By Benjamin Payne, GPB News
Extensive repairs and upgrades to Altamaha Wildlife Management Area in Southeast Georgia are expected to be completed in 2024, capping a long-term effort to help the roughly 32,000-acre preserve recover from major hurricanes in recent years.
A popular state-managed wetland in McIntosh County about 10 miles north of Brunswick, Altamaha was hit hard by Hurricanes Irma and Michael in 2017 and 2018, respectively, damaging its waterfowl impoundments and bottomland hardwood forests.
Since then, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has finished repairs and improvements to Altamaha’s Champney Island and Rhett’s Island, with construction on Butler Island having begun in early 2023.
The agency says that, by late summer 2024, its staff and contractors will have completed on Butler Island 9.5 miles of dike rebuilding and elevating, 2.7 miles of slope repair, 1.4 miles of berm re-establishment and seven water control structure replacements.
“I’m excited to be done with the final phase of that big project,” said DNR game management supervisor David Mixon. “These are pretty big upgrades that will help us better withstand floodings and storm surges and that sort of stuff that has caused us some major issues. And we’re excited about the potential for that enhanced attraction for waterfowl.”
Mixon added that Altamaha’s three islands will be in even better shape than they were before the hurricane damage occurred, with the improvements allowing for greater state management of the preserve.
Butler Island was closed to waterfowl hunting this year. If construction finishes on time, it will be available for hunting by the start of the season in November.
This story comes to Savannah Sun Times through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.