BALDWIN STATE FOREST
The Bartram Educational Forest is a working forest managed by the Georgia Forestry Commission. As an outdoor classroom, it is being used to teach students of all ages about Georgia's natural resources and to increase conservation awareness.
The Bartram Educational Forest is part of the Baldwin State Forest (BSF), located in Baldwin and Wilkinson counties. BSF is a 2,113 acre land tract owned by the State of Georgia and managed with multiple use concepts by the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC). This concept integrates timber, wildlife, recreation, soil, water and aesthetics into one workable plan.
Presently, 1,600 acres are suited for growing timber and predominantly planted with pine trees. Wetlands, made up of creeks and beaver ponds, utilize 270+ acres; the Baldwin Seed Orchard has 100 acres with 52 in fishing ponds. Right-of-ways - natural gas, electric, and highway/roads - make up the balance.
Prior to 1969, most of the land was in pasture, which was owned and controlled by the Department of Public Health, Central State Hospital. On September 25, 1969, Governor Lester Maddox signed an Executive Order transferring the property from the Department of Public Health to the Forestry Commission.
In July of 1970, the GFC entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Georgia Game and Fish Commission (currently the Department of Natural Resources) for the area to be managed as a wildlife management area. Five (5) ponds totaling 54 acres were designated a public fishing area and managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Following a management plan written in the early 1970's a major afforestation effort was begun to convert most of the idle pastureland to trees. Approximatley half of the land area was designated to be developed as the Baldwin Seed Orchard (BSO). For the next 18-20 years, BSF and BSO were managed extensively for development of seed orchards. By 1990, approximately 850 acres of seed orchard had been established.
In 1991, an updated forest management plan was written for BSF following the guidelines under the Forest Stewardship Program. During this time, activities at BSO were greatly reduced by budget reductions. Approximately 100 acres are presently being managed for pine seed production. Since 1991 most of the open land set aside for future seed orchards have been planted with slash, loblolly, or longleaf pines for timber production. As orchards were no longer needed for seed production or tree improvement and tree breeding activities they were cut and reforested.
As part of its redirection plan the DNR ceased its management activities on the BSF Public Fishing Area on July 1, 1997. The forest is still considered a Wildlife Management Area and remains open for certain recreation purposes.