The Natural Georgia Series: Atlanta's Urban Wildlife

Design by Lenz Design, Decatur, Georgia.

What's Going On?

By James R. Wilson

This is now our third issue in the newly formatted Georgia Wildlife: A Natural Georgia Series. The first magazine, published about a year ago, focused on the Okefenokee Swamp and the second on the Blue Ridge. By all reports, our readers are very pleased with this new direction I decided to take.

Many of you long-time members will remember the sequence of events leading up to the most recent issue. In December 1988, I began Georgia Wildlife with a 16-page magazine about half of which was in color. Then in 1991 it graduated to a full-color 64-page book that also carried advertising. Beginning in 1994, all outside advertising was dropped and it became a purely entertaining, educational publication. Two years later, in 1996, I switched to Southern Wildlife. The purpose was twofold. I hoped that with a larger reader base, the Southeast, and the other National Wildlife Federation Affiliates that the magazine might become profitable (which it had never been). After four issues, that didn't work out, but it was not a major disappointment because the primary planned purpose has proven to be a success.

For a long time I had dreamed of a coalition of all the autonomous NWF state affiliates in the southern states. I saw it as an unofficial, informal forum for exchanging ideas and addressing regional as well as local problems common to several states. I envisioned it as having no officers, no set agendas, no rules or bylaws, no regular meetings and making no pronouncements or policies that were binding on the member federations. What I didn't see for some time was how to bring this about.

I finally hit on the idea that a common publication, Southern Wildlife, might be the unifying tool. While the magazine met with some success, for several reasons it did not become as widespread as I would have hoped, but it was the first opportunity for several states to talk about a common subject. From that beginning, there has now been forged a core of southern state wildlife federations calling ourselves The Southern Wildlife Group.

True to the original concept, this now-thriving group is totally unorganized (as opposed to disorganized) and has held two annual meetings each hosted by a different member federation. They have provided the forum to discuss common issues as well as to trade information on a variety of both successful and unsuccessful projects. The format has proven to be extremely valuable. Participating state wildlife federations have so far included Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia as well as delegates from the National Wildlife Federation. The new Texas affiliate has also expressed an interest in being involved. Not a bad showing. An untold amount of time and money has been saved by talking to other federations and having to not "reinvent the wheel." Conclusion: I believe it is a great success.

That's what Southern Wildlife accomplished and is its legacy. The readers of Georgia Wildlife paid something of a price in this undertaking by giving up a strictly Georgia magazine, but now I hope that you will agree that it was worth it. I also hope that you enjoyed Southern Wildlife while it lasted. At the very least, you members who got them now have four collectors' items that are in the Library of Congress for posterity.

I have now published two issues of Georgia Wildlife: A Natural Georgia Series. These first two have been very well received. They are member publications and are not available by subscription. We have put them in some retail outlets in selected areas where the subject matter is particularly germane. At a retail cost of $12.95, they are producing some revenue to help offset the costs of production.

This current issue I saw as yet another gamble. A large portion of the population of Georgia is urban. That percentage is and will continue to grow. Most urban dwellers think of wildlife primarily as a rural subject. Not so! There is a lot of wildlife in the cities and towns that we need to know and be concerned about. There is also very little written on the subject. It's wonderful to visit a beautiful swamp or mountain range and learn about the wildlife there, but what happens when you come back home to a subdivision and go to the mall? Have you left behind all the wildlife wonders because they are not part of your everyday world? You shouldn't have. That is what this issue is all about. I hope you enjoy it.

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