Piedmont NWR was established in 1939 as a "combination wildlife and game-management demonstration area" to demonstrate that wildlife could be restored on worn out, eroded lands. Today, through the efforts of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the 35,000 acre wildlife refuge is once again a forest. It hosts loblolly pines on the ridges with hardwoods found along creek bottoms and in scattered upland coves. Clear streams and beaver ponds provide ideal wetlands for migrating waterfowl. The refuge is also now home to a growing population the endangered Red-cockaded woodpecker. Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge serves as a model of forest management for wildlife.
In 1939, Ira Gabrielson, Chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey, predecessor agency of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, selected Piedmont from a list of Resettlement Projects. He stated that if the Bureau could take a piece of completely worn out and useless land, like Piedmont was at the time, and make it into a productive wildlife area, then he would know that any kind of land could be managed for wildlife.
The vast forest which reigned supreme for eons had been cleared by European settlers in the early 1800's. Cotton became king and farming robbed the soil of its natural fertility. The loss of forest, with its soil stabilizing root system, led to massive erosion problems. The Civil War, the boll weevil decimation of cotton crops and the Great Depression combined to cause large scale abandonment of farms during the Dust Bowl Era. Few wildlife species and small patches of forest remained in the early 1900's. Today, through the efforts of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the 35,000 acre wildlife refuge is once again a forest.
Other Facilities in this Complex
Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge staff also manages Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, which is located along the Ocmulgee River in Bibb and Twiggs counties, Georgia. Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge is also in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge Complex.