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National Wildlife Refuge

Piedmont NWR is home to the endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker pictured here.
718 Juliette Road
Round Oak, GA   31038
E-mail: piedmont@fws.gov
Phone Number: 478-986-5441
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
On the refuge, look for the endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker along with many other native species.
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Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is primarily an upland forest dominated by loblolly pine on the ridges with hardwoods found along the creek bottoms and in scattered upland coves. Clear streams and beaver ponds provide ideal wetland habitat for wood ducks and other wetland dependent species. In the early 1800's the European settlers arrived in abundance and began to clear the land to plant a variety of crops. The settlers removed more than 90% of the forest. The continuous planting of cotton caused serious erosion and soil infertility. By the late 1870's they had abandoned more than a third of the land because the land could not sustain crops.

With the combination of soil infertility, the boll weevil outbreak on remaining cotton and the depression, there was wholesale abandonment of the barren eroded land in the 1930's. By then all the top soil had washed away, leaving the red clay subsoil exposed. The refuge was established from this worn out abandoned farm land where few wildlife species remained. With good soil and forest conservation practices, the wildlife habitat began to improve. Today, through the efforts of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the 35,000 acre wildlife refuge is once again a forest.

The red-cockaded woodpecker, a native bird of the southern US, is an endangered species because the older age pine forests it requires for nesting and roosting have been cleared throughout most of its range. The refuge currently has 39 active family groups. Prescribed burning and thinning are two forest management practices used to provide habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker. Many migratory bird species, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and other native wildlife benefit from these management practices. The diversity of habitats provides a haven for over 200 species of birds, including many species of neotropical songbirds, and 50 species of mammals.

Getting There . . .
From I-75, 30 miles north of Macon, take exit 186 Juliette Road. Drive 18 miles east from the interstate to the refuge. Or from Hwy 11 between Gray and Monticello, take Juliette Road west 3 miles to the refuge office and visitor center.

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Management Activities
The refuge actively manages its land for wildlife. The pine forests are managed in small, even-aged stands to provide a diversity of wildlife habitat and to ensure a continuous replacement of older age pine for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and other wildlife species needing older forests. These stands are interspersed throughout the refuge in a jigsaw puzzle fashion to provide a rich mixture of forest habitats. Prescribed burning and timber thinning are used to encourage growth of food plants and provide cover in the pine forest.

Today 25% of the refuge is in hardwoods that are maintained along the creeks and in moist sites. Hardwood stands provide excellent habitat for some neotropical birds, like the wood thrush, turkeys, squirrels, and other woodland wildlife. Hardwoods also provide an important food source including acorns, dogwood berries, hickory nuts and persimmon. Open fields are maintained by mowing and burning. These areas are important feeding and nesting areas for many species of birds and small mammals. Recent surveys have shown more than 40 species of butterflies can be found in these openings.

Many clear flowing creeks and beaver ponds provide wetlands that are used by waterfowl and other water-dependent wildlife species. Eleven ponds are managed for wildlife and fish. Wood duck boxes around these ponds provide nesting structures for this colorful year-round resident. Along the wildlife drive, visitors can view impoundments where a mixture of oak trees and planted openings are seasonally flooded to provide wintering waterfowl an ideal feeding area. Four ponds are used as rearing ponds for the endangered robust redhorse sucker. This riverine fish is the focus of a large partnership in several states working toward recovery of this species.