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Swamp land going dry

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August 11, 2006

Calhoun County - Want proof of Georgia's drought? You can see it in many of the state's wetlands. But dry swamps aren't necessarily a bad thing.

If you've ever been to the Chickasawhatchee wildlife preservation, maybe you think you've seen it all. But did you know there are close to 20,000 acres for you to stroll at your leisure? You can hunt, watch birds and even fish (when there's enough water). But if you go right now, you may see some things you've never seen before, thanks believe it or not, to the **lack** of rain we've had.

Jim Atchley says, "The rise and fall of the stream bed here is normal. From year to year, water level varies in degrees with the amount of rain." And the amount of rain we've had this year is minimal, so most of the stream beds are dry or close to it.

"When you see streams that you normally pass by that are flowing all year long, you really don't pay much attention to them, but when you see them dried up to just small puddles, that really catches your attention," says Atchley, a Wildlife Technician.  He says some other things out here may catch your attention as well.  "When the water drops down to these pools," he says, "you will see an increased activity for wading birds because it concentrates their food sources, also the alligators and the fish are concentrated using these small pools."

But just because the pools are shallow and few and far between, the animals here aren't in any trouble.  He says, "On the grand scale, it's part of the natural process. For us, if you enjoy visiting the outdoors, it may give you an opportunity that you're not accustomed to seeing."

In addition to new animals showing up in the pools of water, the lack of rain is having another positive effect small fish left in the water are eating the mosquito larva, so there aren't nearly as many mosquitoes as normal.  

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