Eric Sievers (GTC Senior Co-Chair)
The 45th Annual GTC Meeting was recently held in Tifton, Georgia, and it was great to see so many tortoise conservation champions in one place, about 115 of us! We enjoyed a keynote address from Dr. Lora Smith, Scientist at the Jones Center at Ichauway, highlighting a career of research on tortoises, as well as an early photo of a young and stylish Lora wearing Tony the Tiger sunglasses. Lora challenged the Council to re-evaluate our organization’s goals to include habitat protection and management, with special consideration for the isolated wetlands embedded in the upland ecosystems that the gopher tortoise calls home. A special session on gopher tortoise translocation was held on Saturday. This session served as an informative primer to an urgent need to evaluate translocation outcomes and inform translocation practices (look for more on this topic from GTC in subsequent newsletters). The meeting wrapped up on a cool and sunny Sunday morning with two field trip options to Alapaha River Wildlife Management Area and Doerun Pitcher Plant Bog.
I left the meeting feeling re-invigorated about gopher tortoise conservation and I hope you did too! Let’s all give an enormous thank you to Matt Elliot and his team, who hosted a fantastic meeting. As the new GTC Senior Co-Chair, I’m excited to host the 2024 annual meeting in central Florida. We are hoping for increased participation from students so start recruiting, motivating, and encouraging now!
Finally, a much-deserved round of applause to our outgoing ex officio Co-Chair Becca Cozad, as well as a hearty welcome to our incoming Junior Co-Chair, Kim Sash of Tall Timbers.
Keep an eye out for a save the date announcement for the location of next year’s GTC meeting. Happy holidays to you and your families!