Within weeks, Georgia may become the owner of one the largest remaining freshwater swamps in the Southeast. The deal with Jacksonville-based St. Joe Co. is valued at $30 million or about $198 per acre (a half cent psf). The Nature Conservancy of Georgia is buying the tract now and will broker the deal for the state until Georgia acquires funds to close the transaction.

The property is the 151,000-acre Chickasawhatchee Swamp tract, also known as the Swamp of Toa. The freshwater swampland lies in southwest Georgia in parts of three counties, some 190 miles south of Atlanta.

This pristine swamp and wildlife area is considered the state’s most important wetland, second only to the Okefenokee Swamp in south Georgia. The state plans to designate the swamp as a wildlife management area.

The sale depends on a vote of the Conservancy’s national board of governors by the end of September. The deal would close in October. The Chickasawhatchee Swamp is the major recharge area for the Floridian aquifer, which is the source of drinking water for Florida, south Georgia and the Georgia coast. The swamp also affects the water flow in the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers, also major water sources and recreational waterways for the area.

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