Forest Stewardship Keeps Georgia Grandmother Independent

Sandra Cummings is an African American woman who is a part owner of two forested landscapes in Georgia. Her first property, 325 acres of land with a home in the city of Madison, was passed down by her maternal great-grandmother, who was born a slave. The second property consists of 165 acres of land in the town of Portal, which was passed down by her paternal grandfather.

To ensure that the family’s ancestral land remains intact, Mrs. Cummings and her family decided to put it into an irrevocable trust to prevent their children and grandchildren from dividing and selling it. “You see, they didn’t grow up in the dirt like we did,” she said. “We grew up working those farmlands, picking cotton, tobacco, planting watermelon. We were able to see the benefits of having this land. My children and grandchildren did not.”

Mrs. Cummings wanted to encourage long-term stewardship of her land, and sought out resources to help achieve this goal. Amadou Diop, an Atlanta-based outreach liaison for the US Forest Service, helped Mrs. Cummings find information about forest management and stewardship plans.

“If it wasn’t for Amadou’s wealth of knowledge, willingness to help people, and putting me in touch with the resources directly, I would have never been able to get any of this done,” said Mrs. Cummings. “He made sure that I was taken care of, and he deserves a lot of credit.”

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