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Ben Prater, Wild South

Could you state your name and the organisation you work for/ founded;

Interview with Ben Prater, Wild South

When was the organisation founded?

1991

What is your position or role in the organisation?

Conservation Director

What are the main goals of your organisation?

Our mission is to inspire people to enjoy, value, and protect the wild character and natural legacy of the South (US).  Our primary goal is to protect public lands and native biodiversity through advocacy, research, and volunteer service.

Could you tell us something about recent projects?

Wild South’s work covers a broad geographic area. Some of our most notable projects right now include:

  • Tennessee Wild Campaign which aims to protect 20,000 acres of Wilderness in East TN
  • Indian Trails Project seeks to protect hundreds of miles of footpaths used by the Cherokee Indians and thousands of acres of forest associated with these corridors.
  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker Legal Action has protected thousands of acres of habitat to secure recovery of this endangered species.
  • Volunteer Wilderness Rangers in Alabama are working to patrol wilderness areas and educate visitors about outdoor ethics to protect the resource.
  • Linville Gorge Wilderness Stewardship seeks to remove non-native invasive plants that threaten native biodiversity.
  • Hellbender Project in Western North Carolina is focused on augmenting habitat with nest boxes to promote breeding and population recovery.

What is in your opinion the biggest success of your organisation since it started?

Our biggest success in my opinion has been the fact that over the past 20 plus years we have managed to directly protect nearly a half million acres of public lands and thousands of species in one of the most biodiverse landscapes in the world.

Do you have any specific goals in the near future?

One of our biggest goals in the near future is to lead the Southeast in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act through events, hikes, stewardship projects, and advocacy.

Why is your work so important ?

Our work is important because the lands we work to protect are the core habitats by which native biodiversity thrive. Our landscape is also one of the more heavily populated regions requiring a proactive approach to inspire people to appreciate and work to protect the amazing natural resources that we depend on.

Could you give an idea, what organisations like the Herpetofauna foundation, can contribute to your work?

Your organization can help us in two ways. First by helping elevate our profile internationally and second by directly supporting out work with Herpetofauna financially. In fact, your recent financial support helped us leverage $10,000 in funds to lead a long term Hellbender research project that we hope will be published.

How can people get involved in your work?

People can get involved in several ways. The best thing to do is visit www.wildsouth.org to learn more.  Joining our network is free and we are always looking to build our base of support, attract volunteers, and raise awareness.