The Savannah River Ecology Lab, here in Aiken, SC is a very cool place. Being near and working with the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, a 300 mile goverment reserve, the land is protected from development and mostly wilderness. This has allows SREL to be involved in a number of projects to rebuild some dwindling species numbers and show local students how we can work with our environment and our nation while maintaining a balance between the two.
Support under University of Georgia, and the DOE, SREL is in trouble. Budget cuts at both levels is forcing the lab to close. This is terrible. When this happens, ongoing research involving toxicology of wildlife, reptile and amphibian studies, and gopher tortoise repatriation. What a shame to lose this facility and it's work.
While I am not a 'tree-hugging environmentalist' as I have often heard folks who endear themselves to the environment called. I am a sucker for critters. As the mother of boys, our family houses 3 (down from 4) turtles/tortoises, 6 hermit crabs, and 2 beastly 3 month old kittens. In the course of the past few years, we have had caught and released wild mud turtles, snapping turtles, humongous bullfrogs, toads of ghastly proportions, lizards, even small snakes. My view: as long as it doesn't have 8 legs and creep across the floor... I'm cool.
SREL helped my family care for our sulcata while on vacation many times. When 'Herbie' died after a prolonged mysterious illness, SREL sought to determine what had happened. Their expertise in other tortoises of the area was readily used in diagnosing and determining the problem with ours. It was a blessing to know that people nearby cared about our tortoise and wanted to help.
Why not support SREL? To learn more about the goings on there and the work that I believe to be vital to our local and national interests, you can learn more and even donate if led, at http://www.uga.edu/srel/.