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Governor Perdue Signs Seven Conservation Bills

Tuesday, May 11, 2004  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


ATLANTA, GA - Governor Sonny Perdue today signed into law seven conservation bills during a ceremony at the State Capitol.

"The land has been good to Georgia . We are blessed with a rich heritage of forests, wildlife, mountains, lakes, streams, seashores, and coastal marshes," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "And being good stewards of our natural environment is one of our most important obligations."

A summary of the conservation legislation is provided below:

Protection of Forest Lands

Senate Bill 480 - The Forest Heritage Trust Act of 2004 allows for the protection of nearly 40,000 acres of forest land owned by the Georgia Forestry Commission. Land acquired by the Georgia Forestry Commission for the Forest Heritage Trust Program will come by recommendation of the Commission and approval by Executive Order of the Governor.

Improving Air Quality

Senate Bill 356 - Establishes a statewide, automated Georgia Carbon Sequestration Registry to measure and inventory the amount of carbon dioxide stored in the plants and trees of landowners involved in agriculture and forestry. This storage, or sequestration, offsets greenhouse gas emissions that arise from sources such as factories and automobiles. The registry will set the stage for the development of a market for carbon credits. The credits make it possible for state, federal, and international organizations and governments to give consideration to participants that provide for sequestration. It will add value to Georgia forests, and provide an incentive to grow and make Georgia an attractive market for carbon transactions.

Water Quality, Conservation Easements, and Land Buffers

House Bill 1103 - Provides 60-day advance notice to landowners prior to the expiration of their covenant relative to conservation use. This advance notice for landowners regarding the renewal of their conservation easement will assist in the state's land preservation efforts.

House Bill 1107 - Extends the benefits of the "bona fide conservation use" classification for county real property tax assessment purposes to the buffer areas of rivers and streams. These buffers have to be either within the 100-year flood plain or must be established by law or local ordinance. These are areas that usually have reduced value for the property owner. The reduced valuation will encourage landowners to honor the requirements of the law and allow the land to remain undisturbed.

House Bill 1416 - When qualifying uses have been discontinued on bona fide conservation use properties and the primary use has become the maintenance of fish or wildlife habitat, the conservation valuation may be continued.

Senate Bill 460 - Provides that the DNR board will adopt rules with respect to buffer variances on state waters by December 31, 2004 . The EPD director shall consider variances under three specified conditions, each of which includes an approved mitigation plan or result in maintained or improved water quality.

Senate Bill 568 - Provides for the regulation of the removal, transport, and disposal of waste removed from grease interceptions, sand traps, oil-water separators, or grit traps. Currently 80% of sewer overflow difficulties are a result of improper disposal of these wastes.