Governor Perdue Announces Georgia Land Conservation Act Including $100 Million in Funds
|Tuesday, January 25, 2005||
Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774
Act will Encourage the Protection of Georgia’s Natural and Cultural Resources
ATLANTA, GA – Today at the Chattahoochee Hill Country Conservancy in Palmetto, Georgia, Governor Sonny Perdue announced the Georgia Land Conservation Act, a landmark initiative to encourage the long-term conservation and protection of the state’s natural resources.
The legislation will establish a trust fund and a revolving loan fund of $100 million in state, federal and private funding, which will be available to local governments and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the purchase of conservation lands. The legislation encourages partnerships between local governments, DNR, other state and federal agencies and the private sector, with the intent of preserving Georgia’s most valuable resources.
“The Georgia Land Conservation Act is an investment in our future. It is a commitment to our children and grandchildren to preserve a statewide network of land and water resources, prime agricultural and forestry lands, and natural, historic and recreational areas for them to enjoy,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “This legislation is more far-reaching than any previous conservation efforts. It encourages creative partnerships that will allow us to stretch our conservation dollars further.”
The Governor’s legislation creates the Georgia Land Conservation Trust Fund and the
Georgia Land Conservation Revolving Loan Fund that will be managed by the Georgia Environmental Facility Authority (GEFA) to provide a variety of funding options by which local governments or DNR may purchase conservation easements or fee simple interest in land for eligible projects. The fund will be appropriated $75 million in state funds, and $25 million in private contributions. It also establishes the Georgia Land Conservation Council, which will be responsible for reviewing all project proposals and making recommendations for the distribution of funds. The Georgia Land Conservation Council will include the State Property Officer, the Commissioner of DNR, the Director of the Georgia Forestry Commission, the Executive Director of the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs and four additional members appointed by the Governor.
Under this legislation, DNR is responsible for establishing a state land geographic information system that will serve as a comprehensive database of all conservation activities. DNR, in cooperation with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association, will also provide technical support to local governments. Many conservation organizations in Georgia including The Nature Conservancy, the Georgia Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, the Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Conservation Fund and others will play a lead role by working with state and local government officials to identify lands for protection and assisting in the development of project proposals.
“Conserving our natural resources through land conservation is one of the best ways to protect water quality and to maintain healthy and diverse wildlife populations in Georgia,” said DNR Commissioner Noel Holcomb. “Not only will this Act allow us to add to our outstanding network of state lands such as parks, public fishing areas and wildlife management areas for public enjoyment, but it also will encourage additional interaction between our agency and city and county representatives for local land conservation efforts.”
The Georgia Land Conservation Act was developed using many of the recommendations provided by the Governor’s Land Conservation Partnership, a 19-member task force with interests ranging from natural resource conservation to historic preservation. The Land Conservation Partnership presented its recommendations to Governor Perdue in August 2004. A complete copy of the report can be found at www.gadnr.org.
For the announcement, Governor Perdue was joined by DNR Commissioner Noel Holcomb, State Properties Director Ray Crawford, Georgia Forestry Commission Director Ken Stewart, State Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner David Bennett, Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Mike Beatty, members of the Governor’s Land Conservation Partnership Advisory Council, and representatives from the conservation community.
The Chattahoochee Hill Country Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that raises private funds to leverage foundation and governmental grants supporting sustainable development with environmental protection. More information about the organization can be found at www.chatthillcountry.org.