Working To Establish A Legacy

In the 10 years since the last state land conservation fund was created, Georgia has seen recession, severe drought and new questions regarding how to best conserve our land and water as populations continue to grow. The Georgia Conservancy, along with the Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, Georgia Wildlife Federation, the Conservation Fund, Park Pride and other entities joined forces in 2010 as a coalition called Georgia Legacy. The goal? To conserve Georgia’s precious natural resources – its people, jobs, land and water – through a sustainable source of funding for land and water conservation.

After extensively researching Georgia’s land conservation history, studying models from other states and creating a stakeholder group, the Georgia Legacy coalition joined with State Senator Ross Tolleson of Perry to introduce legislation in the 2013 session of Georgia’s General Assembly that would act as the first step in achieving the funding goals of Georgia Legacy.

Senate Bill 210 would create an umbrella program branded as Georgia Legacy as a vehicle for which to build upon the state’s current land conservation program for the administration of state funding for land and water conservation from the new Georgia Legacy Trust Fund and Georgia Legacy Revolving Loan Fund. These funds would amend two funds currently in existence – the Land Conservation Trust Fund and the Land Conservation Revolving Loan Fund. The Legacy funds would be administered by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

In the legislative process, SB 210 passed the state Senate overwhelmingly, but upon reaching the state House in 2014, the bill encountered questions as to the funding and structure of Georgia Legacy. During the 2014 legislative session, Sen. Tolleson introduced Senate Resolution 896 to create a Joint Study Committee of the House and Senate, which includes key legislators, agency heads and Governor’s office representation, to further study the restructuring of the land conservation program and potential funding sources. The Conservancy supported the resolution, which passed nearly unopposed, and intends to participate in and support the study committee’s work during the fall of 2014. A report and legislative recommendations from the committee will be made public by the end of 2014.

As stewards of this state’s natural resources, and for future generations, we believe that we have a moral imperative and an economic incentive to conserve our land and water for generations of Georgians to come – our Georgia Legacy.

Learn more about Georgia Legacy

Read a message regarding Georgia Legacy from Georgia Conservancy President Robert Ramsay