Georgia Legacy - Dedicated Funding for Conservation
It has been nearly 20 years since Georgians have been able to voice their support for land and water conservation funding in our state. In that time, Georgia has seen recession, severe drought and new questions regarding how to best conserve our land and water as populations continue to grow.
With the goal of conserving Georgia’s precious natural resources – its people, jobs, land and water – through a sustainable source of funding for land and water conservation, The Georgia Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Conservation Fund and Park Pride joined forces in 2010 as a coalition called Georgia Legacy.
Our state currently lacks a dedicated funding mechanism for the conservation for priority lands, the stewardship of state parks and wildlife management areas, and the support of local parks and preserves - Georgia Legacy seeks to change that.
A major piece of legislation to provide for this dedicated funding for land conservation in Georgia did not pass the House before crossover day during the 2016 Legislative Session. Championed by the Georgia Conservancy and our Georgia Legacy coalition members, House Bill 693 sought to establish the Georgia Legacy Trust Fund, wherein 75% of all tax revenue collected annually from the sale of outdoor recreation equipment would be dedicated for the purpose of the protection and preservation of conservation land. To allow for the dedicated allocation of tax revenue into the Georgia Legacy Trust Fund, the Constitution of Georgia would first have to be amended. House Resolution 907 sought to accomplish this through the creation of a ballot initiative presented to Georgia voters during the fall 2016 election cycle. Though legislation was not passed during this session, the Georgia Legacy coalition is continuing its efforts during the interim to work with lawmakers so that this measure, or one similar, will be introduced and ultimately passed during the 2017 session.
Georgia Legacy seeks to:
- Provide for the acquisition of critical areas for the provision or protection of clean water, game, wildlife, or fisheries, or natural-resource-based outdoor recreation.
- Aid local governments in the acquisition and improvement of local parks and trails.
- Provide for the stewardship of conservation lands through maintenance and restoration projects.
From within the Georgia Legacy Trust Fund, dollars would also be made available in each fiscal year for loans to any city, county, or nongovernmental entity to defray the costs of acquisition of conservation land or of conservation easements placed upon property that ensure its permanent protection as conservation land.
To allow for the dedicated allocation of tax revenue into the Georgia Legacy Trust Fund, the Constitution of Georgia would first have to be amended. House Resolution 907, introduced by Rep. Burns, would seek to accomplish this through the creation of a ballot initiative presented to Georgia voters during the fall 2016 election cycle.
If you have an opportunity – please reach out and tell your State Representative or State Senator that you want them to support dedicated funding for land conservation and acquisition in Georgia.
The Georgia Conservancy and our Georgia Legacy partners support the passage of Georgia Legacy legislation and thank the sponsors for its introduction. We believe that the protection of our natural resources should not suffer during economic up-and-downs and that a dedicated and sustainable source of funding for land and water conservation will not only prove beneficial to our state’s environment, but also to our economy.