Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act
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 advocating for dedicated conservation funding.
In February, during the 2017 Legislative Session, the Georgia House of Representatives introduced the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act (GOSA) in the form of House Bill 332 and the accompanying House Resolution 238. 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 - the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act seeks to change that.
Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act seeks to:
- Dedicate 75% of all tax revenue collected annually from the sale of outdoor recreation equipment for the purpose of the protection and preservation of conservation land.
- 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 Outdoor Stewardship Act, 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, the Constitution of Georgia would first have to be amended and the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act would seek to accomplish this through the creation of a ballot initiative presented to Georgia voters during the fall 2018 election cycle. House Resolution 238 introduces this ballot initiative.
House Bill 332 passed the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment during the 2017 Legislative Session, but did not pass out of the House before the end of the session. The bill will be renewed for consideration by the Committee during the 2018 Session.
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 in 2018.
The Georgia Conservancy and our coalition partners support the passage of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act and thank sponsors Rep. Sam Watson, Rep. Jon Burns, Rep. Lynn Smith, Rep. Chad Nimmer and Rep. Spencer Frye 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.