Georgia LEGACY: An Economic Case for Conservation

“Hunting and fishing are an indispensable social resource
of tremendous national value… Of course, we [anglers and hunters]
have always known this, but until recently we failed to tell the public.” ~ Aldo Leopold.

 
What do you want to leave for future generations? At some time, we all consider sharing while we are alive or giving after we die family heirlooms, prized possessions and money. Deeply held values and principles, which were ingrained in us as children, are taught to our own. Many of us have fought to preserve freedom or served the public in some capacity. For this, we should all be proud.
 
As an individual, a family and a country we maintain an important sense of place. A remembrance of personal experiences, our state’s and country’s history are many times inextricably linked to nature in all its splendid glory. That history and the opportunity for future generations to create their sense of place is well worth preserving. However, only 9% of the state’s land and historic sites are safeguarded at some level. This sense of place, a LEGACY, is important to Georgians. More than 80% believe conservation should be funded even in times of budgetary difficulty. That is what Georgia LEGACY is all about, preserving the best by updating our current Land Conservation Program and creating trust and revolving loan funds which will:

1)      Acquire critical areas for clean water, game, wildlife, or natural-resource based outdoor recreation.

2)      Preserve working farms and forests through voluntary conservation easements or acquisition.

3)      Aid in the acquisition and improvement of local parks and trails.

4)      Provide stewardship of conservation land.

5)      Promote land usage for health and wellness programs.

 
“A true conservationist is a man who knows
that the world is not given by his fathers
but borrowed from his children.” 
~ John James Audubon
 

Our sense of place and wallets are interconnected. City and rural parks affect home prices.  Forests throughout the state have bearing on unemployment rates. Farms and coastal wetlands influence grocery bills. The quality of stream and lake banks shapes the price of drinking water, flood insurance premiums and healthcare costs. Parks positively impact property values. Forestry is Georgia’s second largest employer. Farms are our breadbasket. Coastal wetlands act as nurseries for fish and seafood. Vegetated stream buffers resist flooding, erosion and contamination.
 
Georgia has over 70,000 miles of streams and rivers; yet, 34% have bacteria levels posing a health risk to people who come into contact with them.  A 10% increase in forest cover reduces drinking water treatment and chemical costs by 20%; however, 41 of Georgia’s 52 major watersheds have shown a decline in vegetated areas. Stormwater runoff doubles with only 10-20% more roads and parking lots in an area, increasing flooding, erosion and pollution together with the cost to manage them and a negative effect on property values. It is estimated that storm water systems and maintenance will rise from $3.2 billion in 2010 to $5.5 billion by 2030. Natural areas provide a far superior infrastructure at a significantly lower cost. Forests, vegetated buffers along streams, and wetlands can filter over 80% of eroded sediment, bacteria, nutrients and other pollutants from storm water runoff in conjunction with lowering peak flood periods by 50%. There is a positive economic benefit to conserving floodplains, stream buffers and other natural areas as well as preserving Georgia’s LEGACY .
 

92% of Georgians agree that protecting water quality and land in Georgia is critical to the strength of the state’s economy. They are certainly correct.
1)      68% of Georgians participate in outdoor recreation of all types - fishing, hunting, camping, bird- and nature-watching, outdoor swimming, boating, hiking and jogging.
2)      3.1 million Georgians actively enjoy wildlife-related activities - fishing, hunting, and wildlife-watching, while spending $4.6 billion annually.
3)      Over 1 million Georgia sportsmen - anglers and hunters, spend $2.3 billion annually creating nearly 40,000 jobs. That’s more jobs than Ft. Benning, Georgia’s largest employer, and more jobs than Delta Airlines and Hewlett Packard combined.
4)      Annual spending by Georgia sportsmen is nearly 4 times the revenues of the Atlanta Braves, Falcons and Hawks combined.
5)      Each year, sportsmen in Georgia generate $216 million in state and local taxes.
 
Additionally: agriculture adds $65 billion annually to Georgia’s economy and 351,000 jobs; $12.3 million of fish and shellfish are annually commercially harvested from Georgia’s coastal waters; and each year 10 million people visit Georgia’s parks and historic sites generating $620 million in economic impact and 7,000 jobs.

 
Georgians need access to natural areas to recreate and maintain their LEGACY: streams to fish and paddle; wildlife to areas to hunt; forests and parks to hike, camp and bird- and nature-watch; lakes and beaches for swimming and boating; trails on which to jog and bike. Georgia LEGACY is an investment in healthy streams, bountiful wildlife areas, pristine forests, clean lakes and beaches, and accessible trails.

 
“Let us leave a splendid legacy for our children …
let us turn to them and say: this you inherit; guard it well,
for it is far more precious than money … and once destroyed,
nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.” 
~ Ansel Adams
 

GA Legacy - An Economic Case for Conservation -- Get the facts.pdf

 Georgia Legacy Current Program vs Proposed Chart.pdf
 
Senate Bill 210 | Georgia LEGACY was introduced lated year but has lageed inthe Hosue. Senate Resolution 896 proposes a Joint Study Committee with the House to review and discus Georgia LEGACY.
 
Kevin F. McGrath
Advocacy Chairman, Georgia Trout Unlimited

 
Read more about Georgia Trout Unlimited's Goals and Priorites

 Cold Clean Fishable Water 12-08-2013.pdf

Comments

 
said on Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Take Action by 9 AM Monday, Mar 3rd. SR 896, forming a Joint Study Committee on Georgia LEGACY, will be voted on by the Senate when they go into session at 10 AM. Call your Georgia State Senator and leave a voicemail - "Georgia Trout Unlimited and I support Senate Resolution 896. Please VOTE YES, Monday morning, on Senate Resolution 896." Find your Senator here or on Project VoteSmart.
 
Kevin F. McGrath
Advocacy Chairman, Georgia Trout Unlimited

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said on Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Good news! SR 896 passed 49-3 this evening. The resolution authorizes a joint study committee to discuss SB 210. Thanks to everyone who contacted their Georgia Senator on such short notice.

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said on Thursday, March 6th, 2014

This morning, SR 896 was favorably recommended by House Natural Resources and moves on to Rules to be scheduled for a floor vote.

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