One bill that Georgia lawmakers will discuss this legislative session would put more money towards land conservation.
The bill, HB 693, would create the Georgia Legacy Trust Fund, which would fund conservation projects on land and water. The money would come from 75 percent of the state sales tax collected from outdoor recreation equipment sales.
“It’s an opportunity to take existing state funding and dedicate it for the purpose of land and water conservation,” said Deron Davis, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in Georgia. “You think about the mountains that we hike, and the coast and beaches that we visit; this tourism industry relies on and needs the natural resources and the consistent protection of those natural resources.”
Other states in the Southeast have put more money toward land conservation than Georgia has, Davis said. “They’ve used a variety of different mechanisms but in each case it has resulted in significantly more funding than Georgia has been able to allocate.”
Republican Jon Burns, the Georgia House majority leader, pre-filed the bill and an accompanying resolution. A number of environmental groups — the Nature Conservancy, Conservation Fund, Trust for Public Land, Park Pride and the Georgia Conservancy — have rallied behind the idea.