FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2018
LAND CONSERVATION MEASURE PASSES WITH OVERWHELMING, BI-PARTISAN SUPPORT
Measure to go to voters in November
The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act (House Bill 332), along with companion legislation calling for a voter referendum as required by the Georgia Constitution (House Resolution 238), would dedicate a portion of the existing state sales and use tax on outdoor recreation equipment for land conservation.
“This is a historic victory for land conservation in our state. We want to commend the members of the legislature not only for their overwhelming support of this measure, but also for their clear commitment to the protection of our state’s natural resources,” commented Robert Ramsay, president of The Georgia Conservancy and legislative chair of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition. “This legislation has the potential to have a generational impact on communities throughout our state as a reliable, dedicated source of funding will give our leaders the flexibility needed to address both short term needs and long-range goals.”
If signed by the Governor and passed by voters in November, the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act would provide for the dedication of up to 80% of the existing sales and use tax on outdoor sporting goods as classified by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), with an initial dedicated amount of approximately $20 million annually. The legislation would sunset after ten years, with the option to be renewed.
Funding dedicated through the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act would be used to maintain and improve access to wildlife management areas, protect lands critical to clean water, and acquire and improve parks and trails. Only projects approved by the Department of Natural Resources and consistent with the state’s established goals for conservation would be eligible for funding.
“Georgia’s growing outdoor recreation industry relies upon access to land and water, as do other key sectors such as tourism and agriculture. Georgians understand this connection between our natural resources, our economy, and their quality of life - and we are hopeful that, should Governor Deal sign this legislation, that will be reflected by their vote later this year,” concluded Thomas Farmer, executive director of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition.
The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition is comprised of The Conservation Fund, The Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride, and The Trust for Public Land.