The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act aims to impact our state’s $27 billion outdoor industry by protecting lands and supporting trails and parks, without raising taxes or creating new fees. Here’s why Amendment 1 deserves your vote this November.
by George Dusenbury, photos by Christoper T Martin
This November, Georgians have a historic opportunity to ensure clean water, protect our lands and grow our economy by voting yes on the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act which is Amendment 1 on the general election ballot. This measure is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a generational impact on communities throughout our state – without raising taxes or creating new fees.
Amendment 1 will constitutionally dedicate a portion of the existing sales tax on sporting goods, approximately $20 million a year, to conservation. And it is an issue we can all agree on. It received nearly unanimous, bi-partisan support from the General Assembly earlier this year.
Land, water and trails are critical to the success of Georgia’s $27 billion outdoor recreation industry, as well as other key job-creating industries such as tourism, agriculture and forestry. As our population continues to grow, it is critical that we have the ability to protect these irreplaceable natural resources while providing recreational opportunities for all residents. By establishing a dedicated source of funding, our leaders will not only be able to more efficiently implement the state’s conservation plans, but also attract additional philanthropic investment to our communities.
The funding dedicated by Amendment 1 could only be used for three specific purposes: to protect lands critical to drinking water and the quality of Georgia’s lakes, rivers and streams; to support community efforts to build and maintain parks and trails; and to maintain and create new places to hunt and fish. To ensure the trust of the voters, the Amendment also includes strict accountability provisions. Any project funded must be consistent with the state’s conservation plan to even be considered and the approval process will include a Board of Trustees made up of both public officials and private citizens. Finally, all expenditures will be fully disclosed annually so that the public can see how the funding is being used.
Amendment 1 will have an incredible impact on our economy and our quality of life – but only if it passes in November. The Trust for Public Land, which will present the Georgia Trail Summit in Columbus on May 5 & 6, 2019, has been proud to play a leadership role in a coalition supporting Amendment 1. In partnership with such outstanding organizations as The Conservation Fund, Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy and Park Pride, we are hopeful that all those who enjoy the outdoors will take advantage of this historic opportunity to protect our state’s outdoor spaces and natural beauty.
I encourage you to vote yes on Amendment 1 this November. For more information, visit georgiaoutdoorstewardship.org.