Georgia Community Greenspace Program
The Georgia Community Greenspace Program, passed into law under Governor Roy Barnes in 2000, encouraged rapidly developing counties to voluntarily set aside 20 percent of their land as "greenspace." Although funding for the program ceased in 2004, the Georgia Community Greenspace program was revolutionary because it codified the concept of greenspace, acknowledged the detrimental aspects of urbanization, and emphasized the responsibilities of local governments to preserve land as a means of maintaining quality of life.
Greenspace was defined under lakes; flood protection; wetlands protection; reduction of soil erosion; protection of corridors and habitat for native plants and animals; preservation of scenery; protection of archaeological and historic resources; and informal recreation, such as fishing, hiking, and birding.
The Georgia Conservancy, and the Atlanta Regional Commission amplified the impact of the program by providing planning and training efforts for greenspace acquisition and preservation.
The local, urban orientation of the Georgia Community Greenspace program state parks and national parks, wildlife refuges, and management preserves. By the 1970s land-conservation efforts had accelerated through the work of the Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, and many smaller land trusts working within the state. In addition, land was preserved through the Heritage Trust, Preservation 2000, and RiverCare2000. These programs, along with the Community Greenspace Program, preserved more than 300,000 acres of land in Georgia from 1974 to 2003, usually through outright purchase of land.
The Georgia legislature allocated $90 million ($30 million per year) from 2001 through 2003 for the acquisition of county greenspace. The funds, held in a trust, were available to fast-growing local governments that could demonstrate a commitment to preserving 20 percent of county land as greenspace and could produce acceptable greenspace plans. Not all governments were able to acquire land, however, and some monies were returned to the state. The program was not funded in 2004 because of decreases in state revenues.
In December 2003 Governor Sonny Perdue signed an executive order establishing an advisory council for the Georgia Land Conservation Partnership, which was charged
The new law created a trust fund and a loan fund, both administered by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, a state agency established in 1985 to provide financing for a variety of environmental improvement and infrastructure projects. The Georgia Greenspace Commission (which was responsible for reviewing and approving greenspace programs for the Community Greenspace Program) was reconstituted as the Georgia Land Conservation Council. The Georgia Land Conservation program is open to all local governments rather than just rapidly developing ones, with competition among local entities for funding based on the demonstrated ability to purchase and protect greenspace.
Media Gallery: Georgia Community Greenspace Program