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A Collaborative New Approach to Land Conservation

By: Nick Johnson, Georgia Conservancy Senior Planner

When it comes to land conservation in Georgia, there is strength in numbers. Conserving lands rich with environmental resources, including wildlife, wetlands, forest, agricultural, and scenic amenities, requires a coordinated effort from non-profits, state agencies, and landowners.

Longleaf Pine Forest in Worth County

The Georgia Conservancy is pleased to announce a new initiative that takes this coordinated approach: the Association of Georgia Land Trusts. This new coalition brings together more than 20 organizations across the state to share news and best practices, provide technical assistance and advice to clients and partners, and advocate for the protection of valuable environmental lands.

The Association of Georgia Land Trusts is modeled after similar initiatives in other states, including Florida and North Carolina, which have seen significant success among land conservation projects in those areas. Thanks to funding provided by R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation and other partners aimed at building community among local land trusts, this new organization expands on previous networks established for the land trusts of the state by the former Georgia Land Conservation Center. That organization was led for many years by Hans Neuhauser, a revered figure in the realm of Georgia land conservation efforts.

“This newly formed association will provide an important connection among land trusts and land conservation organizations active in Georgia through increased communication, collaboration, and advocacy,” says Shane Wellendorf, Conservation Coordinator at Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.

Gopher Tortoise in Irwin County

AGLT is poised to make a significant impact on the conservation of valuable lands across the state. A good example of such work will be seeking lands to put under conservation easement for viable populations of gopher tortoise, a keystone species. AGLT organizations are working with the Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative in critical areas of the state to conserve and manage gopher tortoise habitat, with the intent to increase its population and keep the reptile from being listed as an Endangered Species.

Partner organizations will also work together to identify key lands in Georgia that could benefit from the newly created Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Fund, and monitor the implications of IRS treatment of state and local taxes on the use and viability of the Georgia State Conservation Tax Credit.

Additionally, the Association of Georgia Land Trusts will explore how to support a
Conserved Lands Inventory in order to have a more complete understanding of where land is being conserved around the state.

The Georgia Conservancy has joined the Association’s Executive Committee and provides communications support for news, social media and dialogue, technical assistance for advocacy strategy and content, and logistical assistance for operations.

“We are very excited to be a part of this next big step for land conservation in Georgia,” says Georgia Conservancy Natural Resource and Coastal Director Charles McMillan. “AGLT will strengthen the reach and capabilities of partner organizations. With a coordinated effort toward the conservation of our most precious lands, we can have the greatest impact.”

The Association of Georgia Land Trusts includes: Athens Land Trust*, Atlantic Coast Conservancy, Broad River Watershed Association, Camden County Land Trust, Chattooga River Land Trust, The Conservation Fund, Central Savannah River Land Trust, LAF Conservation Consultant Services, Cobb Land Trust, Georgia-Alabama Land Trust*, The Georgia Conservancy*, Georgia Piedmont Land Trust*, Lula Lake Land Trust, Madison Morgan Conservancy, Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia*, Newton County Land Trust Alliance, Ocmulgee Land Trust, Oconee River Land Trust*, Southeast Land Preservation Trust, Southeast Regional Land Conservancy, St. Simons Island Land Trust, Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy*, Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land, Pelican Coast Conservancy, Southern Conservation Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and The Trust for Public Land. *Executive Committee

Learn more about the Association of Georgia Land Trusts: www.georgiaconservancy.org/aglt

Photos by the Georgia Conservancy

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