Local forester supports Amendment 1

20 10 2008

 

Editorial – Alan D. McAllister | Tifton Gazette

Amendment 1 is one of the most important forestland conservation measures ever taken up by the Georgia General Assembly. It is truly a conservation bill since conservation of natural resources has come to mean “wise use and management.” Gifford Pinchot, the father of American forestry, described it as meaning “the greatest good for the greatest number over the longest time.” On forest lands this means growing and managing timber crops so as to obtain the maximum yields of timber, wildlife, watershed protection and other values without destruction of the forest or its soil.

Georgia is currently blessed with 24 million acres of forests — forests that provide jobs, enhance our environment and make Georgia a beautiful place to live. Fortunately, these forests are renewable so that its continuous replanting guarantees that new forests are born all the time. But maintaining abundant forests is not without its challenges.

Today, Georgia’s forests are threatened by more than just southern pine beetles, destructive wildfires and urban sprawl. A major culprit is rapidly escalating property taxes that are making it more difficult to keep land in forests. When forests disappear, so do the industries and jobs they create and the numerous environmental benefits they deliver free of charge — clean water, pure air and wildlife habitat, to name a few.

Our forests are truly the economic lifeblood of many Georgia communities and greatly contribute to the social fabric of these areas. A Georgia Tech study conducted each year reveals the economies of 1/3 of Georgia counties significantly rely on forests and forest product companies. In fact, forestry contributes $25 billion each year to the state’s economy.

To those that say this amendment will cost local taxpayers, I say that this is just not true. Amendment 1 creates a Constitutional mandate to reimburse revenue losses to counties whose digest is impacted by the Georgia Forest Land Protection Act of 2008. This act will help keep the forest industry strong, therefore benefiting all Georgians with the billions contributed to the state’s economy, not to mention the environmental benefits that go along with healthy forests.

The broad coalition of organizations endorsing Amendment 1 includes: Georgia Forestry Association, Georgia Agribusiness Council, The Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Conservation Voters, Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Wildlife Federation, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club – Georgia Chapter, The Nature Conservancy, Heritage and Wildlife Conservation Council, Georgia Hunting and Fishing Federation and Quality Deer Management Association.

In addition, the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia are not opposing Amendment 1 since they were instrumental in creating the mandate to reimburse revenue losses in those counties that may be impacted by this legislation.

Read on here.

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