The final rules for the GGP help guide the DNR, Georgia Greenspace Commission and the counties, cities and towns eligible to take part in the program.
This is a great program. It can help us make sure we retain enough green space to protect out natural resources. Of the nine goals of the program, five affect water quality.
Greenspace as a single word is a new term. Mostly, it refers to permanently protected land and water, including farm and forested land, whose development rights have been severed from the property.
The land must be in its undeveloped, natural state or developed only to the extent consistent, or restored to the extent needed, to meet one or more of the GGP goals to:
- Protect water quality for rivers, streams and lakes.
- Protect against floods.
- Protect wetlands.
- Reduce erosion by protecting steep slopes, areas with erodible soils and stream banks.
- Protect riparian buffers and other areas such as marsh hammocks that serve as natural habitats and corridors for native plants and animals.
- Protect scenic views.
- Protect archaeological and historic resources.
- Provide for recreation in the form of boating, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, running, jogging, biking, walking, skating, birding, riding horses, observing or photographing nature, picnicking or just playing.
- Connect existing or planned areas contributing to the goals.
Any Georgia county can submit a greenspace program for approval if its population is at least 60,000 or its growth at least 800 people per year. A list of participating counties is on the GGP Web page (www.state.ga.us/ dnr/greenspace).
If your county has already qualified and applied for GGP funding, you can still get involved. There has to be a Greenspace committee. And while the membership varies, it usually includes interested citizens. All meetings should be open to the public, too.
As the state's population increases, so do the demands on our natural resources. We can't assume there will always be good water quality. We must take steps to ensure it.
Water quality and conservation are critical issues for everyone in Georgia. Active involvement of volunteers will be necessary to ensure sustainable growth and a high quality of life. Get involved, and enjoy improving your community.