Obama signs bill providing funds for Georgia to protect land, parks

Nov 6, 2009

ATLANTA — President Obama signed a bill that will bring funding to Georgia to purchase land that will help protect rivers and streams, provide more recreational opportunities, and keep development at bay.

The $32.24 billion package signed into law on Oct. 31 funds the Department of Interior for 2010 and will give Georgia a green boost by providing:

  • $3.1 million to purchase land along the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in north Georgia. The park was created in 1978 to protect the watershed, provide opportunities for river and land recreation, and conserve important tracts in the river’s floodplain. The park extends along the river for nearly 50 miles from Buford Dam at Lake Sidney Lanier to the entrance of Peachtree Creek tributary in Atlanta. The beloved park that receives some 2.75 million visitors a year faces increasing danger from population growth and development. Part of the funds will also be used to help acquire more land at the historic Hyde Farm in Cobb County, where conservationists hope to provide window into the tradi¬tional farming culture that has largely disappeared from the area.
  • $1.2 million to purchase land in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in central Georgia. These funds will help protect a critical ecological area while providing drinking water to area residents while also enhancing opportunities for people to hunt and fish.
  • $1.2 million to buy land for the Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, located along the Ocmulgee River in Bibb and Twiggs counties. The popular destination for hikers sits six miles south of Macon also provides habitat for a broad array of wildlife ranging from migratory birds to the largemouth bass.

“Protecting these lands is a tremendous investment in the health of our environment and our communities,” said Frank Peterman, a Georgia director for The Wilderness Society. “It’s good to see tax dollars coming back here and doing the right thing.”

Now that Obama has approved the funding, nonprofit organizations such as the Trust for Public Land will work with the federal government to acquire the land.

“We’re thrilled to see the Department of Interior treat the Georgia projects as such a high priority,” said Helen Tapp, the Georgia director of the Trust for Public Land. “The effort to save the Hyde Farm will ultimately create a time capsule that educates people about a way of life that’s nearly gone. The Bond Swamp initiative will help save wildlife and expand a greenway that that will be a treasure of people and animals alike.”

The Interior appropriations bill President Obama signed also provides $200,000 to Morehouse College to preserve the papers of Martin Luther King Jr.

“Conserving the work of great Georgians as well as Georgia’s great lands honors what residents of our state are about as a people,” said Peterman, a Morehouse alumni. “We care about preserving both the fabric of our past and the public lands that we will rely on in the future.”

This is a joint release by The Wilderness Society and Trust for Public Land.