In 1999, Governor Roy Barnes announced the Georgia Community Greenspace Program, an initiative to permanently protect 20% of rapidly developing counties and municipalities as green space. Funded in 2000 by the Georgia legislature, the program provided $30 million in its first year for local governments to acquire and protect land. The Institute of Ecology Office of Public Service and Outreach helped several local governments prepare their initial applications and plans for greenspace protection, including Jackson, Hall, Cherokee and Macon-Bibb Counties.
In January 2004 Governor Sonny Perdue announced the formation of a new program, the Georgia Land Conservation Partnership. The comprehensive land conservation plan will summarize the need for land conservation, describe and identify the most vulnerable and valuable areas for protection, establish goals for land conservation, and develop and describe strategies for land protection. Included in the plan will be specific strategies for statewide conservation, community greenspace programs, and state, regional, and local partnerships with private individuals, corporations, foundations, land trusts, and conservation organizations. River Center Co-Director Laurie Fowler and Distinguished Fellow Pierre Howard were named to this partnership, which reported its recommendations in August 2004.
Governor appoints River Center’s Fowler and Howard to Georgia Land Conservation Partnership, 1/28/04.
Georgia Land Conservation Partnership Plan: A Report to Governor Sonny Perdue, August 2004, Georgia Land Conservation Partnership Advisory Council. Report proposes a state land conservation plan that emphasizes partnerships with local governments, the private sector, and other institutions for a cooperative movement to achieve appropriate land conservation goals.
In 2004, staff economist Nanette Nelson authored two papers on the economic impacts of land use decisions. In November she published Evaluating the Economic Impact of Community Open Space and Urban Forests: A Literature Review, a study funded by Urban and Community Forest Grant Assistance Program administered through the Georgia Forestry Commission. In March, she completed a USFS-funded study of the economic effects of different greenspace protection tools, Estimating the Economic Benefit of Landscape Pattern: An Hedonic Analysis of Spatial Landscape Indices and a Comparison of Build-Out Scenarios for The Protection of Ecosystem Functions with co-authors Liz Kramer, Jeffrey Dorfman, and Bill Bumback.
In 2002 Ms. Nelson received a grant from the Urban and Community Forestry Program administered through the Georgia Forestry Commission to research the effects of trees on property values. Her findings are compiled in the report The Potential for Community Forests to be Self-Financing: An Hedonic Analysis of the Enhancement Value of Georgia’s Trees.
In 2001-2002 the office worked with Lose Associates and Greenways, Inc. to prepare a long-term comprehensive greenspace protection plan for Gwinnett County. The Gwinnett County Open Space and Greenway Master Plan was named the “Outstanding Planning Document of 2002” by the Georgia Planning Association.
In 2001 the Office of Public Service & Outreach was awarded a grant by the Georgia Forestry Commission to identify opportunities to regionalize the separate greenspace plans developed by the Upper Etowah and Lake Allatoona Counties in order to more effectively protect water quality and biodiversity. The Etowah Regional Greenspace Plan is being created by graduate students in the MS in Conservation Ecology degree program and the Etowah Practicum. Their proposed design won a national competition.