First Outdoor Stewardship Program Grants Announced

Georgia's new program is funded by revenue from the sales tax on outdoor gear. Program funds purchases and improves parks, trails and DNR projects.

GON Staff | March 24, 2020

DNR recently announced the selection of the first Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program “Conserve Georgia” grants for conservation and outdoor recreation projects.

Grants are awarded through the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP). In 2018, Georgia voters passed Amendment 1 to authorize the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act. GOSP is Georgia’s first source of dedicated funding for the conservation of priority lands, the stewardship of state parks and wildlife management areas, and the support of local parks and trails. State sales tax generated from outdoor equipment and gear funds the program.

Of the 14 projects selected, eight projects are by local governments or nonprofit organizations for the development or stewardship of local parks or trail systems.

Here are the six DNR projects approved for grant money:

• Cabin Bluff Acquisition, Camden County, $2,555,000: DNR plans to acquire 7,958 acres of property which will be managed as a WMA and 3,217 acres under a conservation easement for a total of 11,175 acres in Camden County.

• Ceylon Acquisition (Phase I), Camden County, $3,504,000: DNR plans to acquire more than 4,000 acres in Camden County to be managed as a WMA.

• ­Noyes Cut Ecosystem Restoration Project, Camden County, $1,733,833: DNR is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to close and fill the no-longer-needed Noyes Cut on the Satilla River in order to restore fisheries in coastal waters.

• Sprewell Bluff Longleaf Pine Restoration, Meriwether County, $69,025: DNR plans to restore approximately 550 acres of loblolly pine plantation to longleaf pine habitat on Sprewell Bluff WMA.

• Sandhills Longleaf Pine Restoration, Taylor County, $26,884: DNR plans to restore approximately 125 acres of longleaf pine on the West Unit of Sandhills WMA. Restoration of this habitat will benefit populations of gopher tortoise, loggerhead shrike, Bachman’s sparrow, coal skink, and southern hognose snake, among other species of conservation concern.

• Post-Hurricane Michael Longleaf Pine Restoration at Silver Lake and Chickasawhatchee, $60,500: DNR plans to replant containerized longleaf seedlings on 500 acres of storm-damaged pine stands on Silver Lake and Chickasawhatchee WMAs.

The eight projects by local governments and non-profits that were approved for GOSP grants were:

Forsyth County, Eagles Beak Park – $2,250,000: Forsyth County plans to create a 225-acre outdoor passive recreation space along the biologically diverse Etowah River. This project will serve as a recreation corridor for residents and visitors, featuring a large greenspace area, ADA-approved play park and extensive trail system marking the historical Trail of Tears. 

Jefferson County, Where the Moss Meets the River – $898,983: Jefferson County plans to develop 230 acres of lowland forest bordering the meandering Ogeechee River to enhance and expand opportunities for recreation, healthy living and wellness, nature education and conservation of land for public use. Park facilities will include new hiking and mountain biking trails, campsites, outdoor classroom and kayak launch.

 City of Johns Creek, Cauley Creek Park Development – $3,000,000: The City of Johns Creek plans to develop the 200-acre Cauley Creek Park located on the Chattahoochee River between Abbotts Bridge Chattahoochee River NRA and National Park Service land. The funds will be directly used to develop the park into a community destination that both serves the local population and encourages visitation by providing nature-based recreational opportunities such as hiking, biking, fishing and wildlife viewing that are not presently available in the area.

 South Fork Conservancy, Confluence Natural Trail Network and Blueway – $950,500: South Fork Conservancy plans to create two-miles of nature trails in the heart of Atlanta, connecting four regional trail networks and 25 acres of greenspace. This project will enable hundreds of thousands of residents within a 10-minute walk of the trail to enjoy new outdoor recreational opportunities in some of the most park-deficient neighborhoods of Atlanta.

Trees Atlanta, Inc., Atlanta BeltLine Westside Extension Trail – $1,000,000: Trees Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and the PATH Foundation plan to construct the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail Extension to the Silver Comet Trail. The project will help close the gap between downtown Atlanta and the Silver Comet Trail, while also addressing fragmented wildlife habitat in an urban environment by extending the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum.

 The Trust for Public Land, Chattahoochee Camp and Paddle Trail – $2,260,000: The Trust for Public Land plans to create a 48-mile long camp and paddle trail on the Chattahoochee River. Funds will be used to install three rustic campsites within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area boundary to enable multi-day paddling trips.

Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Restore Our River – $550,000: Athens-Clarke County plans to re-establish high-quality wildlife habitat, enhance ecosystem services and provide enhanced outdoor recreation opportunities along the North Oconee River in Athens’ downtown district. This project creates the first publicly accessible water trail on the North Oconee River as well as in Athens-Clarke County.

 City of Winder, Winder/Fort Yargo Multi-Use Connector Trail – $1,001,757: The City of Winder plans to construct a one-mile multi-use trail for walking, bicycling, inline skating and nature viewing from downtown Winder to Fort Yargo State Park. The 10 ft.-wide pathway will create access for residents, park patrons and visitors to and from the state park and the city.

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