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Conservancy ready to help in wetlands reserve program

POSTED: June 2, 2014 7:54 p.m.

In recent weeks, Congress has passed legislation to provide hundreds of millions of dollars for American landowners who agree to certain conservation measures for their land. Each county in Georgia has land which may be eligible for these programs.

In many years, money appropriated by Congress goes unused because landowners are unaware that their land qualifies.

A statewide, nonprofit organization that works to protect Georgia’s natural environment by assisting landowners in protecting their land, the Georgia Conservancy works annually with hundreds of Georgians in finding conservation solutions for their land and financial circumstances.

Federal programs which pay landowners to agree to conserve their land often apply to a broad variety of land types. Swamps, bogs, and marshes may be eligible for programs protecting wetlands. Working farms and ranches may be eligible for programs which protect prime soils or pristine grasslands.

While subdivision may be restricted as a condition of cash payment, almost all other uses are not. Owners continue to hunt, fish, hike, and farm their land.

The Georgia Conservancy has helped landowners secure millions of dollars under these programs. One recipient from South Georgia was paid to protect nearly 1,500 acres of wetlands on a family farm.

“I just couldn’t believe it when they told me I might be eligible. I had never even heard of these programs. It sounded a little too good to be true,” he said. “But the Georgia Conservancy was right. My land qualified and the U.S. government sent me a check for more money than I had ever seen. It has allowed me to hold on to this farm my great grandfather started.”

Landowners who live in coastal Georgia and are interested in exploring these and other conservation opportunities may contact Clay Mobley at the Georgia Conservancy’s Savannah office, (912) 447-5910, or email him at cmobley@gaconservancy.org.

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