The GreenRoom: April 2006

In what could be a first for Georgia conservation efforts, the Nature Conservancy purchased 299 acres of land in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Lumpkin County in February, to be turned over to the Georgia Department of Transportation for safekeeping. The property is traversed by five freshwater streams, including the main stem of the biologically rich Etowah River, a system that has faced development-related threats to more aquatic species than any of its size in the country.The GDOT plans to establish a mitigation bank – an aquatic resource that is restored, established or enhanced to compensate for unavoidable impacts to other aquatic resources – on the land. The Etowah River basin is a high-priority conservation area, and the mitigation will provide the state a large number of credits as part of a multi-tiered land deal between the Nature Conservancy and the GDOT that will also include an additional 180 acres to be purchased in the next year. Because it is adjacent to the Chattahoochee, the GDOT will probably contract long-term management plans for the land with the Forest Service.

February marked the first meeting of the Transit Planning Board, established by the Atlanta Regional Commission to create an integrated, regional transit group (potentially with its own funding support) that could finally improve Atlanta’s chronically underfunded MARTA system.

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