The GreenRoom January 2007

Some very good news for Georgia’s environment came out of the November elections, starting in Paulding County, where voters passed, by a 71 percent margin, a bond referendum to spend $15.2 million to purchase 7,000 acres of parkland adjacent to national forests for a total of 10,000 acres of contiguous space. It was a heroic moment for a county that has seen its share of growing pains. The Nature Conservancy and neighboring Polk County provided support for the deal.

At the same time, neighboring (and similarly Republican) Cobb County passed a $40 million bond referendum by 73 percent to buy greenspace. The counties join Gwinnett and DeKalb in taking greenspace funding into their own hands in the absence of significant state support.

Meanwhile, Democrats have called for a land deal probe concerning Gov. Sonny Perdue’s property adjacent to Oaky Woods Plantation, a 20,000-acre preserve which was sold to developers in 2004. Perdue won the election handily, but hunters and fishermen in middle Georgia are mad as wet hornets.

A Perdue spokesman said the state was “strapped for cash” at the time and that the Governor was disappointed that the Georgia Depart-ment of Natural Resources didn’t buy the property, according to the Macon Telegraph; but the governor had in fact purchased 101 acres adjacent to Oaky Woods a few days after the state opted out. The land has since doubled in value, reports the Telegraph.

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