GreenRoom: May 2007

• Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell has donated nearly 300 acres of his middle Georgia plantation to the state as a conservation easement. Leavell is one of the first to use a new law allowing landowners and corporations to receive income tax credits for preserving undeveloped property; only six have applied for the credits so far but Leavell’s star power may attract more attention.

The easement, valued around $500,000, will be held initially by the Conservation Fund, and ultimately transferred to the Georgia Forestry Commission to be held in perpetuity.

Leavell was appointed to the Governor’s Land Conservation Council in September and has lobbied the legislature to restore funding to the land conservation budget, which was halved by House budget writers this year. Star power seems to work: the House Appropriations Committee restored nearly $10 million to the allocation (initally proposed for $50 million).

• Though House Bill 463 wasn’t expected to pass the Senate this session, it’s sure to return. Sponsored by Rep. Tom McCall (R-Elberton), the measure was intended to reduce education requirements for developers, contractors and others involved in processes that cause soil erosion. McCall says he was trying to clarify who needs training and who doesn’t.

Opponents of the measure, such as the Georgia Environmental Action Network, say, “Even more people need to be trained to protect our waterways – not fewer.” – Ben Young

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