Chapter 305-1 PROGRAM DESCRIPTION AND RULES FOR GEORGIA LAND CONSERVATION COUNCIL & GEORGIA ENVIRONMENTAL FINANCE AUTHORITY
The General Assembly recognizes that the state-wide network of land and water resources, the state's prime agricultural and forestry lands and its natural, cultural, historic, and recreational areas are a priceless legacy that enhance the health of ecosystems, encourage working landscapes, foster natural resource stewardship, sustain a healthy economy, and promote a sustainable high quality of life for current and future generations of Georgians (O.C.G.A Sec. 12-6A-1).
Rule 305-1-.03 The Citation to the Statutory Basis for the Program in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated or Other General Law of the State of Georgia
The Georgia Land Conservation Program is authorized and established in accordance with the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 12-6A-1, et seq.
|(1)||The scope of the Program is to permanently protect land and water, or interests therein, that is in its undeveloped, natural state or that has been developed only to an extent that does not interfere with its conservation value.|
|(2)|| The following types of resources will be
eligible for consideration in meeting the scope of the Program:
|(3)||The purpose of the Program is to promote partnerships for the conservation of land resources that are identified by cities or counties as locally valuable or identified by the Department of Natural Resources (Department) as having statewide significance, as well as to provide land conservation funding options in cooperation with private, non-profit and tax exempt organizations to augment currently available local, state, and federal funding (O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-1).|
|(1)||Cities, counties, the commission, other state departments or agencies, other state authorities, and nongovernmental entities may develop, submit and sponsor a 'land conservation project' to permanently protect locally identified land resources with high environmental values or conservation benefits (O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-2).|
|(2)||The Department will assist cities, counties, the commission, other state departments or agencies, other state authorities, and nongovernmental entities with the development of land conservation project proposals including Program requirements and technical assistance with real estate transactions (O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-10).|
|(3)|| The Georgia Environmental Finance
Authority (Authority) will review each land conservation project proposal for:
|(4)|| The Department will review
each land conservation project proposal for:
Authority and the Department will make recommendations to the Council based on
the review of each land conservation project, including recommended funding
sources, funding levels, and terms and conditions (O.C.G.A. Sec.
and (2)) and (O.C.G.A. Sec.
Georgia Land Conservation Council
|(6)||The Council is composed of the State Property Officer, who shall serve as chairperson, the commissioner of the Department, the director of the State Forestry Commission, the executive director of the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, and four additional members to be appointed by and to serve at the pleasure of the Governor (O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-3(a)).|
|(7)|| The Council shall review each land
conservation project proposal and shall consider the recommendations of the
Authority and the Department, as well as the Program's procedures, conditions,
components, priorities, and criteria. The decision of the Council that a land
conservation project complies with all of the required terms and conditions and
is approved shall cause the city, county, Department, commission, other state
department or agency, other state authority, or nongovernmental entity to
become eligible for funding (O.C.G.A. Sec.
|(8)||The Georgia Land Conservation Trust Fund and the Georgia Land Conservation Revolving Loan Fund have been established to consist of any moneys appropriated, paid under an intergovernmental contract, voluntarily contributed, any federal moneys deposited, and other moneys acquired by any fund raising or other promotional techniques. All balances in the funds will be deposited in interest-bearing accounts (O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-4 (a.1)).|
|(9)|| Within the trust fund,
moneys will be made available in each fiscal year for grants to the Department,
commission, other state departments or agencies, or other state authorities
having an approved land conservation project or for grants to cities and
|(10)||Within the revolving loan fund, moneys will made available in each fiscal year for loans to cities, counties, and nongovernmental entities having approved land conservation projects or for loans to state authorities specified by the Department for purposes of approved land conservation projects of the Department. Any such loan shall bear interest at a rate established by the Authority (O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-4(c)).|
|(11)|| Moneys granted from the trust fund or
from the revolving loan fund shall be expended solely to defray the costs of
acquisition as defined in O.C.G.A Sec.
of conservation land or of conservation easements that contribute to the goals
set out for conservation land in O.C.G.A. Sec
|(12)||The General Assembly recognizes the critical role nonprofit conservation organizations and organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code have in partnering with cities, counties, and the state in accomplishing land conservation goals (O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-11).|
|(13)|| The Council shall adopt the means, such
as a memorandum of understanding, by which organizations that are tax-exempt
under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code may enter into
partnerships with cities, counties, the Department, the Commission, other state
departments and agencies, and other state authorities to assist with:
|(14)|| The Department may, by
agreement with a city, county, or nongovernmental entity accept and administer
property acquired by the city, county, or nongovernmental entity or may make
such other agreements for the ownership and operation of the property as are
outlined in Code Sections
Geographic Information System
|(15)||The Department shall establish the State Land Conservation Geographic Information System by maintaining its current geographic information system data and maps related to land conservation; annually updating its land conservation data and maps based on the acquisitions of land conservation projects; and monitoring progress in protecting the state's land resources (O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-10(a)).|
|(16)||The Department shall make its geographic information system data and maps available to cities, counties, the Commission, other state departments or agencies, and other state authorities to assist them in the strategic investment of land conservation projects in land resources with high environmental values or conservation benefits as based on the conservation goals set forth in O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-1et seq. (O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-10(a) and (b)).|
|(17)||As a condition of project approval and release of funds the grant or loan recipient shall be required to record acquisitions of real or partial interest in land purchased by using grants or loans with the Department (O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-4(e)).|
Eligible recipients of the Program are Cities, Counties, the Department, the Commission, other state departments, agencies, and authorities and nongovernmental entities. Applications may be obtained by contacting the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.
|(1)|| The policy(ies) of the Program shall
identify the criteria by which all land conservation project applications shall
be reviewed by the Authority and the Department and approved by the Land
(O.C.G.A. Sec. 12-6A-5(e)).
|(2)|| The Council shall use, at a
minimum, the following criteria in granting project approval: