Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
Why It Matters: Conserving the land base open to hunting is critical to supporting Georgia’s outdoor heritage. While other states (such as Tennessee) have faced threats from state legislators attempting to transfer Wildlife Management Areas away from their respective fish and wildlife agencies, the Caucus and the Georgia General Assembly recognize the importance of protecting the state’s investments in its Wildlife Management Area (WMA) system to provide and maintain hunting access for Georgia’s sportsmen and women.
Georgia’s No-Net-Loss statute currently sets the year 2005 as the baseline year to measure the acreage available for hunting opportunities on Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) managed state-owned lands. Since then, the DNR has acquired new WMAs open to hunting that are not included in the original baseline. Therefore, it is important to capture the new acreage in the No-Net-Loss statute to ensure that the statute is reflective of the current hunting opportunities available to Georgia’s sportsmen and women.
Sometimes referred to as “Hunting Heritage Protection Acts,” No-Net-Loss statutes are policies that limit the loss of access for sportsmen by establishing a minimum acreage of public-owned land.
“This legislation is about protecting hunting and fishing for future generations. With this update to our No-Net-Loss law, more than half a million acres of state-owned hunting land will now be protected,” said primary bill sponsor and Caucus Member Representative Jason Ridley.
Georgia’s WMAs are purchased and/or managed with funds generated through the American System of Conservation Funding and through funding provided by the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program. WMAs are primarily managed for hunting, fishing, and wildlife associated recreation, and they provide public access for sportsmen and women to engage in their outdoor pursuits, many of whom rely solely on these lands to hunt or fish.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) would like to thank in-state partners, the Georgia DNR and the Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, with whom CSF coordinated, for their leadership advancing this important legislation. Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign the bill into law.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?