Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
Why it Matters: Georgia previously passed No-Net-Loss legislation which limits the loss of access to hunting opportunity by establishing a minimum acreage of state-owned areas open to sportsmen and women. HB 1349 would extend the baseline date from 2005 to 2022 from which the DNR managed state-owned lands acreage is measured. The DNR has acquired new Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) since 2005 so it is important to update the statute to reflect the acreage currently available for hunting.
Georgia is home to over 100 WMAs, which are managed by the Georgia DNR. These WMAs are managed to enhance wildlife populations and their habitats as well as to increase public access for hunting and other compatible recreational uses for sportsmen and women in Georgia.
Sportsmen and women generated funding, through the American System of Conservation Funding, is the primary driver for the acquisition and management of Georgia’s WMAs. Additionally, the establishment of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP), provided the state with increased funding opportunities to purchase and manage additional lands open to sportsmen and women. The passage of HB 1349 would ensure that any lands purchased by the state through the GOSP that provide public access for hunting are protected under the updated No-Net loss statute.
The lack of access to hunting lands is cited as a primary reason that hunters stop participating in hunting, making the passage of No-Net-Loss legislation important to the continued tradition of hunting and fishing in the state of Georgia.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to coordinate with in-state partners, Caucus, and DNR to support these bills in the Senate.
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?