Senator David Perdue and Congressman Doug Collins on Wednesday introduced legislation to improve management of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest by creating a more cohesive park boundary, which would also improve opportunities for hunting, fishing, and hiking.
“The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is an important economic generator,” said Senator Perdue, a member of the Agriculture Committee.
“These updated park boundaries will make the land more manageable for our park rangers and improve opportunities for hunting, fishing, and hiking within the forest. Equally as important, a cohesive park boundary and management area is a more efficient use of taxpayer money.”
“The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest Land Adjustment Act represents a commonsense approach to better conserve federal forest lands in northeast Georgia while also eliminating federal waste and providing more recreation opportunities for hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts,” said Congressman Collins. “I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation with Senator David Perdue to ensure that our beautiful natural resources—including the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest—can better be enjoyed by Georgians.”
Senator Perdue and Congressman Collins were joined by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Congressmen Rick Allen (R-GA-12), Buddy Carter (R-GA-01), Drew Ferguson (R-GA-03), and Barry Loudermilk (R-GA-11) in this effort, which has earned praise from The Nature Conservancy.
“Updating the boundaries of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest will improve the efficiency of management and is a win for the community, a win for visitors and a win for taxpayers,” said Senator Johnny Isakson. “I’m pleased to once again support these efforts.”
“Senator Perdue and Representative Collins clearly understand that this legislation will allow the U.S. Forest Service, in collaboration with partners like The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund, to better steward northeast Georgia’s natural resources and provide more benefits to all Georgians,” said Deron Davis, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy in Georgia.
Currently, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) owns a substantial number of small, isolated tracts of land disconnected from the core lands of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. Encroachment from growth and development has caused these tracts to lose their principle value for National Forest purposes, as they are outliers from the core forest block. This legislation outlines a solution, authorizing the sale of 30 isolated parcels identified as desired disposal by the USFS.
All proceeds from land sales will go directly to USFS and may only be used to buy inholding properties of high-value for conservation, recreation, and management from sellers within the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest boundary. Additionally, selling isolated parcels puts this land back on county tax rolls and revenue generated can be used to buy inholdings from willing sellers.