Harnessing the Power of Georgia’s Outdoor Economy
By Deron Davis, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in Georgia
If I asked you about the drivers of our state’s economy, you might mention agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, tourism, film or even the siting of corporate headquarters. One critical element of Georgia’s financial strength that may not come to mind immediately is our “outdoor economy” – revenue generated from hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities enjoyed by the residents of and visitors to our state. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, a national trade organization of manufacturers and retailers, Georgia’s $27 billion outdoor recreation industry and $60.8 billion tourism industry depend on access to forests, waterways, coastal treasures and community parks statewide. Hunters and anglers alone contribute nearly $4 billion to Georgia’s economy every year.
The natural resources that are the foundation of the state’s outdoor economy also contribute to the quality of our lives by cleaning our air and water, buffering us from extreme weather events and providing homes for wildlife. Ensuring the protection of the natural resources that sustain us is in the best interest of the citizens of Georgia, today AND tomorrow. With the continued and often exponential growth of communities across Georgia, the State now must take the logical step of consistently and reliably investing in land and water conservation.
That’s why The Nature Conservancy in Georgia is championing the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act (GOSA). With approval by the legislature and voters, GOSA would establish an estimated $40 million in annual funding for the protection and management of conservation lands and the development of community parks by dedicating a portion of existing sales tax on sporting goods equipment.
Passing GOSA means, at no additional cost to Georgia taxpayers or businesses, we would develop and implement long-range plans that balance the needs of our economy and our environment. The funding would be used to acquire and manage lands critical to the protection of our water supplies and wildlife and that provide places for people to relax, reflect and connect with the natural world.
Harnessing the power of Georgia’s outdoor economy through GOSA would provide dramatic conservation results. Georgians have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help secure our economy, sustain and even improve the quality of our lives. By passing the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act we will ensure a reliable, long-term funding source for conservation that touches the lives of people in every corner of our state. Learn more about the bill at georgiaoutdoorstewardship.org, talk to your legislators and plan to vote in favor of GOSA in the 2018 general election.
Photo Above: Scenic view of rolling hills in autumn against a pink sky, Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia – © Byron Jorjorian