Georgia Finds Common Ground for Conservation
By Robert Ramsay, President of the Georgia Conservancy
This Friday, the Georgia Conservancy will celebrate the 2018 Distinguished Conservationist at our gala, ecoBenefête. The annual award honors a Georgian who has gone above and beyond to forward conservation in our state. With the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment appearing as Amendment One on the November 6 general election ballot, it is very apt that this year we will honor Rob Williams, a cornerstone of the Institute of Georgia Environmental Leadership (IGEL).
We truly believe that without Rob Williams and the powerful influence IGEL has had on so many in leadership roles throughout our state, Georgians would not have the opportunity this November to vote on such a transformational conservation initiative like the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment, a referendum that, if approved by voters, will dedicate more than $20 million annually for the conservation of Georgia’s natural resources without raising taxes.
Through his various roles at IGEL, Rob Williams has helped to create an incredibly influential program that has provided environmental education, leadership development and conflict resolution skills to hundreds of Georgians, many of whom are today’s statewide leaders in business, science, conservation, industry, education and government, enabling them to constructively work through some of Georgia’s most pressing environmental challenges.
The passage of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act during the 2018 General Assembly and its subsequent signing by Governor Nathan Deal was the direct result of the IGEL’s intense focus on finding solutions in a sea of contrasting backgrounds and opinions.
Most Georgians can agree that the protection of our lands, water and wildlife, as well as access to nature-based recreation, are very important to the future of our state. How we choose to go about it, though, is where some of those agreements often come to an end. The solution becomes the challenge.
Through hundreds of constructive and thoughtful meetings and conversations with and amongst our state legislators from both sides of the aisle a strong conservation measure was decided upon, one that has the opportunity to vastly improve not only the quality and health of our land and water, but also the lives of Georgia’s citizens.
IGEL alumni and the lessons that they have learned from Rob Williams are at the heart of not only the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition, but many of the organizations, businesses and governments that have supported and called for dedicated conservation funding. His fingerprints have been present in all of these decisions and they are evident in the often challenging work we face to protect and conserve Georgia’s natural resources.
Robert Ramsay is the President of the Georgia Conservancy and is an IGEL alumnus.
To learn more about the Georgia Conservancy and Friday’s ecoBenefête celebration of Rob Williams, please visit: www.georgiaconservancy.org
To learn more about the mission of the Institute of Georgia Environmental Leadership, please visit: www.igeleaders.org
To learn more about the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment and Coalition, please visit: www.georgiaoutdoorstewardship.org. The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition includes The Georgia Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, The Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride and The Trust for Public Land
Featured image (top): Cloudland Canyon State Park by Georgia Conservancy member, William Brawley.