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Budget bolsters natural resources
Hill Jack
State Sen. Jack Hill

As a state with boundless natural resources, Georgia leaders work to protect those resources with legislation, to promote hunting and fishing and to fund various water initiatives, preserve natural resource areas and wildlife area preservation. This week, we look at legislation passed in the 2015 session and the fiscal year 2016 budget for Natural Resource areas.

• SB 62 - Allows probate courts to hear all game and fish violations rather than being limited to misdemeanors under present law. Solves a problem particularly in counties with no state court.

• SB 101 - Coastal Marshland Buffer bill establishes a 25-foot buffer along coastal marshlands in line with the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act and provides procedures for variances and variances by rule. Effective Dec. 31.

• SB112 - Authorizes and requires the Board of Natural Resources to establish recording and reporting requirements for all game animals and game birds harvested during hunting in addition to the present requirement for deer.

• SR 26 - Creates the Joint House and Senate Coastal Greenway Study Committee, which will examine the proposed Coastal Georgia Greenway Trail, which would connect various historical areas and greenspaces along the Coast an provide a link to the East Coast Greenway Trail running from Maine to Florida. Committee would consist of 13 members appointed by the Senate and House and other officials. Would be abolished on Dec. 1.

• HB 160 - Controversial raccoon trapping bill. Trapping of raccoons is presently permitted in much of middle and south Georgia but was prohibited in areas such as Atlanta and north Georgia. This bill allows trapping to be expanded to the northern part of the state. Stirred up much opposition not just in Georgia, but around the world.

• HB 199 - Sets uniform statewide notification requirements for timber harvesting operations. Requires harvesters to notify local governments before and upon completion of timber harvesting. Limits county to one bond requirement, regardless of the number of tracts being harvested.

• HB 475 - Establishes a permit requirement for the transport of live feral hogs to market. Also expands hunting of the nuisance hogs to allow night hunting, hunting from vehicles or airplanes and cross-bow hunting as well as with sound suppressors.

FY16 budget items affecting natural resource areas

Georgia Environmental Finance Authority — $10 million for the state match to the Federal State Revolving Fund Match, Clean and Drinking Water Programs.

Firefighting equipment for State Forestry Commission - $4 million.

Facility major improvements and renovations statewide - $160,000 and $300,000 for construction and equipment for North Bryan Forestry Unit, Pembroke.

Department of Natural Resources
• $950,000 — Replacement vehicles
• $19.93 million — Facility major improvements and renovations statewide for parks and other facilities.
• $5.72 million — New construction matching federal funds.
• $4.5 million — Acquisition for wildlife management areas and parks, to match federal and private funds
• $5 million — Purchase one new helicopter

Legislation and final action may be accessed online at and the State Budget can be accessed online at the Senate budget and Evaluation Web site

I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7094 (fax)
E-mail at
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811