Congress has made available millions of dollars to pay Georgia landowners who agree not to use their land for the development of subdivisions.
Each of Georgia’s 159 counties is eligible for many of these programs, yet in many years the money is returned to Washington, D.C., unused, according to Fuller Callaway of the Georgia Conservancy Land Conservation Program. Most landowners who could receive payment under these U.S. Department of Agriculture programs simply are unaware that they qualify, he said.
Owners of working farms may be eligible for the farm and ranch protection program. Those who own land along swamps, marshes or streams may be eligible for the wetland reserve program.
Pastures and grasslands may be covered under the grassland reserve program.
The USDA will make cash payments to landowners based on acreage in exchange for their agreement to permanently protect their qualifying land from certain uses such as subdivision development, strip mining or aggressive timber-cutting practices, Callaway said.
While these uses are restricted, almost all others are not. The owners can continue to own their land and may hunt, fish, hike and continue certain farming and timber practices.
The Georgia Conservancy is a statewide, nonprofit organization that works to protect the state’s natural environment by advocating for sound environmental policies, advancing sustainable growth practices and facilitating common-ground solutions to environmental challenges. Learn more at www.georgiaconservancy.org.
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