Legislative action items
Not only are Conservation Districts an arm of state government, they also act as advocates for their communities in the political arena. Most, if not all, natural resource management is controlled through policy. Legislation attempts to remedy resource problems and allocate funding to solutions.
The following bills are urgent conservation legislation that requires a unified District voice.
Summary of Concerns
Georgia Conservation District Supervisors representing all 159 counties have several significant concerns with HB 422 including unintended consequences.
Specific concerns with HB 422 are:
· HB 422 appears to be an effort to deal with delays associated with state review and approval of ESC plans.
· Delays associated with state approval of ESC plans relate to the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, not local Conservation Districts (which would be bypassed if HB 422 is approved as currently drafted).
· GACD is comprised of the 40 local Conservation Districts throughout the state and has been working to implement a solution for the delays associated with ESC plan approvals.
· HB 422 as proposed appears to dilute the state’s commitment to protecting water resources, which is one of the primary issues included in the current “water wars” lawsuit involving Georgia, Alabama and Florida (unintended consequence).
· HB 422 as proposed could potentially remove local Conservation Districts providing local governments with unbiased technical assistance related to ESC issues including problem/complaint resolutions, leaving only the state EPD to do so (unintended consequence).
· The GACD solution corrects delays associated with ESC plan approvals without negative unintended consequences.
The Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD) has been working the past 12 months to put in place an Alternative Plan Review Program to provide an alternative technical procedure for completing the District’s responsibility to review erosion and sediment control (ESC) plans. GACD will begin this program April 1, 2019. The Alternative Plan Review Program will allow all Districts across Georgia, in both urban and rural areas, a means to complete the District’s plan review responsibility in an effective and timely manner.