The Georgia Conservancy, founded in 1968, has worked on a host of land and water conservation projects, as well as clean air programs around the State. As parks and other protected land was being created around the country, the founders wanted to bring that to Georgia. Some of the early successes include the creation of Panola Mountain State Park and Sweet Water Creek State Park, as well as getting the water flowing through cities like Columbus.
As a 501(c)(3) charity, member support is of vital importance, both financially and with the issues they can bring to their state legislators. The Conservancy is always looking for solutions to really complex problems, with many stakeholders. As such, they recognize that compromise is not a bad thing, and they consider the concerns of all constituencies, taking those issues to the legislature.
The Conservancy operates in five main areas:
Trips and Stewardship — Bryan Schroeder is in charge of trips and stewardships. This includes expanding the community outreach programs to traditionally under-represented communities. One such very successful initiative is working with students from Morehouse and Spelman Colleges on activities that include teaching them to set up tents and camp out.
Advocacy — The Conservancy works closely with State representatives to help support good legislation and to prevent bad legislation from being passed.
Sustainable Growth — This program helps communities plan for economic growth in a more sustainable, thoughtful manner.
Land Owner Protection — This program helps land owners protect their land and conserve it for plants, animals, and people.
Coastal Program — The focus here is on protecting Georgia’s 100-mile coastline, which includes one-third of all the coastal marsh on the Atlantic coast. It is also second only to Louisiana in terms of most saltwater marsh in the country. This is vitally important because the marshes are effectively the nurseries for the ocean. For example, the North Atlantic Right Whale calves here. There are only 450 of these whales left in the world, and Georgia is the only place they come to calve.
The conservancy is not the keeper for any single given natural resource, but instead every natural state resource. They are also focused nearly exclusively on Georgia concerns. They do work with interstate groups, particularly when sharing experiences and knowledge, but Georgia is first and foremost for them.
The Conservancy, with Schroeder leading the trip and stewardship program, arranges and hosts many events throughout the year. These include camping trips, singles trips, family trips, and even whitewater rafting through the center of Columbus! Many of the trips include information on local historical events and people, such as Horace King, a man born into slavery but went into business with his former owner upon being emancipated, who invented the flying staircase, built bridges all around Georgia, and was one of the first African American people elected to the Alabama House of Representatives.
One of the most exciting camps is the Flint River Family Adventure, which will include camping, white-water rafting, and archery. The camp takes place two weeks after Dragon Con. Visit the Conservancy’s events calender for more information.
Please be sure to visit the charity events throughout the weekend to participate in raising funds for this important charity and their wonderful work. The four charity events are staggered over Saturday and Sunday so everyone can make it to each event. You can find more information on the charity when-and-where’s here.
Our thanks to Robert Ramsay, Bryan Schroeder, and Brian Foster from the Georgia Conservancy for taking the time to talk to us.