Bravo Zulu GA DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries! (BZ is a succinct compliment, often used by the Marines and Navy, meaning Well Done.) According to Gov. Deal’s new budget proposal, the number of dollars generated for Georgia’s economy per dollar of state funds spent on fisheries management and fisheries is $407! That’s a 407% return on investment and up from $242 per dollar spent in 2012. BZ indeed!
What happened under the Gold Dome last week that’s of concern to cold, clean, fishable water? The 2013-2014 Georgia General Assembly went into session on Monday. During the session’s first week, 110 House Bills and 48 House Resolutions along with 49 Bills and 27 Resolutions from the Senate have been filed. Here’s the highlights…
Sportsman’s and Coastal Day at the Capitol (HR 15 and SR 14) was declared on January 17th, proclaiming “Georgia is one of the most geographically and biologically diverse areas in the nation, with abundant plant and animal populations that provide its citizens with unrivaled opportunities for recreation and commerce while also sustaining a quality of life that makes this state a great place to live and work.” We agree. Georgia Trout Unlimited was represented at Sportsman’s by a contingent of council leaders. See Hook and Bullet Day at the Capitol.
Gov. Nathan Deal gave his State of the State Address. Gone were the numerous references to water supply that dominated last year’s address.
The Governor also presented his FY 2014 Budget. While the total budgets for Wildlife Resources, Environmental Protection and Parks remain relatively unchanged this year, positions are eliminated to finance Employees’ Retirement System obligations and other programs. 2 filled and 3 vacant positions in Wildlife Resources, 6 vacant positions in Environmental protection and 2 filled positions in Parks are slated to be eliminated. Operating expenses are reduced in all three areas. However, $500,000 is designated to fund and assist financially struggling Regional Water Councils in the Environmental Protection budget. No funds are set aside for land conservation in FY 2014, down from $3.9 million in FY 2011. Reservoirs are a priority for Water Resources and Land Use Planning.
In the Senate, Sen. Ross Tolleson returns as Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Lynn Smith returns as Natural Resources Chairwomen and Rep. Jon Burns as Game, Fish and Parks in the House.
We’ll be working closely with other sportsman’s and conservation groups to keep Georgia’s trout water cold, clean and fishable.
See you on the stream.
Kevin McGrath is Georgia Trout Unlimited’s Advocacy Chairman.