Skip to content

Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program to Fund 12 Conservation Projects, Totaling More than $46 Million

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the selection of the 2023-2024 Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program grants for conservation and outdoor recreation projects.

Selected applicants will advance to the second-level application, marking the final level of the application process for their proposals. This funding cycle will allocate an impressive $20.6 million to support local parks and trails systems and state-owned lands. Notably, these grantees have pledged an additional estimated $26 million in matching funding.

Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources and Chairman of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund Board of Trustees, Walter Rabon, expressed the significance of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program stating, “By supporting projects aimed at the acquisition, development, and stewardship of local parks, trail systems, and conservation areas, we are not only protecting the natural heritage but also enhancing the recreational opportunities for our communities. This investment will ensure that Georgians can continue to enjoy and connect with the outdoors for generations to come.”

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program is Georgia’s first source of dedicated funding for the conservation of priority lands, the stewardship of state parks and wildlife management areas, and the support of local parks and trails. The competitive 2023-2024 grant cycle produced 34 submissions requesting a total of $63 million dollars in funding. Eligible applicants included local governments, recreation authorities, state agencies, and non-profit organizations. The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund Board of Trustees reviewed all projects and selected a slate of proposals, which was subsequently approved by the Board of Natural Resources and the Appropriations Subcommittees of the State House of Representatives and State Senate over DNR.

Of the 12 selected projects, five were awarded to local governments and non-profit organizations for the acquisition, development or stewardship of local parks or trail systems. Three proposals center on the acquisition of conservation lands by DNR, while four are designated for stewardship projects on state lands. The full list of selected projects is below. For more information about the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program and these grants, please visit www.gadnr.org/gosp.

2023-2024 Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program Selections

City of St. Marys
Tabby Trail for Eco-tourism and Stewardship; $1,735,400
The City of St. Marys project consists of constructing approximately four miles of multi-use trail for hiking, biking, wildlife-viewing, bird-watching, and environmental education. This segment will be part of the multi-state “East Coast Greenway” and will create a connection to Crooked River State Park.

This project will also provide public viewing access via a planned wildlife viewing platform, to the second largest Wood Stork rookery, in Georgia.

Glynn County
Coast Guard Beach Park; $3,000,000

The project at Coast Guard Beach Park will include an ADA-accessible viewing platform and boardwalk, a multi-use trail connector, a beach access viewing platform, a new wood plank path, parking expansion and improvements, a pedestrian walkway, and improvements to beach access.

This project will also have invasive species removal for vegetated buffers and addition of new trees. There will also be environmental education stations added.

The Beachfront Park will include kids play area, picnic area, car and trailer parking, and bike parking.

Lanier County
Improving Recreation & Water Quality; $1,491,057

Lanier County will construct a new campground and recreation facility that would serve the visitors to Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This project features wildlife viewing platforms, new waterway access and kayak launch, disc golf course, walking trail, boardwalk, and green space. The proposed campground will be equipped with full utility hookups, sanitary sewer, and shower and laundry facility.

This project also includes invasive species removal at Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Pike County Parks and Recreation Authority
Pike County Recreation Complex Improvements; $1,500,000

The Pike County Parks and Recreation Authority project will included the acquisition of 35 acres of woodland adjacent to the County’s sports recreation complex. This proposal will create nature-based recreation opportunities on a parcel that is currently inaccessible to park visitors and will include construction of a primitive hike-in campground, disc golf course, development of approximately 1 mile of soft surface trail and bridge, addition of a fishing dock and bird blind. A lighted parking lot, trail amenities, and educational signage will be installed.

The project will also include removal of invasive species and replanting the area along the stream buffer with native plants to create wildlife habitat, and stabilization of a section of the streambank to prevent erosion.

Trust for Public Land
Chattahoochee RiverLands Regional Trailhead; $3,000,000

The Trust for Public Land project will consist of development of a trailhead to access the Chattahoochee River Trail and the Chattahoochee RiverLands. In partnership with Cobb County, TPL will create new access in the 18-mile gap between the Chattahoochee River National Water Trail and a boat ramp in South Fulton.

This proposal includes a kayak launch, boat ramp, 40-space parking area, lawn, and trails.

Funding will also be used to help repair ecological damage and construct new woodlands, meadows, and green infrastructure.

Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division
Mocama Tract addition to Ceylon WMA; $2,100,000

The Wildlife Resources Division will use funds to assist with the acquisition of approximately 3,900-acre property known as Mocama Tract, which will expand the Ceylon Wildlife Management Area.

This acquisition will permanently protect a valuable wildlife habitat, which contains gopher tortoises, estuarine intertidal wetlands, freshwater forested wetlands, and longleaf pine forests. This project will also provide hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife observation opportunities.

(The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program funded acquisition of 27,000 acres of Ceylon Wildlife Management Area in 2020 and 2021.)

Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division
Dugdown Mountain Corridor – Treat Mountain Expansion; $2,100,000

The Wildlife Resources Division will use funds to assist in the acquisition of two tracts of land totaling 2,197 acres along the Dugdown Mountain Corridor that will be incorporated into Treat Mountain Wildlife Management Area. This acquisition will protect a habitat corridor high in biodiversity for rare plants, bats, and aquatic species. Public recreation opportunities will be provided including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife observation.

(The adjacent 8,384-acre property was also acquired using Outdoor Stewardship Funds in the past cycle.)

Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division
Conasauga WMA – Springbank Tract; $550,000

The Wildlife Resources Division will use funding to assist in the acquisition of approximately 183 acres of the property known as Springback Tract which has 1.1 miles of frontage along the Conasauga River. This acquisition would expand the Conasauga Wildlife Management Area, prevent further development, improve wildlife management, and add hunting, fishing, canoeing, hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities. This area is home to multiple federally listed and state protected species.

Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division
Noyes Cut Ecosystem Restoration, Phase II; $1,321,500

The Coastal Resources Division, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), project support phase 2 of the Noyes Cut, Satilla River Restoration.

This project will close marsh dynamite cuts of the 1930’s and 40’s through placement of approximately 20,000 tons of granite. The rock placement in phase 2 will complete the restoration project and will improve habitat and water quality, as well as recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

Phase 1 of Noyes Cut was partially funded using GOSP funds.

Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division
Habitat Restoration on State Lands, Phase 3; $629,500

The Wildlife Resources Division will conduct large scale habitat management practices on multiple state-owned properties managed by the Wildlife Resources Division.

This project will include reforestation, site preparation, and invasive plant removal, and will be focused on Coastal Plain habitats, including longleaf/slash pine savannas and flatwoods, as well as bottomland hardwood swamps.

Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division
Outdoor Recreation Enhancements on State PFAs; $1,600,000

The Wildlife Resources Division will make improvements to recreation and education opportunities at two Public Fishing Areas (PFAs); Evans County PFA and McDuffie PFA.

Evans County PFA: New lakeside amenities will be constructed including an aluminum boat mooring facility, kayak launch, and pavilion. Five additional campsites and ADA-accessible parking area will be constructed.

McDuffie PFA: Approximately 755 foot of interpretive wetlands boardwalk will be refurbished, campgrounds will be renovated; the existing campsites will be replaced with 20 modern RV and tent sites, including ADA compliant sites. A new ADA compliant comfort station will be installed.

Jekyll Island State Park Authority
From Golf to Wildlife-Corridor-Recreational-Park; $1,602,300

The Jekyll Island State Park Authority will build a wildlife-focused corridor and park.
GOSP funds will be used for restoration of upland habitat; a protected area will be constructed to plant and manage grass plugs needed for restoration. Approximately 32 acres of forested land will be underbrush. Oak and longleaf pine will be planted. Two bird rookery islands will be created within a freshwater pond to include nesting roosts.

Recreational enhancements include development/improvement of walking and biking trails, installation of wildlife viewing decks, park amenities, and signage, and construction of raised board deck in wet riparian areas to mitigate visitor impacts.

###

ABOUT THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
The mission of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is to sustain, enhance, protect, and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices. For more information, please visit www.gadnr.org.

ABOUT THE GEORGIA OUTDOOR STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM
The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act (GOSA) was approved by the Georgia General Assembly in 2018 and later overwhelming approved by Georgia voters with 83% support. This is the state’s first dedicated funding mechanism to support parks and trails as well as protect and acquire lands critical to wildlife, clean water, and outdoor recreation across the state of Georgia. Since the program’s establishment in 2019, GOSA has allocated over $97 million of funding to 50 conservation and outdoor recreation projects across Georgia. Grantees have committed more than $175 million to match these grant funds, for a total investment of almost $300 million.

For more information, contact
Taylor Brown Fisher, Chief of Grants – 404-463-8601 – Taylor.Brown@dnr.ga.gov

Leave a Comment