Is the Lowndes County Commission a “Qualified Local Government”? Georgia state law says perennial river corridors shall be protected, all of the major rivers in Lowndes County (Alapaha, Withlacoochee, Little) qualify as perennial, and GA EPD rules say to be a “Qualified Local Government” a comprehensive plan including River Corridor Protection Plans with protection for a natural vegetative buffer area bordering each protected river is required.
GA DCA keeps a list of all the comprehensive plans in the state. Here’s Lowndes County’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The main document is the Community Agenda and here is the map. Hm, the map shows a light blue color for “Park/Recreation/Conservation” for parts of the Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers in Lowndes County, but not all. What about the rest of those rivers in the county?
What does the Community Agenda say? It doesn’t mention any River Corridor Protection Plans. However, it does say this:
2.4.1 Park/Recreation/Conservation Area
2) Interconnected network of greenspace/green infrastructure: Can be created utilizing public land, privately donated land, and existing river and stream corridors.
Well, that sounds good. Where would the money come from?
5) Acquisition of land: Potential park/recreation/conservation areas can be acquired through donations, SPLOST funds, grants or low-interest loans through programs such as the Georgia Land Conservation Program, or outright purchase.
Even better. Anything more specific? Here are some items for Lowndes County:
4.1) – Conserve Sensitive Areas (cont.)
4.2.1 – Update Greenspace Plan to include Green Infrastructure and Linear Greenspace Areas
Continue preparation and implementation of the Withlacoochee River Greenway Plan.
Adopt, implement, and update provisions of the Greenspace Initiative Plan to include land acquisition and resource enhancement/protection. $500,000 in Acquisition Funds Available General Fund and SPLOST
So according to its own Comprehensive Plan, Lowndes County has half a million dollars available for land acquisition and the like for a “Greenspace Intiative Plan” which it mentions immediately after a “Withlacoochee River Greenway Plan”.
Now this is the same county government that had to clarify how much proposed SPLOST VII money was intended for the Five Points library and how much for parks; the same county that closed the county waste collection sites without ever providing an accounting for how much and why they were allegedly losing money. But the county’s own Comprehensive Plan says
$500,000 in Acquisition Funds Available
So I’ve got an idea for Lowndes County to use that money for a River Corridor Protection Plan so it can be a “Qualified Local Government”. See next post.