the upper altamaha initiative:
land prioritization for the oconee river land trust
Students: Lis Koehnemann, Marjorie Palmer, Ashley Rosen, and Drew Yonchak
In his report Motivating Private Landowner Conservation to Maximize Ecosystem Services, Dean Hardy identified key parcels with high ecosystem service levels vital to preservation efforts in Athens-Clarke County and surrounding counties. The Oconee River Land Trust ("ORLT") hopes to use this information to add to the preservation of high-value tracts through conservation easements. The success of this conservation project depends on a cohesive and prospectively focused community outreach and education mechanism. Our group will develop a strategy to target the land owners of the key parcels and assemble information useful to them as they consider granting the conservation easement. Primarily, federal and state tax incentives will be provided. Ultimately, these efforts hope to encourage landowners to grant conservation easements whcih will ensure the continued vitality of Athens-Clarke County and the surrounding ecosystem. A corollary to this project will be verifying information in the Land Trust Alliance's ("LTA") web-based clearinghouse of land conservation programs and incentives in southeastern states. In addition, we will create a list of projects for future environmental practicum students to complete for the LTA and ORLT, as well as outline ways for the River Basin Center and the LTA and ORLT to work together in the future.