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Conserving forests in Northeast Georgia just got a little easier, farm bill proponents say

The U.S. Congress last week passed a bipartisan $867 billion farm bill that includes the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest Land Adjustment Act, which lawmakers said will expand recreation in Northeast Georgia through “modified land exchanges.”

The act allows the U.S. Forest Service to sell isolated parcels within the two national forests.

The Chattahoochee National Forest comprises 750,145 acres across Northeast Georgia, with large swaths in Rabun County.

The proceeds from the sale of 30 identified parcels totaling 3,841 acres would be used to purchase additional forest service land from private landowners within the forest’s boundaries.

Conservationists applauded the passage of the act.

“The money generated from the sales of these small areas of land will be put towards buying more critical lands for conservation and recreation, a result that benefits all Georgians,” Deron Davis, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Georgia, said in a statement.

According to The Conservation Fund, the act “will help to streamline land management, better protect key habitats, and enhance recreational access for hunting, fishing and hiking.”

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said the act will also update some park boundaries to improve recreational access and support its economic impact on the region.

“Northeast Georgians have always been thoughtful stewards of their beautiful landscape, and the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest Land Adjustment Act will expand their opportunities to hunt, fish, hike and care for local forests,” U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, said in a statement. “On behalf of the Georgians who spend their time and make their living using our state’s forests, I’m thankful that my friend David Perdue and I were able to bring these improvements to land management over the finish line.”