Thomas County Struggling to Stay Green

Georgia is lacking green space. At least that's the opinion of a task force in Georgia that oversees land conservation. Officials in Thomas County agree, and are concerned the lack of green space may be negatively affecting the quality of life in southwest Georgia.

A Whataburger on a plot of land off Highway 19 North is among the latest of new development in Thomas County, and some say their glad to see the progress.

"It's good for Thomasville to get this big, because back in 85 it wasn't like this,” comments resident Calvin Lurry.

Thomas County’s chief appraiser says this rapid development may be taking away from the quality of life in south Georgia, and has contributed to the state lagging behind other southeastern states in public land ownership.

"We are just now getting to the point where we are beginning to look around us and realize that we have wonderful natural resource in these large open spaces,” Chief Appraiser Mark Strickland explains.

State conservation officials say the problem is finding the money to meet green space goals.Lawmakers cut the state's green space program in order to balance the 2005 budget.

Strickland says in the next 10 to 20 years green space may be obsolete and in order to preserve it something needs to be done now.

"Or we are going to lose the joy of being able to ride out into the country and see country land and forest land,” Strickland adds.

And now with this push by the state to encourage conservation, he hopes to see that natural beauty maintained for years to come.

There are state programs in place to limit the amount of development among them, one that offers incentives to taxpayers for not developing their property.

Officials say the programs have helped considerably.