If not for our natural resources, we would be Iran or Detroit
by Dick Yarbrough
Columnist
March 20, 2013 12:00 AM | 718 views | 2 2 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
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It is a theological fact that God really likes Georgia. That is why He put mountains in north Georgia and the Golden Isles smack up against the Atlantic Ocean, and added a bunch of lakes and parks and historical sites in between. Otherwise, we could have been Iran. Or Detroit.

I stopped by last week to visit the man who is entrusted with these assets, Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources Mark Williams, to get an update. We didn’t talk religion, but I suspect his views on what God did for Georgia pretty much line up with mine.

A former state legislator from Jesup, Williams says, “I have my dream job.” He has also the qualifications, having served on the committees overseeing our state’s natural resources in the General Assembly before assuming his current post. He has to love his job to leave the friendly confines of Wayne County and spend so much time away from his family. I asked him why he does it. The commissioner says, “I love this state and I want to leave it better that I found it.” Now, that will preach.

Not only is Georgia blessed with splendid natural resources, those resources are big business. Ecotourism — a term new to me — includes boating, kayaking, bird watching, camping, hunting, fishing and the like and brings in nearly $7 billion to the state annually. Fishing is almost $2 billion of that; hunting, $1 billion.

Our 48 state parks and 15 historic sites generate about 10 million visitors a year and a half-billion dollars. Salt water fisheries bring another half-billion to the state’s economy.

As for protecting those resources, I asked Williams about a piece of legislation, HB 42 that has had a number of people along the coast, including me, concerned. The legislation would allow certain construction inside the current boundaries established by Shore Protection and Coastal Marshlands Protection Acts with a Letter of Permission to be issued by the DNR.

Williams says the bill has been amended to allow temporary activities within the jurisdiction area — such as shooting movies — and for no more than six months. After that time, the area is to be returned to as good or better condition than when the permit was issued. Activities within the physical parameters of an existing structure can be built with only a Letter of Permission.

If the Legislature and the DNR plans to amend the Coastal Marshland Protection and Shore Protection acts next session, as I am told they may, they are going to need to do a better job of telling us what they plan to do and why. The coastline belongs to all of us.

Another bill, SB 136, which has sailed through the Legislature, concerns boating safety and is long overdue. The measure will require more stringent boater education and brings Boating Under the Influence and Hunting Under the Influence more in line with Driving Under the Influence and with more severe penalties. Too many lives have been lost because of ignorant yahoos who should never have been operating a boat in the first place.

I asked the commissioner what he would like to say to you about Georgia’s natural beauty. He says, “I would ask them to please help us with the stewardship of our resources.” He is right as rain. Preserving our abundant resources and passing them along for future generations to enjoy is as much our responsibility as it is the 1600 employees of DNR. The state belongs to us all. Enjoy what we have. Keep it clean. Respect the environment.

As for me, Williams wanted to be sure I knew of the success of the “Go Fish Center” in Perry, which has been one of my favorite targets since it was birthed — or was it “hatched?” — by former Gov. George E. Perdue. He says the facility which is operated by his department has had more than 40,000 visitors from around the country since it opened in late 2010 and more than 6,000 children and adults have participated in education programs there. I said I would tell you that. (He plans to let Gov. Perdue know that I did. My job can be very difficult, at times.)

My talk with Williams was a good one and convinced me more than ever how blessed we are to live in Georgia with such glorious natural resources. Could you imagine having this conversation in Iran? Or Detroit? Thank you, Lord.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.

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Grandma Jan
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March 24, 2013


On my last day of a 10 day visit with my grandsons, I picked up the Cherokee Tribune, only to be assaulted with an insult on the front page. "If not for our natural resources, we would be Iran or Detroit".

This couldn't be a serious editorial, could it? I turned to page 4A..only to read in utter disust the article by Dick Yarbrough. Am I to surmise by the first paragraph that God doesn't like Detroit? A "theological fact" ? Where exactly does Mr. Yarbrough attain these theological facts??? Was this somewhere in the bible? I don't remember Detroit ever being mentioned in the bible. Georgia is a STATE...Detroit is a CITY...IRAN is a country. If you want to compare states, have you ever discovered the beauty of Michigan? We have the second highest number of registered boats in the nation. We border 4 of the five Great Lakes. We kayak, bird-watch and hunt deer, bear, turkey, elk, pheasant & duck, (just to name a few). Our lakes are so jammed with fish, that our bass tournaments are heavily populated with many fishermen from Georgia and Tennessee. Michigan has an abundance of natural resources Mr. Yarbrough. ECOTOURISM IS NOT A NEW TERM IN MICHIGAN. We are cognizant of our responsibility to be stewards of these resources, perserving them for future generations.

I believe that the intent of your article was well meaning. Georgia is a gorgeous state, and every effort should be made to secure it's natural resources. But if you would like to promote ECOTOURISM, you might stop short of INSULTING the people who are the "tourists".
Johnoipolokos
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March 20, 2013
Dear sir,

I beg of you to do some research before writing anything and posting it on the internet. Please take a look at the Iranian geography, it's natural beauty and resource endowment. Iran is surrounded by mountains and much greenery including natural lakes and waterfalls. If you took the time to research your facts you would have seen this. Instead you have chosen to use an imagined perception of the country to make a point which doesn't further your arguments in the article anyway. If you do not like my comment, you can choose to censure it but I beg of you please take more care when referring to something that is foreign to you as to not mislead yoru readers.

thank you and best regards
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