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Yes. The ARTS Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan is being referenced and considered throughout the trail planning process in appropriate areas of the county. More information on the ARTS Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan can be found at the ARTS / Aiken County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan website. Overall, the ARTS Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan assists in the planning and programming of transportation projects to create an integrated bike and walk-friendly network in the region. It is a comprehensive plan that incorporates areas within Columbia County in addition to the metropolitan areas of Augusta-Richmond and Aiken Counties.
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The Columbia County Board of Commissioners established the Greenspace Advisory Board in 2001 to serve as a citizen advisory panel advising and promoting the adoption of policies which will have the effect of preserving at least 20 per cent of the land area of Columbia County as greenspace. It is comprised of seven citizens appointed by the Commissioners. As one of its functions, the board identifies and recommends parcels for greenspace acquisition by the County. These recommendations go to the Board of Commissioners, which makes the final determination for land purchases or policy initiatives (regulatory changes, for example).
It is not necessary that all land considered to be greenspace have public access. Land in its natural state may have community value by protecting water quality, historic or archaeological resources, or wildlife habitat, even if it is not available for public use. In certain sections of the Euchee Creek Greenway Trail, Columbia County may seek easements for purposes of establishing the public trail, which will be narrow, specific route easements or outright purchases which the County will negotiate.
The benefits of a conservation easement include:
The purpose of conservation easements include protecting natural, scenic, and open-space property; assuring availability of land for agricultural, forest, recreational, and open-space use; maintaining or enhancing air/water quality; and preserving historical, architectural, archeological, or cultural aspects of the property.
A conservation easement is characterized as a flexible means of permanently protecting land. It is a voluntary, binding legal agreement between a property owner and an easement holder. Lands can be bought and sold while in conservation easement, and the restrictions agreed upon are transferred along with ownership as well. The restrictions specified in a conservation easement are variable and can be negotiated between a property owner and the easement holder. Generally speaking, restrictions include, but are not limited to, future development of any kind, subdivision, mining, utilities, significant landscape changes, etc. The easement holder is considered responsible for ensuring the property owner is complying to all agreed upon restrictions. The Georgia Land Conservation Center serves to assist land owners in selecting the right organization to partner with for a conservation easement.
Greenways have the same natural qualities and characteristics as does greenspace. Greenways, however, have a linear character and typically serve as corridors along stream banks, rivers and other waterways.
The statue adopted during the 2000 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly defines greenspace as "permanently protected land and water, including agricultural and forestry land, that is in its undeveloped, natural state or that has been developed only to the extent consistent with, or is restored to be consistent with, one or more listed goals for natural resource protection or informal recreation"
The rules and regulations of the Georgia Greenspace Program denote nine specific goals for greenspace: