Becoming one with nature will cost in 2012

January 19, 2012 by  

Certain visitors to 32 wildlife areas managed by the Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) are going to need to purchase Georgia Outdoor Recreational Passes (GORP) starting in 2012. Specifically, visitors between the ages of 16 to 64 will need to procure such passes. Minors aged 15 and under in addition to individuals with hunting licenses, fishing licenses and sportsmen licenses are exempt.

The WRD maintains over 100 parks and forests, but only one-third of the properties managed require such passes. After an in depth environmental impact study, personnel from the division identified the 32 parks chosen as areas frequented and damaged the most by visitors.

Prior to the institution of the GORP requirement, hunters and anglers provided funding for the upkeep of fishing, wildlife and natural areas through the licensing fees and excise taxes they paid. Economic strife and reduced maintenance fund budgets have forced the decision to seek contributions from other users like hikers, birdwatchers, bikers and horseback riders. Revenue generated from the passes will be used to improve roads and trails, construct parking lots and build facilities like bathrooms and lodging stations.

People interested in visiting any of the 32 locations requiring GORP passes must purchase licenses in advance. Unlike Georgia State Parks, which are small enough to have entrances and are staffed with agents that collect admission fees, WRD lands are vast in size and have multiple entry points that render the use of gate rangers inefficient. Passes can be obtained by calling the WRD office, navigating to the GORP website or visiting a licensed retailer.

Many of the affected parks are located near Savannah. Brochure printers in the area can help the WRD raise awareness about the new GORP requirements through the publication of informative pamphlets.