A convenient but critical way to support Georgia’s wildlife needs your help this tax season.
State income tax checkoff contributions to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund have declined in recent years. While not an all-time low, contributions for the most recent fiscal year fell another 20 percent, or nearly $60,000 from the previous year.
Yet, the checkoff is a key fundraiser for the Wildlife Conservation Fund. The fund is administered by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section and dedicated to the conservation of nongame and endangered animals and plants statewide.
The Nongame Conservation Section receives no state funding for its mission to conserve nongame wildlife. Nongame includes native Georgia animals not legally hunted, fished for or trapped, as well as native plants, from sea turtles to songbirds and pitcherplants.
Jon Ambrose, assistant chief of the Nongame Conservation Section, said the Wildlife Conservation Fund is also used to attract federal and private research and conservation funding to Georgia. By using the fund as match, DNR gained $1 for every 25 cents spent from the fund over the past two years. The Nongame Conservation Section has averaged about $1.5 million a year in federal State Wildlife Grants over the past decade, Ambrose said.
The checkoff “is critical in terms of providing the match we need to get this funding from other sources,” he said.
The Give Wildlife a Chance checkoff has been a success since its creation in 1989. Thanks to the generosity of Georgians, more than $6 million has been raised. Contributions played a part in many conservation achievements, varying from the restoration of bald eagle populations to land acquisitions such as the prized Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area near Bainbridge.
That success story can continue with the help of conservation-minded Georgians.
This year, even in the midst of a recession, citizens can reverse the decline in checkoff contributions by filling in any amount more than $1 on line 27 of the state’s long tax form (Form 500) or line 10 of the short form (Form 500EZ). Contributions can be deducted from refunds or added to payments.
For more information, go to www.georgiawildlife.com/node/338, or call Nongame Conservation Section offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218). State income tax forms are available online at https://etax.dor.ga.gov/.
The Nongame Conservation Section also benefits from sales of the bald eagle and ruby-throated hummingbird license plates, an annual fundraiser called Weekend for Wildlife, and donations. Details at www.georgiawildlife.com.
The Give Wildlife a Chance checkoff logo and wildlife photographs are available at www.flickr.com/wildliferesourcesdivision.