The State Properties Commission on Monday unanimously approved spending $28.7 million in taxpayer money on 10,015 acres of Oaky Woods wilderness in Middle Georgia.
The panel’s vote follows last week’s 11-6 decision by the Georgia Natural Resources Board to buy the land from Oaky Woods Properties LLC.
Some Natural Resources Board members said the price is too high at $2,874 per acre. In comparison, Oaky Woods Properties bought it for $1,600 an acre.
Proponents, however, say the state needs to protect the tract from developers. It is home to black bears, endangered plant species and unique prairies and the land is popular among campers, fishermen and bird watchers.
Oaky Woods Properties had planned to develop the tract with shops, offices and up to 35,000 homes before the real estate market plummeted.
“Since 2003, the state has conserved over 200,000 acres through purchases, donations and easements,” Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue, said in a prepared statement after the Natural Resources Board’s vote Wednesday. “The conservation of Oaky Woods is a terrific addition to the state’s portfolio.”