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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Jeff Foxworthy protects 1,000 of his acres against future development

Jeff Foxworthy wants to ensure his grandkids can enjoy unspoiled land on his property in Harris County. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Jeff Foxworthy wants to ensure his grandkids can enjoy unspoiled land on his property in Harris County. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Alpharetta comic legend Jeff Foxworthy has granted a conservation easement on 1,000 acres of his Georgia farm to the Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust, guaranteeing that property will never be used for future development.

“As someone who grew up in Atlanta and watched it explode, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if this could be here forever and nobody could develop it? ‘ ” said Foxworthy in a phone interview today from the property, which is based in Harris County between LaGrange and Columbus, about 100 miles south of downtown Atlanta. “It’s my escape. It’s my farm. I can drive through the gate and not have to be Jeff Foxworthy. Just Jeff.”

The land, which Foxworthy purchased in 2003, was being eyed as a possible golf course, he said. It was originally part of Cason Callaway’s 40,000-acre Blue Springs Farm, which was established as an agricultural experiment in the 1940s to promote better farm practices. The easement allows Foxworthy to maintain private property rights and the ability to live on the land. He also receives a tax break.

Originally, Foxworthy said, he purchased his entire 3,000-acre property as an investment. But he certainly doesn’t need the money or has any desire to sell the land before he dies. In fact, he hopes as he gets older to spend more time there.

He received advice about such conservation easements from local environmentalist Chuck Leavell, a former member of the Allman Brothers, a keyboardist who has toured with the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton and founder of environmental news service Mother Nature Network.

“Jeff Foxworthy is not only a great talent, he is a great outdoorsman and environmentalist,” Leavell wrote in an email. “He has really stepped up to the plate with this conservation easement, and it shows he is serious about being a good steward of his land. He stands as a model for others, and I admire his willingness to make this bold move. Jeff, you ROCK!”

The Land Trust Alliance, an umbrella group representing 1,700 land trusts across the nation, recently did a census and said the total number of acres conserved by land trusts reached the 47 million mark, a 27 percent increase between 2005 and 2010.

“I’m in a position to do it so why not?” Foxworthy said. “It’s a beautiful place. I wanted a place for my grandkids to see that is unspoiled.”

He enjoys the pristine rolling hills, the gentle creeks, the wild dogwoods and azaleas and oodles of wild deer and turkey that cross his property. He built a horse-shoe lake that has attracted several bald eagles to his home.

“The first time I saw one,” he said, “I thought, ‘That is not a buzzard!’ ”

He said he recently caught a bass in his lake with puncture wounds. “That bald eagle tried to pick it off,” he said. “It was like a scene from National Geographic!”

When Foxworthy met with Howard Hollis “Bo” Callaway, part of the famous Callaway family, Bo showed him a 5,000-year-old bowl that had been found on Foxworthy’s property years before he purchased it. That’s how far back humans have been roaming that land.

At age 53, with more than a quarter century of stand-up and TV success, Foxworthy has reached an age where he is starting to look toward his legacy. “What am I leaving the next generation and the one after that?” he said. “I’ve been lucky in a profession where I’ve gotten to do everything I’ve ever wanted.”

Foxworthy now has the luxury to be picky about his project. He is still tickled pink by the success of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” which he hosted on Fox and in syndication until it was cancelled last year.

He said he is pondering other TV projects. “People call me wanting to do shows,” he said. “Most are stupid. So I’m holding out.” He is intrigued by a possible talk show but isn’t keen on the amount of time a daily show would eat up. (In comparison, he shot an entire season of  “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” in a mere five and a half weeks.)

Foxworthy also recently participated in a video for the upcoming 30th anniversary of The Punchline Comedy Club. He started his comedy career there in 1984. There is video of his very early performance days. “That was when I had a mullet and hadn’t even told a single redneck joke yet,” he said.

Foxworthy is amazed he got to the level of success he did so quickly, going from amateur night to headliner in 18 months in the mid-1980s. “Ignorance was bliss,” he said. “I had no idea. I knew nothing about the business when I quit IBM. It was crazy with 6,000 people trying to become comics at the same time.”

So 2012 will involve a few comedy dates with fellow Blue Collar Comedy tour mates Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall, he said, and if a TV project happens, it happens. He also has a new outdoor product line called Foxworthy Outdoors, including RVs and bug spray.

“I’ve got to do something,” he said, “or I’d drive my wife crazy!”

Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

61 comments Add your comment

Rickster

January 9th, 2012
5:02 pm

Good for Jeff.

Rod

January 9th, 2012
5:05 pm

Holden Magroyne

January 9th, 2012
5:06 pm

He is neighbors with Phil Terrana (Steve McCoy) in Country Club of the South. Did you get any gossip from Jeff on where Steve err Phil is going?

Ueeediot

January 9th, 2012
5:36 pm

“…Bo showed him a 5,000-year-old bowl that had been found on Foxworthy’s property years before he purchased it. That’s how far back humans have been roaming that land.”

All lies. Everyone knows the Earth is only 5,000 years old and North America wasnt discovered until just over 600 years ago…

Ryan Klesko

January 9th, 2012
5:40 pm

Great guy and will always be an answer to where he went to college: Ga Tech… yep, the Redneck from Tech….

Mountain Girl

January 9th, 2012
6:03 pm

Good for him!! Not every inch of land in Georgia has to be developed or used for profit. As a mountain dweller from birth, I can attest to the fact that “progress” is not always a good thing. I live across the road from the Chattahoochee River in a tiny little mountain town and it is the most peaceful place on the face of the earth. There is no place on earth that I would rather live. Some folks cast aspersions on those of us who decry “progress” for progress’ sake or for profit, but it takes away from the beauty and peacefulness of undeveloped areas and the peace and quiet of those who like to live in said areas. I’m glad to see Jeff Foxworthy is not one of those people who only see dollar signs. Mountain folks are well-known for not liking too much change because we see no need to change, and we don’t take kindly to other people coming in and trying to make us change. We’d just as soon not, in many cases. It’s not ignorance or anything like that — we just tend to value things a bit differently sometimes, and we like things the way they are and there’s no need to mess with something that’s worked for us for so long. “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.” I’d rather live quietly in my little mountain town where the deer and other critters can still roam around and I can see them now and then than have someone come in and develop my area to the point where all the animals run off and all there is are cars, parking lots, and businesses everywhere. Dr. Seuss made this very point in his book “The Lorax.”

And as a Dawg girl, I don’t hold it against Jeff one bit that he went to Tech. We can’t all be perfect, after all, LOL!

Z

January 9th, 2012
6:08 pm

Awesome Mr. Foxworthy, Mother Nature will thank you for saving some of her precious resources and all the critters thank you as well.

logical1

January 9th, 2012
6:11 pm

Jeff is a class act. He did a show in the mid 90’s at a hotel I worked at and when I went to escort him to the ballroom his show was in, I asked him if he wanted to go through the back of the hotel to avoid all of the people. He said “I’m here because of those people so we’ll go through the main part of the hotel.” He genuinely enjoyed meeting and talking with his fans on the way to his show.

Reese from Dade

January 9th, 2012
6:21 pm

Atta Boy Jeff – good on you!!

TheBigCat

January 9th, 2012
6:25 pm

Most counties give you a property tax break for doing this. Thats all this is. You can always reverese it and go back to the higher tax rate if you want to build on the property or if you want to sell it to somebody that does.

Fidlin1

January 9th, 2012
6:27 pm

Thanks Jeff, I always knew you were smarter than a fifth grader.

Me

January 9th, 2012
6:29 pm

What that other guy said…this is nothing but a tax move. You can grant an easement and still do things like harvest timber from property. Big whoop. The area in Harris Co is rural, there was no way it was going to be developed. He purchased it to build a subdivision and the market tanked…

…former neighbor. But still, good for him I guess.

JTesla

January 9th, 2012
6:40 pm

“You can always reverese it”

Only with persmission from the Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust.

As for the tax move… better to convey it and not have to cover any taxes for it. By granting an easement he is still liable for the taxes even if they are discounted. Many areas offer discounts for farm, forest, or other exceptions, this would be no different.

Old Dawg

January 9th, 2012
7:24 pm

Thanks, Jeff. Georgians will always appreciate your generous gift.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

January 9th, 2012
7:25 pm

What kind of anti-capitalist idiot would be against someone getting a tax break for putting land in a desired restrictive trust. Anything worth doing, is worth doing for money. Pretty neat that Foxworthy has been doing standup since the year I was born, or 1 Anno Trishini to the great unwashed.

oldfart

January 9th, 2012
8:15 pm

Uh, as most of us oldfarts know Chuck Leavell has toured with the Stones enough that it is a shame he has never been made an official member of the band and yes he has also toured with Clapton. But prior to this he not only toured but was a prominent member of a little southern rock band known as the Allman Brothers.

Cujo Bendi

January 9th, 2012
8:27 pm

Way to go Jeff! Georgia is such a sprawling ugly mess in so many places. Good to know there will never be highways and strip malls in at least one section of countryside.

Jim Tavegia

January 9th, 2012
8:30 pm

Can you image him and Tim Allen together? He needs to “guest” on Last Man Standing. That would be so beyond funny.

Meeks

January 9th, 2012
8:52 pm

Way to go Jeff, keeping the land in a natural state for GOD’s creatures to roam around in.

Nutmeg

January 9th, 2012
8:59 pm

Nice. I’m not a fan of redneck humor, but I do like Foxworthy. One of the funniest things I’ve seen was when he did the Larry the Cable Guy roast… and by the time he got up there to do his set, the evening had gotten *really* dirty. Foxworthy was bright red–I mean BRIGHT red–and he started by giving a shout out to his Sunday School class. I could totally relate.

Awesome. Good to hear this about him.

Nutmeg

January 9th, 2012
9:00 pm

Oh, and good interview, Rodney.

Ronzul

January 9th, 2012
9:29 pm

Def check out Mike Speenberg if you’re a fan of comedy. Speenberg is based out of Atlanta and The Punchline is Speenbergs home club. He’ll make you laugh until you cry and take you on a trip down memory lane. Mike’s toured all over the world so the word is starting to spread about his comedy…… So def check him out so you can say you saw him back in the day. Speenberg is the best comic going right now that’s not a household name yet……… YET!! PIZZA AND CANNED CORN??!

Fishawk

January 9th, 2012
9:32 pm

Good show, Jeff. Well done!

Pago Flyer

January 9th, 2012
10:18 pm

We’re sure other big time tv folks like “poop dog”, eddie murphy etc., have done the same….right.

Tech Grad

January 9th, 2012
10:21 pm

Now that is a GT grad.

HRPufnstuf

January 9th, 2012
10:30 pm

I’m still mad at him for allowing Redneck Foods (BBQ chain, and line of BBQ sauces) go under. Left me with several hundred worthless shares of stock.

Vampire Bill

January 9th, 2012
10:41 pm

Way to go Jeff, Your smarter than just about everyone.

llallen1113

January 9th, 2012
10:45 pm

Jeff is awesome. He needs his own super PAC.

Owner of a lonely fart

January 9th, 2012
10:46 pm

Jeff Foxworthy: a “comedian”

3d

January 9th, 2012
10:59 pm

When I think of Chuck Leavell, I think of the Allman Brothers Band.

Wonder if Rodney Ho is even aware that he was in the band after Duane and Berry were killed?

Rick James

January 9th, 2012
11:33 pm

Great guy..An asset to the state of Georgia.

Mr. Rhetorical

January 9th, 2012
11:47 pm

How much land has Cedric the Entertainer preserved for future generations?

Mr. Rhetorical

January 9th, 2012
11:49 pm

“Entertainer?”

AS IF!

Cumming Man

January 9th, 2012
11:57 pm

Most of the people making these comments don’t know a thing about Conservation Easements. Jeff just took a huge tax right off and still keeps the property for himself. It does not allow the public access to his still private property. The good thing for the eviroment; it keeps the property from being developed in perpetuity!

HAHA

January 10th, 2012
5:46 am

Mr. Rhetorical and Pago Flyer, this is a story about a deed that Jeff did for this his and our future generations. It’s has nothing to do with anyone else and what they have or may not do. You all need to stick with the matter at hand and stop trying to make this into something else. Way to go Jeff.

itsme

January 10th, 2012
6:00 am

Thank you, Jeff!

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Really, Cumming Man?

January 10th, 2012
7:39 am

Tax RIGHT Off?

REALLY?

Roekest

January 10th, 2012
8:06 am

Sweet! Now we know where to go once the zombies rise

Mitzymy

January 10th, 2012
8:23 am

I grew up in a rural area of Arkansas, and couldn’t wait to get to the city. There was no peace in the city and I longed to get back to the country after 20 years in Chicago. We raised the children in a small town in Indiana and lived only 2 blocks from the city limits and the country. It was so refreshing to get home from work everyday, and take a much needed ride out to the country, breathing fresh air, watching the animals and fishing. For whatever reason Jeff did this, I applaud him.

george

January 10th, 2012
8:26 am

i love how a buckhead raised, georgia tech educated son of a successful att executive has been so successful with his “redneck” shtick. great gesture to preserve the land for future generations.

SugarHillDawg

January 10th, 2012
8:37 am

He’s not real Tech guy. A real Tech guy either moves back home to China or joins Al Qaeda.

jon doeringer

January 10th, 2012
9:03 am

Jeff is a class guy. He was developing a TV show ~8 years ago. He had seen some of my son’s work somewhere, and wanted him as a writer. The project fell through, as most of them do, yet he took the time to thank my son and say he hoped they could work together in the future.
OK – it was just an email. But more than he had to do to buoy up an unknown’s self esteem.

Silver Creek Dawg

January 10th, 2012
9:09 am

I have a conservation easement on my property in Floyd County and it is not revocable for 10 years. After 10 years, I can either renew it for 10 more (and take the tax break) or I can let it go and develop it.

According to the state of Georgia, anyone who owns more than 10 acres (I have about 18 acres) is eligible to put their land in a conservation easement.

malleesmom

January 10th, 2012
9:37 am

good for Jeff.

Ryan

January 10th, 2012
9:59 am

Um, Chuck Leavell has been a MEMBER of the Rolling Stones since 1982, I do believe. He picks the setlists every night, so I’m told.

HCCynic

January 10th, 2012
10:21 am

Thanks, Jeff, for your generosity. Here’s to a more beautiful Georgia!

@ Mountain Girl, I love the way you think, and I appreciate the words of wisdom you shared above (”Not every inch of land in Georgia has to be developed or used for profit”).

My Dear, if my wife would not take exception to it, I would hug your neck. There are not a whole lot of us left who think we should protect the pristine mountains, rolling plains, and scenic coastal areas. I am glad to see someone of Jeff’s stature take such a positive and public step in protecting the land from the ravages of greedy, politically connected, developers and their minions.

TallaDawg

January 10th, 2012
10:37 am

BigCat 2 6:25 pm on January 9 – If you break the easement then you have to pay ALL of the (back)taxes that would have been owed during the entire pendency of the conservation easement. (Not just pick up paying the future taxes owed) Also, if it was done through some form of irrevocable trust it is almost impossible to violate for a very long time.

TallaDawg

January 10th, 2012
10:40 am

HCCynic – There are more of us that agree with you and Mountain Girl than most people believe, but many people do not listen to the logic of legacy. Nature is theraputic and can teach us so much, but most are too busy chasing the illusory dollar to notice. As Zac Brown says “There’s no dollar sign on a piece of mind. This I’ve come to know.”

TallaDawg

January 10th, 2012
10:41 am

*peace* of mind

- sorry