ATLANTA-The Georgia Greenspace Commission approved the first wave of grants for funds in a $30 million program to set aside land for green space. Under the program led by Gov. Roy Barnes, local municipalities are encouraged to protect 20% of their land. The state’s 40 fastest growing and most populated counties can apply for the monies.

In the first awards, metro Atlanta’s Gwinnett County, in the northeast quadrant, and three cities within the county, Berkeley Lake, Sugar Hill and Suwanee, are four of the five recipients. Bibb County in central Georgia, about 80 miles southeast of Atlanta, is the fifth.

Applicants have until Nov. 30 to apply for this year’s grants. Several applications were denied as deficient, but they may be resubmitted. Fulton County, in which most of Atlanta is located, is joining with 10 of the cities to request $5.4 million. Barnes is expected to request another $30 million from the Legislature when it convenes in January.

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