WINDER - The Georgia park system is one of three finalists for the National Recreation and Park Association's "Gold Medal Excellence in Park and Recreation Management" award.
The state's 63 parks and historic sites are competing against park systems in Tennessee and Utah. The winner will be announced Sept. 26 at the association's 2007 congress in Indianapolis.
The systems were nominated for long-range planning, resource management, environmental stewardship, program and professional development, volunteerism and the ability to meet the needs of a diverse population.
Georgia's parks cover more than 84,000 acres of diverse natural areas, from canyons and mountains to natural springs and marshland.
Forest Service mulls annual ATV trail pass
GAINESVILLE - The U.S. Forest Service is considering offering an annual pass for use of the off-road trails in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.
The federal agency created the proposal because of high demand for the trails by ATV riders, motorcyclists and other off-road trail users. Currently riders must pay a $5 daily fee at seven of the forest's 13 off-highway vehicle trails.
The annual pass would cost $50 and would allow unlimited visits. It would go into effect in March 2008.
The forest service will accept public comments about the proposal until Aug. 10.
Deputies arrest 8 in string of break-ins
LEXINGTON - It has been a good month for burglary investigators in Oglethorpe County, where the sheriff's office has charged eight people in a recent string of break-ins.
Deputies arrested a Hull father and son and two other men who they said stole tools from an estate once owned by country singer Kenny Rogers.
Chief Deputy Jimmy Fulcher said the four took sanders, chain saws and other tools worth thousands of dollars from an outbuilding in May.
Athens-to-Charlotte flight plan approved
ATHENS - Gulfstream International could begin flying passengers in and out of Athens-Ben Epps Airport in October, taking over a federally subsidized air service that Air Midwest wants to drop.
The U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday approved Florida-based Gulfstream's bid to handle the passenger air service between Athens and Charlotte, N.C., contingent on Gulfstream obtaining a code-share agreement with US Airways in Charlotte.
The agreement would ensure that Gulfstream passengers could make connecting flights in Charlotte on US Airways.