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A Tribute to Chris Canalos

by Hans Neuhauser

Chris Canalos was a man of pixels and polygons. For close to thirty years, Chris was a specialist in Geographic Information Systems for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR). He also made this expertise available to the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission and to the Oconee River Land Trust, serving on their governing bodies for decades.

Chris’ service on the ORLT Board was characterized by his attention to the details of each conservation easement under consideration. Chris made sure that the boundaries were correct and that Special Natural Areas – where special habitat protection management would be required – were clearly identified.

In recent years, Chris was appointed Program Manager for the Georgia Conservation Tax Credit. The credit, created by the Georgia General Assembly (and recently reauthorized to 12/31/2026), offered financial incentives to landowners who donate their land or a conservation easement to a government entity, state agency or accredited land trust. Individual landowners can earn a tax credit on their state income tax of up to $250,000; corporations and partnerships can earn up to $500,000. Chris’s role was to insure that the landowner’s application for the tax credit met all the legislation’s convoluted requirements.

Chris had a special commitment for the protection of natural areas. One example among many was the granite outcrop habitat of Rock and Shoals located near Barnett Shoals Road in Athens. He helped negotiate the significant expansion of the natural area and served as GA DNR’s monitor of the conservation easement that was placed on the property to insure its permanent protection.

Chris was born 67 years ago in Ohio and moved to Georgia in 1977 to pursue an advanced degree from the University of Georgia. He and his wife, Rhonda, lived in Athens.

He was a talented musician, playing the guitar and singing. He loved good food; he was especially fond of capicola, a spicy Italian cold meat that had to be acquired at a farmers’ market in Atlanta.

He always had a smile on his face. He could be counted on for his friendship, his professionalism and his work for GA DNR, the Greenway Commission and the Oconee River Land Trust. Chris died of cancer on September 26, 2023. He is missed!

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