Amended buffer bill restores critical protection for Georgia coast

Georgia is home to nearly one third of the remaining salt marsh on the Atlantic Seaboard – more than any other state. (© Craig Tanner)

After months of negotiating with lawmakers at the Georgia Capitol, SELC and our partners have been successful in restoring the 25-foot protective buffer along Georgia’s coastal marshes, and in closing large loopholes in the bill that would have left the coast at risk.

The buffer, a strip of trees and plants along a stream or wetland, acts as a natural filter by preventing sediment and other pollutants from entering rivers, streams, wetlands and marshes.

Now on the way to the Governor’s desk for signature into law, the final bill includes an amendment that requires projects permitted by the Corps of Engineers to undergo individual review. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has also made a promise to prevent property owners from constructing make-shift bulkheads and seawalls along the marsh without reviewing those projects to assess impacts to the buffer.     

Since the Georgia Environmental Protection Division stripped the salt marsh of the buffer in April 2014, SELC and our partners have been working toward a legislative fix to restore protection for the marsh.

Reinstating the 25-foot buffer is critical to preserving these important ecosystems from pollutant-contaminated runoff from roofs, yards, driveways, and roads, which can harm and even destroy large sections of marshlands.

Read more coverage of the amended buffer bill.

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