Court allows continued use of flawed permit for long docks on Georgia coast

SELC recently argued against an exception in Georgia that allows docks exceeding the permitted maximum length, such as those shown above. (© Robert Llewellyn)

A federal court has upheld the use of a general permit for docks constructed on the Georgia coast, which includes a condition allowing docks to exceed the permit’s maximum walkway size by 25 percent if they are made with fiberglass or metal grated decking instead of wood.

SELC and our coastal partners challenged the Army Corps of Engineers' decision to include the permit condition, noting that the agency ignored a scientific study's finding that grated decking materials are just as damaging to marsh grasses as more traditional wooden materials.

Long docks have had a significant impact on the scenic marshlands up and down the Georgia coast. Private docks can exceed several football fields in length with no limit on how many docks can be constructed. 

Besides destroying many of the shoreline vistas, the docks shade marsh vegetation that would naturally receive full sun exposure, which can harm the marsh ecosystems and the species that depend on them.  

While SELC argued that the study invalidated the permit’s size exception, the court ruled that it would defer to the Corps and deemed the exception reasonable.

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