News | April 22, 2015

One year later: SELC’s work to restore GA buffer proves successful

Georgia has come a long way in one year. Last year on Earth Day the state’s Environmental Protection Division announced it was stripping the coast of the 25-foot buffer designed to protect marshes from development and other impacts. Today, a bill to restore the stripped protections awaits the Governor’s signature.

The buffer bill is the result of tireless efforts by SELC and our partners. Once signed, Senate Bill 101 will re-establish basic protections for Georgia’s marshes, areas valued for providing a natural buffer against flooding and key habitat for many species essential to commercial and recreational fishing.

In addition to re-establishing the 25-foot buffer for all marshes, the bill also closes large loopholes that would have left the coast at risk. One loophole exempted numerous projects from environmental review but the bill now requires individual review of any project permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers.

As part of the negotiations, the Georgia EPD promised to prevent property owners from constructing makeshift bulkheads and seawalls along marshland without first reviewing the bulkheads’ impact on adjacent buffers. The agreement safeguards sensitive marshlands from excessive development pressure.

SELC eagerly anticipates Governor Deal’s signature on the bill and the re-establishment of critical marsh protections.