Defending the Georgia coast

Preserving one of the nation’s ecological gems

Admired for its stunning beauty and rich biological diversity, the Georgia coast encompasses a lacework of barrier islands, mud flats, tidal creeks, blackwater rivers, freshwater wetlands, and 378,000 acres of salt marsh. More than 1,650 islands called “marsh hammocks” provide a secluded inland sanctuary for wildlife, and are sheltered by 14 barrier islands rimmed with more than 100 miles of white sandy beaches.

With 378,000 acres, Georgia harbors one-third of the salt marsh remaining on the East Coast, most of which is held by the state as a public resource with incredible value. These vast expanses of grasses and meandering tidal creeks serve as nurseries for marine life and as vital buffers against storms.

The ocean waters off the Georgia coast are prime calving grounds for the North Atlantic right whale—one of the rarest marine mammals on the planet and one of several endangered and threatened species that make their home in this region, along with manatees, wood storks, and sea turtles.

What’s at stake

Though it remains one of the last stretches of undeveloped coastline in the Southeast, this special region faces a perfect storm of ongoing development pressures, under-enforcement of environmental protections, and the federal government’s proposal to open its waters to offshore drilling for the first time ever.

We and our partners work to enact more stringent safeguards for Georgia’s coastal waterways, including buffer protections for marshlands, freshwater wetlands, and all other state waters not currently protected.

We will continue to build more awareness and celebration of our coastal resources, to embolden citizen participation in community conservation, and to encourage state leaders to take action to ensure that the coast is protected for present and future generations.

Georgia’s coast must continue to be a safe place for both our ships and our wildlife. We are committed to ensuring that our harbors are responsibly maintained and that our beloved wildlife, like loggerhead sea turtles and North Atlantic right whales, are protected.

Megan Desrosiers, president and CEO of One Hundred Miles

Threats to Georgia’s coastal treasures  

Alongside local partners, federal and state agencies, and private property owners, we advocate against poorly sited projects and loopholes favoring development interests in efforts to preserve the ecological and natural integrity of Georgia’s coastline and iconic barrier islands.

We push back against proposals that pose serious risks to coastal resources, surrounding communities, tourism and other local economies—including a commercial spaceport in Camden County to launch rockets over residential areas and the Cumberland Island National Seashore. In May, we filed a complaint challenging the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to issue an operating license for the risky plan.

As one of the latest emerging threats to the Georgia coast’s natural treasures, Alabama-based mining company Twin Pines is proposing a heavy mineral sand strip mine on the doorstep of the Okefenokee Swamp, one of the largest and most celebrated wetlands in the country and home to both a National Wildlife Refuge and a National Wilderness Area.

The proposed mine would be 50 feet deep on average and would destroy hundreds of acres of wetlands that are critical to the Okefenokee’s diverse ecosystem, threatening the hydrology of the swamp. We are staunchly opposed to any mining activities at this site and will continue working to protect the integrity of the swamp, especially now that the Okefenokee is under consideration for UNESCO World Heritage status and an immersive educational center.

Our coastal protection work also includes challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ unlawful attempts to eliminate highly successful seasonal limitations on dredging projects that have protected sea turtles and other marine life for decades.

Additional resources