On Earth Day, the Director of the Environmental Resources Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources issued a stunning directive declaring that the marsh buffer—a 25-foot-wide no-build strip of upland to be kept in its natural state—will no longer be enforced under Georgia’s Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Act (1978). This disastrous reversal of policy has far-reaching implications for Georgia’s vast coastal marshlands, including the 1,700 acres of salt marsh that adjoin Jekyll Island’s back side.

As stated by David Kyler, Executive Director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, “Removal of the buffer will instantly create more developable area on Georgia’s coast. For instance, a 10,000 square-foot lot with a marsh boundary of 100 feet would gain 2500 square-feet of buildable area….Multiply this windfall of buildable land-area across hundreds of parcels along Georgia’s marshes, and speculative land-deal profits quickly ensue.”

If the EPD directive holds, the critically important filtering function served by the buffer will be lost, allowing pollutants from roads and developed property to flow directly into the marsh, and damaging the nursery for young fish, crustaceans and shellfish vital to the coast’s seafood industry and recreational fishing.

For details on the EPD’s decision and public reaction to it, go to…..

Memorandum from Judson Turner, Director of EPD  (April 22,2014).
The memorandum essentially eliminates marsh buffers in Georgia

Press Release - Center for a Sustainable Coast on the Turner Memorandum
(April 23, 2014)

Savannah Morning News, Editorial: Coastal counties must do the EPD's job
(April 29, 2014)

Connect Savannah, Editorial by David Kyler, Executive Director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast: More crimes and misdeamonrs? Or just routine incompetence?
(May 6, 2014)

Coastal Advisory Council Takes a Stand on Turner Memorandum -  Press Release by Center for a Sustaiable Coast (May 7, 2014)

Coastal Advisory Council Letter to DNR Board (May 23, 2014)

North side of Jekyll causeway: Marsh buffer clear cut
South side of Jekyll causeway: Marsh buffer intact
Close up of marsh buffer clear cut
Marsh buffers are essential to the health of Georgia's marshes.
Photos courtesy of James Holland