Georgia DOT gives marsh back to Jekyll Island
Area was to replace wetland removed in deepening of Brunswick harbor.
By Walter C. Jones
June 16, 2011
ATLANTA — The State Transportation Board will vote today to return ownership of 60 acres on Jekyll Island to the agency that manages the island state park.
The Jekyll Island Authority had transferred ownership of the acreage in 2002 at the order of then-Gov. Sonny Perdue during the deepening of the Brunswick harbor.
The land was for so-called wetland mitigation, essentially a swap of one marsh for another.
The original plan for the deepening called for the area on the west side of Jekyll's southern end to be turned into a marsh to make up for a marsh the same size that was filled in at the harbor.
Federal environmental protection regulations require construction projects to replace all wetlands.
The Jekyll Island area is where excavations in the 1960s for a marina near the present water park were stymied because silt kept filling it, according to Eric Garvey, senior director of marketing for the authority.
The authority wasn't thrilled with the Department of Transportation's plan for the Jekyll Island area.
"We were concerned because the work was removing a considerable amount of soil by truck, and we were worried about our roads," Garvey said.
In the end, the DOT came up with another way to replace the wetland and didn't need any part of the island. So, for the last two years, the authority has been trying to get ownership back through an inter-agency transfer.
Wednesday, the Transportation Board's Administrative Committee approved the transfer and recommended the full board do the same. The only concern raised in the committee was that the transfer would lower the available acreage for wetland replacement for other projects.
"It's in the custody of DOT, but it's not part of the DOT mitigation bank," DOT General Counsel Matt Cline told the committee.
With it back under the control of the authority, pretty much nothing will happen to the land.
"There is no plan on our part to do anything with that area," Garvey said.