On Wednesday morning we heard a presentation concerning the One Hundred Miles, the extent of Georgia's unique coast.  Megan Desrosiers is the Executive Director of One Hundred Miles, a non-profit coastal advocacy organization with the mission of preserving, protecting, and enhancing this precious salt marsh.  Even though the coast of Georgia is only 100 miles long, it comprises 30% of the remaining salt marsh coastline in the US.  Megan showed us, and told us, of the efforts that are on-going to look after it.

A map of this coastline showed us the areas which are now legally protected.  These include most of the barrier islands (islands which front on to the sea,) land along the Altamaha and Satilla rivers,and other stretches of coastline from South Carolina to Florida. So why are we anxious about our coast?  Many Georgians, especially those living inland, are unaware of the coastline and its issues.  The marshlands provide home for varied wildlife, for people to hike and boat and look at, for barriers to storms and tidal surge; to appreciate them fully, it is necessary to get out there and experience them. Megan showed us maps of the population changes over a period of twenty-seven years from 1974-1991, and projections for 2050.  We are growing, and worse yet, spreading out, and this spread is consuming land.  As we seek places to live, the views and beauty of the coast attracts would-be residents (and therefore builders) who are putting pressure on the marshland and efforts to protect it.  The six coastal counties are key; they are, from north to south, Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn, and Camden.

 

To date many efforts have already been made.  The Shoreline and Marshlands Acts passed in 1970 were very controversial (and revolutionary) at the time, but there was enough public awareness of the problem for this action to be taken. But pressure is increasing with the increase in population and there is a need to educate the residents of the state about the value of the coast. The One Hundred Miles organization has a regional vision for the future: to target key conservation and planning throughout the coastal counties so that they act together, and to include the counties immediately west of them which are, Effingham, Long, Wayne, Brantley, and Camden. There has long been a provision that a 25 foot barrier must exist between the waterline and any building, a provision that has recently been under legal question and may be reinstated or reaffirmed by the current legislature.  The actions being taken by the One Hundred Miles organization include public education, liaison with coastal associations and legislators, lobbying to maintain pressure on the statehouse, and presentations such as this one to interested groups in the community.  Megan ended with a plea to us: "Please get involved.  You are a part of the solution.  We all are."

 
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