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- Altamaha Riverkeeper
- Canoochee Riverkeeper
- Center for a Sustainable Coast
- Clean Coast
- Coastal Georgia Audubon Society (St. Simons)
- Georgia Conservancy: Coastal Office
- Georgia DNR Coastal Resources Division
- Georgia Historical Society
- Georgia Sierra Club: Coastal Group
- Georgia Sierra Club: Southeast Georgia Conservation Group
- Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
- Leconte-Woodmanston Foundation
- Mulberry Grove Foundation, Inc
- Oatland Island Foundation
- Ogeechee Audubon Society
- Ossabaw Island Foundation
- Satilla Riverkeeper
- Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
- Savannah Ogeechee Canal Society
- Savannah Recycles
- Savannah River Archaeological Research Program
- Savannah Riverkeeper
- Savannah Tree Foundation
- Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
- Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
- Tybee Island Marine Science Center
- Wild Garden Project
- Wilderness-Southeast
For more information about the CGEP, go to Partners or contact us.
  Coastal Issues  

Savannah Harbor
[Posted Dec 2] Last year South Carolina's Supreme Court threw out Jasper County's challenge to condemn 1,776 acres of Georgia- owned land in South Carolina, deciding that it would violate the spirit of South Carolina's law to let South Carolina take a private landowner's land and give it to SSA, another private entity. The land currently is used by Georgia's Department of Transportation to dispose of dredge spoils from the maintenance of the Savannah River navigation channel.

This is where you have to give the devil his due. Jasper County fired their lead legal counsel on the failed bid for condemnation and replaced it with a Columbia law firm acclaimed as "experts in condemnation law." Jasper County fired their county administrator who was quickly hired by SSA as a port consultant. And, most ambitiously, Jasper County formed their own 7-member port authority to help masquerade as a public/private partnership, hoping to circumvent the state's condemnation law and obtain a favorable court ruling.

But, regardless of what you call it, the proposed Jasper port would still primarily benefit Seattle-based SSA which could offer sweatheart deals to its many world-wide customers and pull unnecessary shipping traffic through the Savannah River. Negative environmental impacts would be wetlands loss because of the need to replace the dredge spoil acreage, water pollution from the ships and the landside operations, and air pollution from the dirty bunker fuel the containerships burn. Also included would be almost all of the many dozens of impacts already identified for the Savannah River harbor deepening project.

Attracting unnecessary ship traffic to the Savannah River would pose a very serious danger to the already highly endangered Atlantic right whale since collisions with ships is a well known cause of death to right whales. Mandatory Ship Reporting (MSR) is considered the current chief measure for reducing the right whale ship strike threat. MSR requires that large ships report to shore when they enter critical right whale habitat. But, off the coast of Georgia and Florida, compliance has been poor, with only 50% compliance in 2003 and a 63% average from January through April.

It might be tempting to look leniently on the proposed Jasper port because the site is closer to the Atlantic Ocean and Utopian-like speculation might induce one to believe that a Jasper port would prevent the proposed harbor deepening project for which an Environmental Impact Statement is currently being prepared. That could be true. But, the best way to find out is through the EIS process which must consider alternatives to the proposed deepening project, including the Jasper site. Any support for a proposed Jasper port at this time could easily leave the environment with the devil....and his due. [Author: Judy Jennings, Coastal Group, Sierra Club]

Savannah River Deepening
[Posted Dec 2] In August of this year, EPA published its Draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Dissolved Oxygen (DO) in Savannah Harbor which spans from Fort Pulaski (River Mile 0) to the Seaboard Coastline Railway Bridge (River Mile 27.4). The watershed is defined as extending from Thurmond Dam near Augusta to the Savannah Harbor.

A TMDL establishes the maximum amount of a pollutant a waterbody can assimilate without exceeding the applicable water quality standard, which in the Savannah Harbor is coastal fishing aquatic life use.

EPA established this TMDL to satisfy a consent decree obligation established between the Sierra Club and EPA. In the Draft's Executive Summary, EPA states that it "would not have chosen to propose this TMDL at this time due to concerns surrounding the existing site-specific DO criterion for the Harbor."

The Summary further states that to attain the recommended criterion would require an approximate 30% reduction in the total load of oxygen demanding substances currently being directly discharged to the harbor or to the upstream watershed from Thurmond Dam downstream.

Even though EPA did propose recommended DO criterion that seems less protective than the state of Georgia's standards, the prospect of a 30% reduction in discharges spun river polluters into a finger-pointing, blame-avoiding frenzy. Dischargers have stated that the real problem in the river is the dredging to maintain harbor depth. River users point out that the channel depth is a federal project which benefits all of Georgia. And, believe it or not, they are all talking about systems that would blow bubbles in the Savannah River to supplement the dissolved oxygen which their activities deplete and which aquatic life must have to survive.

These paragraphs summarize the 57 page EPA document. [Author: Judy Jennings, Coastal Group Sierra Club]

[Posted Nov 1] The deepening of the Savannah River from 42' to 48' for the ship channel to the Georgia Ports Authority, west of Savannah, is presently on hold, following $4,000,000 worth of state and federal environmental impact studies, scientific monitoring, and one model, all of which produced more questions than answers. Our primary concern is the impact on the Floridan Aquifer and the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. The model received strenuous negative objections from all of the natural resources agencies. Work will proceed utilizing one or more additional models.

Mulberry Grove Plantation
[Posted Dec 2] There are times in environmental advocacy when a change in direction is necessary. Such is the case with Coastal Group's efforts to promote a full-scale landswap to protect the environmentally sensitive and culturally significant lands of Mulberry Grove Plantation and neighboring historic plantation properties. Due to competing demands and limited funds, a dollar-for-dollar landswap between US Fish and Wildlife Service and Mulberry Grove's owner Georgia Ports Authority no longer seems possible. Some development on the properties, including some in private hands other than GPA, now seems inevitable. However, Coastal Group remains a committed partner with other environmental and historic preservation organizations to preserve as much land as possible. Also, we will work in every way possible to ensure that all development is environmentally sensitive using appropriate site planning and state of the art technology to eliminate or contain sources of non-point source pollution, reduce air pollution, preserve habitat value in developed areas, and preserve and enhance cultural sites and artifacts.

[Posted Nov 1] The Mulberry Plantation land swap proposal between the Georgia Ports Authority and Fish and Wildlife Service continues toward an acceptable agreement between both parties. The objectives of environmental and preservation organizations are maintaining the present natural wetlands and forest as an intact ecosystem, as well as the heritage of the land.

Bi-State Mobility Authority
[Posted Nov 1] A very persistent group of elected officials from Chatham and Effingham Counties in Georgia and Beaufort and Jasper Counties in South Carolina is currently attempting to push through the instant creation of brand-new taxing government body called the Bi-State Mobility Authority. As proposed, this mobility authority could acquire broad powers over land, air, rail, and public transportation facilities in the four county, two state region divided by the Savannah River. The proposed authority would have power of eminent domain and many other government related controls. Unless and until the group engages the public in true regional transportation planning and in the identification and approval of projects that serve valid public needs, environmentalists will oppose the creation of such a powerful new Authority.



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