Water and Wetlands:Georgia has more than 1/3 of all remaining salt marsh on the East Coast. Help us protect it.
One Hundred Miles works to protect and preserve the integrity of fresh and saltwater ecosystems throughout coastal Georgia.
What’s at Stake
Coastal Georgia’s waters are teeming with life. On any given day at low tide, in any given stretch of our 378,000 acres of salt marsh, one can witness the land move as hundreds of thousands fiddler crabs flee to the safety of Spartina fields. Georgia’s freshwater wetlands provide refuge for mammals, fishes, and reptiles, while hosting ancient cypress bogs and endangered pitcher plant communities. And our alluvial rivers, some originating 350 miles away, pour forth water so rich in nutrients that coastal Georgia provides nursery grounds for more than 70% of the commercially-harvested fish and shellfish in Georgia and South Carolina.
The interface between fresh and saltwater systems and the transitions between land and water are critical elements of our dynamic and resilient coast. But man-made alterations to land and water, such as increasing withdrawals from freshwater streams and aquifers and impoundments on Georgia’s rivers, shift the balance of our coastal systems – increasing salinity of estuaries and depleting oxygen needed to sustain fish and crustaceans. Meanwhile, saltwater plumes are overpowering our freshwater as sea level continues to rise. These events threaten the health of our critical ecosystems.
What We’re Doing
Strong local ordinances and state laws, such as Georgia’s Coastal Marshlands Protection Act, Shore Protection Act, and the Erosion and Sedimentation Act, are among the most instrumental tools protecting the integrity of our coast’s rich water resources.
One Hundred Miles works with state and local legislators to preserve the integrity and intent of the laws that effectively protect our water and wetlands, and will work to expand their capacity when necessary. We strive to bring diverse groups of stakeholders to the conversation, helping to represent the interests of those not normally involved in conserving coastal water resources.
Waters of the United States – This year, the United States Environmental Protection Agency concluded a multi-year process to redefine the Act’s most important term: “Waters of the United States (WOTUS).” The “rule” that has been guiding compliance with the Act since 1986 has been hotly debated and challenged. The new rule, released in June, provides a strong definition of the waters and activities to which the Act should apply. Eleven states have challenged the new definition in federal court.
After much deliberation, One Hundred Miles has decided to become involved in the legal challenge. OHM is the only organization representing coastal Georgia in this challenge. We join partners at the national and state level in ensuring that the Clean Water Act remains one of the strongest tools our state and federal agencies have to protect Georgia’s 100-mile coast. Learn more about the legal challenge and OHM’s efforts to protect our coastal resources.
One Hundred Miles led a successful statewide campaign to protect our coastal salt marsh. In April 2014, the Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) repealed an important policy requiring a 25-foot buffer between salt marsh and development projects. One Hundred Miles immediately began negotiating between the members of our conservation community, leadership at the EPD and Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR), and state legislators.
We are proud to report that our work to restore the 25-foot salt marsh buffer has paid off! The Marsh Buffer Bill (SB101) received final passage by the Georgia Senate on March 27, 2015. Read more about our work to restore the buffer and the next chapter in our efforts.