Protecting Georgia’s Coastal Marshes – A Legislative Success Story

JeffJones-GAOfficialHeadshot2015Trans.pngBy Representative Jeff Jones

One year-ago  – Earth Day, April 22, 2014 – the Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Department of Natural Resources, announced that the State of Georgia would no longer enforce a long-standing provision requiring a 25-foot marsh protection buffer. (View EPD Director Jud Turner’s letter) The marsh buffer stipulation, which appears in the Erosion and Sedimentation Act, requires marsh front developments - whether large or small, commercial or residential - to observe a 25-foot buffer. The buffer’s purpose is to protect salt marshes from upland soil erosion, and runoff from construction and from commercial or residential marsh-side developments.

As a resident of coastal Georgia serving my first term in the Georgia House of Representatives, I was extremely concerned about the prospect that our coastal marshes were unprotected by a buffer and the possibility that our environmentally and economically important marsh buffers would continue unprotected.

Throughout the end of 2014, I continued to read, listen and learn more about coastal marsh protection issues. In the process, coastal residents and legislators voiced strong concerns and objections to EPD's decision to cease enforcement of the buffer provision. The EPD Director justified the decision to stop buffer enforcement because he said that language in the Erosion and Sedimentation Act was confusing, EPD's enforcement was inconsistent across the state and that the 2004 letter from ex-EPD Director Carol Couch, which had been acceptable for over 10 years was not enforceable as law (View Carol Couch’s 2004 memorandum). For example, for more than a decade, the agency had been enforcing the buffer on coastal salt marsh, but not on freshwater wetlands, which have their own, separate complexities, issues and challenges.  Upon reading the language in the Erosion and Sedimentation Act, I began to better understand the confusion about the Act's applicability to coastal salt marsh and became convinced that we needed a legislative remedy.

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In The News: Coastal lawmaker tries to salvage marsh protections

Salvage.jpgThis siting of this jellyfish processing factory on the Sapelo River in 2014 shows the changes that could come if loopholes aren't closed in the current marsh buffer bill, environmentalists say. Photocourtesy Megan Desrosiers/ One Hundred Miles.

By Mary Landers

Worried that the current marsh buffer bill is too weak, Rep. Jeff Jones of Brunswick is gathering support for a substitute that would close its major loopholes.

On Friday, Jones emailed his fellow state representatives with his substitute for S.B. 101, the buffer bill introduced by Savannah Republican state Sen. Ben Watson.

“Many of us believe that S.B. 101, as presented, has too many broad exceptions and significantly hampers the Environmental Protection Division of the DNR’s ability to effectively and properly manage and protect Georgia’s coastal marshes,” Jones wrote to house members. “I’ve been working with (Rules Committee) Chairman (John) Meadows, other representatives and members of the environmental community, to craft a substitute bill that tightens up the broad exception language in the original S.B. 101 and effectively returns control and oversight of handling marsh buffer exceptions to the EPD.”

Coastal lawmaker tries to salvage marsh protections

Posted: March 21, 2015 - 11:22pm  |  Updated: March 23, 2015 - 8:39am

http://savannahnow.com/news/2015-03-21/coastal-lawmaker-tries-salvage-marsh-protections

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Day 25: Invitation Resolution, College of Coastal Georgia Day at the Capitol

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(Pictured: The student delegation from College of Coastal Georgia, Rep. Alex Atwood, Rep. Jeff Jones, Rep. Joe Wilkinson, Dr. Gregory Aloia, President College of Coastal Georgia, and Speaker David Ralston)

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Day 33: Maya Van Wagenen, Award-Winning Teen Author honored in the GA House

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(Pictured: Teen Author Maya Van Wagenen, and Representative Jeff Jones)

Learn more about Maya Van Wagenen (Visit Website)

In The News: Who's 'Popular' now? Teen's memoir leads to movie deal (USA Today)

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Rep. Jones Appreciates Your Support

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Representative Jeff Jones, recognizes the Saint Simons Christian School

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Rep. Jeff Jones Recognizes the Long County Delegation [Video]

Representative Jeff Jones in a morning order before an open session of the Georgia State House, recognizes the Long County Delegation on February 9, 2015.

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Golden Isles Board of Realtors visits the state capitol

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February 10, 2015 Pictured: Golden Isles Board of Realtors and Rep. Jeff Jones.

"It is great to receive words of support and encouragement from my friends, neighbors and supporters in Glynn County and the Golden Isles.  I appreciate seeing the familiar faces and having the opportunity to talk with the representatives from the Golden Isles Board of Realtors about their support of (HB 219), the "swimming pool" bill I sponsored that clarifies which non-public pools come under the jurisdiction of local boards of health. " - Representative Jeff Jones

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Tiny Town, Rep. Jones retells the Prodigal Son Parable

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February 8, 2015 - Pictured: Rep. Jeff Jones reenacts the story of the Prodigal Son, also known as the Parable of the Lost Son for children and their parents at St. Simons Community Church.

The public is welcome and encouraged to bring their children, the second Sunday of each month. Please also feel free to RSVP via the events' calendar.

Scripture Reference:
Luke 15:11-32

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Youth Championship Equine Day at the State Capitol

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Pictured with Representative Jones are; Amalia Hanly, Brooklyn Kapella, Madison Barlowe, and Myah Paige. Also attending the event: Ansley Simpson, Brooke Zell, Haley Wayne, and Skylar Moreles. Congratulations to all!

Representative Jeff Jones, Proudly Co-Sponsors HR-122 Recognizing February 3, 2015, as Youth Equine Championship Day at the Georgia State Capitol.

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