Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Increased Coast Care Sought DNR Taking Coastal Management Ideas

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Increased Coast Care Sought DNR Taking Coastal Management Ideas

Article excerpt

BRUNSWICK -- Environmentalists told the state Department of

Natural Resources that its newest version of a proposed federal

coastal zone management program does not do enough to protect

the environment.

The program should be strengthened, Metter lawyer Ogden Doremus

said, to filter the people moving into Georgia "so they don't

destroy the very thing that attracts them."

And people are coming to Georgia. Coastal population is already

growing at 20 percent per decade and some expect that to

escalate.

The DNR scheduled two hearings -- one was held Wednesday night,

the final one is Wednesday in Richmond Hill -- to get public

comment on the proposal before presenting it to a joint

House-Senate study committee later this month.

Sometime within the next few weeks, if Texas gets approval for

its proposal, Georgia will become the only state bordering salt

water that does not have a coastal management program. The DNR

is hopeful of getting a plan approved by the Georgia General

Assembly in its 1997 session so a year of federal

review and public hearings can begin.

The plan was headed toward approval last year until state

Attorney General Michael Bowers said it first had to clear some

legislative hurdles. Some feared the plan was dead for good, but

DNR Commissioner Lonice Barrett, who attended Wednesday's

hearing, and staff members along the coast revived it.

The plan would encompass 11 counties: Charlton, Camden,

Brantley, Glynn, Wayne, McIntosh, Long, Liberty, Chatham,

Effingham and Bryan. Those counties either border the ocean or

have rivers that are affected by the tides.

A LOT AT STAKE

As a participant, Georgia would get roughly $1.5 million in

federal funds to run the program its first year. It would also

require the federal government abide by state laws and would put

Georgia on equal footing with Florida and South Carolina, both

of which have programs.

The program would also streamline the permitting process for

developers while requiring no new state laws.

It is the latter provision that gives some people pause.

Sierra Club lobbyist Neill Herring said the DNR is emphasizing

"what the plan is not and all the things it doesn't do."

Much of that is to assuage fears of developers and foresters

who don't want more regulations or more stringent enforcement of

existing laws.

Herring said the Georgia Department of Transportation will

continue to be exempt from erosion and sedimentation rules as

will airport authorities. …

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