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Keeping Georgia's coastal marshlands intact: The CMPA

Few people who live or visit here would deny that Georgia enjoys beautiful landscapes throughout the state. When it comes to protecting that beauty, local governments, real estate developers and others must adhere to federal and state regulations when it comes to the development and use of certain lands.

For instance, Georgia's marshlands contain delicate ecosystems that could easily be disrupted or destroyed without protection. Those ecosystems benefit the land, animals and humans. In an effort to halt, or at least slow, their destruction, the state legislature passed the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act back in the 1970s.

What does the CMPA say?

The first thing the act does is make a distinction between the terms marsh and land. The act prohibits use and development of the marshes by not defining the marshes as land. The CMPA controls the structures and activities allowed in marshes and estuaries. This allows people to enjoy the areas while preserving them as well.

The brackish marsh and salts cannot go through any alterations without a permit, which you would obtain from the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee. The definition of alterations includes the following:

  • Draining a marsh or estuary
  • Dredging a marsh or estuary
  • Filling a marsh or estuary

Other potential alterations may require defining and consideration by the committee, which would more than likely be included in any needs assessment done as part of an application for a permit.

Exemptions to the permit requirement

The act does outline some exceptions to the permit requirement. They are as follows:

  • Department of Transportation public road activities
  • Contiguous land owners wishing to build docks on pilings
  • Public utility company activities
  • Railroad construction and repair
  • Pipeline transport of sewage and water
  • U.S. agencies responsible for keeping waterways navigable and open

In some cases, the committee may need to interpret an organization or individual's actions to determine whether it falls into one of these categories.

Legal assistance with CMPA matters

Whether you need a permit or find yourself accused of violating the CMPA, it may benefit you to consult with an environmental attorney before taking any action. A legal advocate could help make the process of obtaining a permit go more smoothly. If you face accusations in connection with the act, you may benefit from knowledgeable advice and assistance to resolve the matter quickly, efficiently and in the best way possible.

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