Altamaha Riverkeeper News

Court: Buffers not required for freshwater marshes

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled 6-1 that state law does not require a buffer against development around freshwater marshes, swamps and other bodies of water where the flow is not sufficient to wash away plants — so called “wrested vegetation.”

The ruling seemed to suggest that the Court felt it had no options given the Legislature’s failure to provide much definition for the establishment of buffers. The consequences for rivers and streams, however, could be profound.

“This poor decision will impact the Altamaha watershed from Atlanta and Athens through Macon and to the Atlantic,” said Jen Hilburn, head of the Altamaha Riverkeeper advocacy. “Whether urban or rural, the decision will negatively impact property owners along all waterways — maybe not at first as they build all the way to the river, or plant non-native vegetation that has not evolved with the river, and cannot support the flood cycles — but sooner or later land owners that are unwilling to leave a buffer will likely be forced to endure the consequences of not having a protected buffer.”

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There are so many ways that you can help keep our rivers clean and beautiful. Responding to Action Alerts or reaching out to your elected representatives. Find your way to get involved!