Memorializing an issue.
Dear Friends of SLEAT:
Today’s BN tells of the surreptitious submission of a bill to change how DNR “protects” the line where the ocean meets the shore. The perception of Mother Nature as the antagonist has not changed. However, the submission of legislation does provide an opportunity to revise both attitudes and regulations. The following is my partial first-take. My comments are in CAPS because social media does not accept variable fonts and I have posted these comments to FB.
* Dynamic dune field’ means those elements of the sand-sharing system including the dynamic area of beach and sand dunes, varying in height and width, but does not include stable sand dunes. FIRST OF ALL, DUNES, BEING MADE OF SAND, ARE INHERENTLY UNSTABLE. SO, THIS EXCLUSION MAKES NO SENSE. BUT, IF A SAND DUNE IS NOT CURRENTLY BEING ERODED BY WIND AND WATER, IT IS BECAUSE A PROTECTIVE COVER OF VEGETATION (VINES, TREES AND SHRUBS) IS HOLDING THE SAND IN PLACE. FAILING TO PROTECT THAT COVER IS A RECIPE FOR DESTRUCTION, AS WE HAVE SEEN ON THE SOUTH END OF SEA ISLAND, GEORGIA IN SPADES.
* The ocean boundary of the dynamic dune field extends to the ordinary high-water mark (WHICH IS EXCEEDED ON AT LEAST THREE DAYS EVERY MONTH) as determined by the department. GIVEN THAT THE DNR HAS NO RESOURCES TO DETERMINE OCEAN LEVELS AND ROUTINELY RELIES ON SURVEYORS EMPLOYED BY PRIVATE PARTIES TO PROVIDE SPECIOUS DOCUMENTATION, WHICH IS THEN ACCEPTED AS IF IT WERE AN OFFICIAL DETERMINATION, THIS PROVISION IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.
* The landward boundary of the dynamic dune field, as determined by the department, shall be either the first occurrence of a structure existing on July 1, 1979, as set forth in this part, or along a line that is:
* (A) Twenty-five feet landward of the landward toe of the most landward sand dunes; (B) Twenty-five feet landward of the crest of a serviceable shoreline stabilization activity AN ACTIVITY DOES NOT HAVE A CREST; or
* (C) In the absence of any such sand dunes or functional structure STRUCTURES ARE NEITHER FUNCTIONAL NOR ACTIVE associated with a shoreline stabilization activity, 25 feet landward of the ordinary high-water mark, THE PILES OF ROCK, FANCIFULLY REFERRED TO AS REVETMENTS, MAY BE INTENDED TO PREVENT THE SHORE FROM ERODING, BUT THE EVIDENCE TELLS US THAT WHEN THE SURF COLLIDES WITH HARD BODIES, IT ERODES THE SAND FROM OVER, UNDER AND AROUND THEM. or for property owned by the state, 100 feet landward of the ordinary high-water mark WHICH LOOKS LIKE AN EFFORT TO RELIEVE THE JEKYLL ISLAND AUTHORITY OF LIABILITY FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF BUILDING BUILT CLOSER THAN 100 FEET FROM THE HIGH WATER MARK In determining the line for the purposes of this paragraph, topography, dune stability, vegetation, lot configuration, existing structures, distance from the ordinary high-water mark, and other relevant information shall be taken into consideration in order to conserve the vital functions of the sand-sharing system. If a real estate appraiser certified pursuant to Chapter 39A of Title 43 determines that an existing structure, shoreline engineering activity, AN ACTIVITY IS NOT A THING TO BE DEFINED or other alteration which forms part of the landward boundary of the dynamic dune field has been more than 80 percent destroyed by storm driven water or erosion, the landward boundary of the dynamic dune field shall be determined as though such structure had not been in existence on July 1, 1979.
Sand dunes’ means mounds of sand within the sand-sharing system deposited along a coastline by wind, tidal, or wave action, or by beach nourishment or dune construction, which mounds are often covered with sparse, pioneer vegetation, such as, but not limited to, sea oats (Uniola paniculate), beach morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae), and large salt meadow cordgrass (Spartina patens), and are located landward of the ordinary high-water mark and may extend into the tree line.” THIS DEFINITION IS WISHFUL THINKING. A MOUND OF SAND LEFT BY A BULLDOZER IS NOT A DUNE. SAND DUNES ARE THE RESULT OF GRADUAL ACCRETIONS OF LAYERS OF SAND AND CLAY WHICH ARE, IT IS TRUE, SPARSELY VEGETATED AT FIRST. PLOPPING A FEW POTTED PLANTS ON A MOUND OF SAND DOES NOT A DUNE MAKE.
The ultimate problem, of course, is that DNR/CRD “jurisdiction” generally simply means they can demand a permit for a fee and make recommendations they do not enforce. When we consider that the State of Georgia is collecting lease revenue on the sand being pumped onto the state-owned Sea Island beaches and then being washed back into the ocean and that the mounds of rocks are entirely in public lands, there is absolutely no evidence that, with the exception of a few coins flowing into the public till, the public interest in the recreational, educational and preservational values of the near-shore area is being served. It is estimated that it takes two years for the benthic community to recover from being crushed and raked. So, since the machines have been mangling the wet zone almost every year, what we have there is a dead zone. Never mind the herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers contributed by our turf-fixated sometime residents.