Environmental Protection

A new ruling in the Georgia Court of Appeals states that all waters are to be protected by 25-foot vegetative buffers under Georgia law.

All Waters in Georgia Protected by Buffers

A new ruling in the Georgia Court of Appeals states that all waters are to be protected by 25-foot vegetative buffers under Georgia law.

Conservation groups and the Georgia Court of Appeals have overruled the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s policy that only some of the state’s waterways are protected. In the decision, all waters in Georgia will now be protected by vegetative buffers. According to the article buffers are “a strip of trees and plants along a stream or wetland that naturally filters out dirt and pollution from rain water runoff before it enters rivers, streams, wetlands, and marshes.” 

“In its decision, the Court holds that the General Assembly always intended that the buffer provision would extend to and protect all state waters,” said Bill Sapp with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “As a result, under the ruling, EPD will no longer be able to take a piecemeal approach to buffer protection—requiring a buffer on some waters and denying it on others.”

“Our marshes and freshwater wetlands are home to the shrimp, oysters, fish, and game that fuel Georgia’s hunting, fishing, and tourism industries,” Sapp continued. “As the Court recognizes, the buffer provision plays a critical role in protecting these vital resources.”

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