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State Facts

Miles of Coast: 2,344

Coastal Population (2000): 630,681

Lead Coastal Management Agency: Department of Natural Resources

Approval Date: 1998

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Ocean and Coastal Management in Georgia

Georgia's Coastal Program

The Georgia Coastal Program was approved by NOAA in 1998. The Georgia Coastal Management Act authorized the creation of the Georgia Coastal Program and Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division serves as the lead agency.

The Coastal Program was built on existing state resource laws and established a network among state agencies to improve coastal resource management. The Georgia coastal zone includes the state’s six coastal counties and five “inland tier” counties which include Chatham, Effingham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Long, Glynn, Wayne, Brantley, Camden and Charlton counties.

Sapelo Island

The marshes of Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve provide food and nesting habitat for a variety of birds, mammals, and reptiles and are also the nursery ground for many economically important fish and shellfish.

Georgia's Coastal Program offers technical assistance to local governments, property owners, developers and the public on a variety of coastal issues. The goal is to minimize environmental impacts and to clarify regulatory requirements. Georgia's Coastal Program is responsible for executing leases for state owned water bottoms, issues marsh permits for activities below the ordinary high water mark, and issues shore permits for activities impacting the sand-sharing system. The Coastal Ark, a mobile training and education platform that travels throughout the state providing technical assistance and educational materials to local governments, students, and the general public is also sponsored by the Coastal Program.

Georgia’s National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve, a 6,110-acre natural area, is located seven and half miles northeast of Darien on the fourth largest of Georgia’s barrier islands. The Reserve was designated in 1976 and is made up of salt marshes, maritime forests and beach dune areas. The island has been inhabited for over 4,000 years and has a rich archeological and cultural history.

The Reserve offers a variety of education programs for the public, special interest groups, school groups, teachers and coastal decision makers. Educational programs highlight salt marsh and barrier island ecology, current research efforts on the Reserve and Sapelo Island's cultural history. The Reserve also focuses on habitat restoration projects, oyster reef ecological studies and invasive species monitoring.

Program Achievements

Georgia Green Infrastructure Workshop

Green Growth Guidelines


Georgia Coastal Program — The website provides information on the Program’s activities including technical assistance for local governments, permitting and education.

Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve — The Reserve’s website provides information on their research, education and stewardship activities.

Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology — This program brief describes investments in technology development and research projects for the state of Georgia.

Marine Protected Areas — Search for marine protected areas in Georgia.

Georgia Coastal Nonpoint Program Conditional Approval Document — The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program encourages coordination between state coastal zone managers and water quality experts to reduce polluted runoff in the coastal zone.

Georgia Coastal Program Evaluation (2012) — NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve Evaluation (2009)— NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of estuarine research reserves.

Georgia Coastal Zone Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy (2011-2016) — Every five years, the Coastal Zone Management Act encourages states and territories to conduct self-evaluations of their coastal management programs to assess significant changes in the state’s coastal resources and management practices, identify critical needs, and prioritize areas for enhancement under the Coastal Zone Enhancement Program.

Contact Information for Georgia’s Programs

Georgia Coastal Program
Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources
One Conservation Way, Suite 300
Brunswick, GA 31520
(912) 264-7218

Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve
PO Box 15
Sapelo Island, GA 31327
(912) 485-2251