This serves as notification from the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources of a request from Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Conservation Section for a Coastal Marshlands Protection Act (CMPA) permit under Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) 12-5-280 et seq., to create nesting platforms within the State’s CMPA Jurisdictional area at two locations in Camden County, Georgia. The two projects total less than 1/10 of an acre and are considered a minor alteration of coastal marshlands under O.C.G.A. 12-5-280 et. seq.
The applicant proposes to enhance six (6) existing shell rakes on two (2) marsh islands in Camden County, GA. The shell rakes are historical nesting sites for the American Oystercatcher (AMOY), a listed species in Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). Approximately 40% of Georgia’s AMOY breeding population (48 breeding pairs out of 120 breeding pairs) currently nest on shell rakes within the State’s estuarine area. More than a decade of field research has documented the deterioration of available shell rake nesting habitat (loss of area and elevation) due to storm events, as well as extreme tidal amplitude, that results in the inundation of otherwise suitable nesting habitat on the coast. In an effort to better understand the correlation between nest loss and tidal flooding, wildlife biologists documented average site elevation at thirty (30) active shell rake nest sites on the Georgia coast during the 2019 AMOY nesting season. Data collected from successful shell rake nest sites (30 fledged AMOY chicks) supports a target elevation between 5ft. – 7ft. NAVD88 for the proposed nest platforms.
The proposed project includes enhancement of existing shell rake habitat used by nesting AMOY at three (3) nest sites on Satilla Marsh Island and three (3) nest sites on Stafford Marsh Island. As recently as 2022, AMOY nested on Satilla Marsh Island, owned by the State of Georgia (two (2) confirmed nests / four (4) chicks fledged), and Stafford Marsh Island, owned by the National Park Service (six (6) confirmed nests / zero (0) chicks fledged). Average elevations of these existing AMOY nest sites are approximately 4.66ft. NAVD88 on Satilla Marsh Island and 3.96ft. NAVD88 on Stafford Marsh Island.
As proposed, each nesting site will be enhanced by installing a nesting platform constructed with four (4) twelve-inch poles held in place by duckbill anchors with stainless steel cables driven a minimum of 2ft. into the substrate. Each frame will have a geocell mat base that will support cured oyster shell with a proposed shell or limestone base (approximately 59 cubic yards). The elevation of each platform’s seaward berm will range from +6ft. - 7ft. NAVD88 and nesting area landward of the berm will be between +5ft. - 6ft. NAVD88. This design and elevation should provide nesting sites that will be at low risk of tidal inundation during the nesting season.
A barge and crane will be used to place the nesting platform materials at each marsh island location. Temporary impacts associated with the construction of the nesting platforms include the use of matting and construction equipment (small dozer or mini excavator) in CMPA jurisdiction. Minimal grading at each platform site may be done to eliminate vegetation, as needed. Handheld equipment will be used to anchor each platform on site. Equipment transported aboard the barge will be used to place shell within each secured frame. Each platform will be overtopped with cured oyster shell and hand raked to achieve final elevations. Monitoring and maintenance are proposed. Impacts for each platform total approximately 17.1ft. X 22ft. (377sq.ft.) with approximately 59cy of shell in coastal marshlands. Total impacts for the six (6) proposed nesting platforms total approximately 2,262sq.ft. (0.052 acres), with approximately 354cy of limestone and shell.
The applicant has stated that the project does not contain an upland component.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate that the project is not contrary to the public interest and that no feasible alternative sites exist. Impacts to coastal marshlands must be minimal in size. In passing upon the application for permit, the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee shall consider the public interest: (1) Whether or not unreasonably harmful obstruction to or alteration of the natural flow of navigational water within the affected area will arise as a result of the proposal; (2) Whether or not unreasonably harmful or increased erosion, shoaling of channels, or stagnant areas of water will be created; and (3) Whether or not the granting of a permit and the completion of the applicants proposal will unreasonably interfere with the conservation of fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs, clams, or other marine life, wildlife, or other resources, including but not limited to water and oxygen supply.
A detailed public notice with drawings has been distributed and is available by visiting the Department of Natural Resources website: CoastalGaDNR.org under “Public Notices.”
Please provide this office with substantive, site-specific comments as to why the proposed work should or should not proceed. Comments and questions concerning this proposed project should be submitted in writing and be submitted by the close of business on February 18, 2023 to Deb Barreiro, Department of Natural Resources, 185 Richard Davis Drive, Suite 104, Richmond Hill, Georgia 31324 or via email at email@example.com.
Click here for Project Description