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Disaster Relief Funding Improving Marshlands in Georgia

MAY 6, 2019 — On April 16-17, Sarah Latshaw, Southeast regional coordinator for the Marine Debris Program, and Raishan Peterson, grants management specialist with the NOAA Grants Management Division, visited the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR) office in Brunswick, Georgia.

Two people in hard hats and work gear in a marsh, one standing in the water below and the other standing on a boardwalk.
Zulu Marine (general contractor) working to remove several hundred feet of wooden dock debris from the marsh in Glynn County, Georgia. Image credit: NOAA.

In 2018, GA DNR was awarded $600,000 in disaster relief funding through a NOAA Marine Debris Program grant in order to support post-storm assessments, removal, and disposal of eligible marine debris from Hurricane Irma, which impacted more than 70 percent of Georgia’s coastline.

In partnership with local municipalities, GA DNR, which manages coastal marshlands and tidal waters, worked with local municipalities on cleanup efforts. GA DNR staff also conducted assessments using unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters to document numerous concentrations of marine debris in five of the six coastal counties. Due to lack of resources, much of the debris, such as vessels, construction materials, and floating docks made of concrete, foam, and PVC, remained submerged or lodged in coastal marshlands.

Sarah and Raishan met with project leads Buck Bennett, compliance and enforcement manager, and Lorene Reid, federal assistance coordinator, as well as representatives from the contracting company assisting with the removal operations. The group visited several sites where operations were completed or currently underway. GA DNR, working with a contractor, has removed more than eight million pounds of debris since October 2018. When the project ends, they estimate over 12 million pounds will be removed. This important work will allow the marshlands to regenerate vegetation critical for habitat and coastal protection.

For further information, contact Sarah.Latshaw@noaa.gov.

Return to OR&R Weekly Report.