Center Comments on Proposed DNR Marsh Rules, January 9, 2007

David Kyler, Executive Director
Center for a Sustainable Coast
Saint Simons Island, Georgia

1. The proposed rules weaken current legal interpretation of the Marsh Act by attempting to circumvent and contradict the findings in case law decisions issued over the past several years by three different judges. This is being done by proposing to constrain complete review of the entire project, which would otherwise provide the basis to ensure that the marsh is protected from all possible adverse impacts of the activities involved.

2. It is premature and inappropriate for the Board to advance rules for interpreting the Marsh Act while the DNR has itself filed an appeal that will result in a decision that will undoubtedly set a new legal precedent for making such an interpretation. This creates confusion among the affected public and wastes staff time for what will be, in effect, a provisional and temporary set of rules that will have to be revised, publicly reviewed and then reissued after the final appeal ruling is made.

3. Language such as 'to the extent practicable' provides ambiguous escape clauses throughout these proposed rules that are likely to serve as loopholes that will weaken enforcement of the Marsh Act. There's too much language in these rules that creates an impression of good intentions while providing no reliable means to ensure that the marsh will be consistently protected through their implementation. As a result, interpretation of the Act remains highly subject to legal disputes, and confusion is not reduced for either the applicant or those representing the public interest.

Copies of these proposed rules are available by mail and can be reviewed on the CRD website: Please call DNR at 912-264-7218 to request copies by mail.
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