Jekyll Dredging May Lead to Marsh Rehab

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Ben Carswell

Posted March 21, 2019

While most of the sediment churned up in the Jekyll Creek dredging project will literally go down a hole — a naturally occurring one — north of the island, around 5,000 cubic yards of it is to be sprayed across the nearby marsh. Ben Carswell, conservation director for the Jekyll Island Authority, said it may be a way to keep the marsh healthy in the future.

“Thin-layer replacement has been demonstrated successfully in a couple other states — New Jersey and North Carolina — but in both cases, it was in response to a rapidly deteriorating marsh,” Carswell said Tuesday at the monthly JIA board meeting. “Traveled around other parts of the coastal Southeast and Northeast — salt marsh in a lot of places is not doing as well as it is here in Georgia. But, we’re starting to see some warning signs here.”

He said the time’s now to proactively pursue pilot projects like this that can be important tools at a later date. He also discussed the camera that’s out in the marsh for the dredging project and thin-layer replacement.

“You all know from the presentation last year this is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project — federal — they’re the lead, but there’s a lot of partnership involved, a lot of discussion and planning leading up to it,” Carswell said. “We’ve been one of those partners, and our piece of the partnership was, along with the Nature Conservancy, to purchase and install a 45-foot tower with a solar-power, web-linked, 16 megapixel camera on top of it that allows for a real-time view.”

There is a link to the camera view at coastalgadnr.org/JekyllCreek.

On the northeast side of the island, work continues on Phase 2 of the rock revetment project, with spot repair occurring between King Avenue and Oceanview Beach Park next week. After that, they’ll begin construction of the return structure on the north end of the project, which is to ensure waves don’t wrap around the structure and cause erosion.

The board also heard plans as they stand now for the hotel between the Days Inn and Hampton Inn, which is considered a “dual-branded” project by Marriott and LNW Hospitality. The building will essentially be half Courtyard and half Residence Inn, splitting 209 rooms and various amenities between the two.

With sea turtle nesting season always in mind, the JIA board is looking at revisions to the beach lighting ordinance with an eye to increasing compliance and defining nesting and non-nesting areas, which will assist in conservation efforts. Anyone who’s been on the southerly side of the island and away from the lights of the hotels can attest that after sundown, finding dune crossovers can be an almost literal shot in the dark. This revision would provide for single red lights of appropriate wavelength at these crossovers.

The board approved on second reading an ordinance that bans dockless scooters and bicycles from the island, which board members saw as a proactive measure to head off problems faced in other localities.

While the JIA board meeting was going on, the state Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee was discussing House Bill 445, which includes some significant revisions to the Shore Protection Act. David Kyler of the Center for a Sustainable Coast spoke to the board about the bill.

“That bill would create unprecedented exemptions to the Shore Protection Act, including exemptions for areas that are among the highest risk areas in Glynn County and on Georgia’s coast, which have been recognized as high-risk by the federal government, which denies the spit area of Sea Island any insurance whatsoever,” Kyler said. “That bill would reduce the protection of the sand-sharing system and at the same time put the public in harm’s way.”

The Senate committee approved the bill on a 4-3 vote, which now awaits action in the Senate Rules Committee.

Source: thebrunswicknews.com