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Local conversation group to protect sea turtles against dredging during nesting season

Local conversation group to protect sea turtles against dredging during nesting season

Posted on May 24, 2023

The United States Army Corps of Engineers has been ordered to conduct an environmental study to determine if dredging around this time of year is harmful to the sea turtle nesting season.

Since the 1990s dredging took place in Georgia’s coastal waters between December and March.

“Dredging is an important part of keeping our harbors safe; One Hundred Miles obviously understands the need for that,” said Catherine Ridley, One Hundred Miles & St. Simon Island Sea Turtle Project Coordinator.

In 2021, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to change the dredging window, allowing it in the spring and summer seasons.

A concern for the conservation group “One Hundred Miles.”

“Really dredging year, around including in the middle of sea turtle nesting season which is in full swing right now and that was something we were very concerned about at one hundred miles,” said Ridley.

One Hundred Miles then sued the army corps, first in 2021 and then again in December 2022, trying to stop the proposed project.

A U.S. district court judge ruled in favor of one hundred miles and ordered the Army Corps to conduct a full environmental study on the impacts of dredging during sea turtle nesting season.

Ridley says dredging is safer during winter months because there are fewer turtles in the water around that time.

“This is a relief. I think this action, if it hadn’t been successful if we hadn’t had this tremendous victory, we’d be in a situation where the turtles that are nesting in real time on the coast could come up on our beaches one night, lay their eggs and be killed in a dredge, chopped up in pieces the next day,” said Ridley.

Ridley says right now the army corps is in the process of conducting their study and has no timeline on when it will be complete. She added that the army corps has issued directions that until the study is final- dredging will be confined to the winter season.

We did reach out to the Savannah District of the Army Corps for their input on the study.

Their office was not available for an interview on Tuesday but we plan to speak with them later this week.


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