protecting our coast

Georgia DNR letter of acknowlegementImagine going into the barbershop for a trim and coming out with a shaved head and a couple of missing ears. That’s about what happened to the storied Marshes of Glynn along the Jekyll Island Causeway. The barber of Jekyll Island, with an assist from the Georgia Department of Do Not Respect, has taken his shears to the Causeway to “trim” the place up.

A letter from one Karl Burgess, in the Coastal Resources Division, acknowledged the trimming plan, but apparently failed to mention that the assistants he was going to provide were novices at their jobs.

On the other hand, the effort to maximize “the natural and aesthetic value of an artificial landscape,” as the Jekyll Island Authority’s conservation manager explained, was likely flawed from the get-go. After all, though the Georgia legislature re-instated a protective buffer requirement to insure that the natural vegetation is not disturbed along our marshes and shores, the word that their area of jurisdiction had moved apparently didn’t trickle down to the Coastal Resources Division. Or, maybe the bureaucrats still don’t know what jurisdiction (the law says) means.






In any event, the placement of the pink-ribboned bamboo stakes in the marsh as a guide to the “trimmers” provides clear evidence of either intentional carelessness or gross incompetence. How else to explain a bundle of un-used stakes left like litter in the marsh? Maybe the “assistants” suddenly realized they were doing it wrong or their shoes were sinking in the mud? Because, instead of moving from protected plant to protected plant, as this little schematic directs, , they got lost and ended up as much as nine feet off the high marsh edge.

CrabMaybe it’s just too complicated for biologists to keep track of both plants and critters. Granted, before the mowers passed to obliterate the detritus, the fiddler crab burrows, to which the critters retreat when the tide comes in, were hard to see. Now they’ll be spotted by predators with ease.

If that fiddler crab looks irate, it’s probably because he really doesn’t want to be disturbed–not by chain saws or mowers or wood chippers. If he could, he’d tell the barber to take his clippers and go home. “Leave our natural habitat alone.”





Images: thanks to James Holland Photography.

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."