Promoting the Wise Use of Coastal Resources
Georgia’s coastal zone is rapidly growing in population, development and industry. Between 2000 and 2030, state projections anticipate a coastal population rise of 50 percent. However, even with this potential coastal growth, the less than one third of Georgians live within 50 miles of the coast, an unusual characteristic for a coastal state. The bulk of the state’s population lives in the Piedmont region and is far removed from coastal issues.
In recent years, development in Atlanta and the upland regions has begun to compete with coastal needs for the most fundamental natural resource – water. Water withdrawn from the state’s rivers to satisfy the needs of upland growth increasingly threatens the health of coastal marshes and estuaries. Due to the remoteness of the coast from the state’s population centers, Georgia Sea Grant works to engage and inform the entire state’s citizens, including decision makers in Atlanta, the state’s capital, about coastal issues. At the same time, the program helps the coast prepare for rapid population growth, as well the emerging issue of sea level rise. For these reasons, land-use change, water supply, sustainable growth and adaptation to climate change have become major focus areas for the program.