When you think of the U.S. coast, you may think of California or Florida, but Georgia has 100 miles of it. It includes 14 barrier islands, and only four of them are developed. Five rivers flow into the coast, creating rich estuaries and salt marshes. The region is teeming with wildlife like loggerhead sea turtles, dolphins, manatees and bald eagles all of which make their homes there. It’s also an amazing nursery for shrimp, crabs and other species of economic importance.
Coastal Georgia, however, is facing threats from rapid development endangering its unique ecosystems and wildlife habitats. For turtles, in particular, light pollution and ocean plastic are persistent challenges.
One Hundred Miles is a non-profit, coastal advocacy organization dedicated to guarding against these threats. The organization’s mission is to preserve, protect and enhance Georgia’s 100-mile coast.
Since its founding in 2013, the organization has advocated on behalf of the endangered loggerhead sea turtle population, which recently reached a milestone of 2,290 nests, up from just 358 in 2004. In addition, One Hundred Miles was a driving force in the re-instatement of a Georgia state law requiring a 25-foot buffer between salt marshes and development.
The Georgia coast is considered a national treasure that requires careful stewardship in order for it to continue to contribute to local economies and quality of life. Understanding the science of the coastal ecosystems is critical to the group, as well as collaboration among businesses, government agencies and citizens.
Georgia-Pacific is among the businesses that have partnered with One Hundred Miles to support their environmental preservation work. The Atlanta-based company has implemented habitat improvement and wildlife protection programs on its own properties including their Savannah River mill facility near the Georgia coast.
For One Hundred Miles, the vision is for a coastal Georgia that has thriving communities, protected landscapes and secure wildlife.
"What I hope to see is the Georgia coast has a clear identity; it has a thriving economy; its has a thriving natural environment, and all three of those are things that people continue to fight for," says Megan Desrosiers, executive director for One Hundred Miles.
To learn more about the organization, visit onehundredmiles.org.