Sea Island Groin Proposal

Sea Island Groin Proposal Press Release and Comments


ATLANTA, GA - December 2, 2015 -- On behalf the Altamaha Riverkeeper, Center for a Sustainable Coast, and Surfrider Foundation, Georgia Chapter, GreenLaw has filed comments opposing Sea Island Acquisition's application under the Shore Protection Act to construct a 350-foot, six-foot high groin with a 120-foot-long T-head on the Sea Island Spit. The project would also include adding 120,000 cubic yards of sand and creation of a dune. The proposed groin would be constructed of rock at the southern end of Sea Island's Cloister Reserve on the Sea Island Spit.

The conservation groups submitted evidence from the Army Corps of Engineers, 26 coastal scientists, and reports from two coastal geology experts, Dr. Chester Jackson and Dr. Robert Young, showing that while groins cause a positive increase in beach width updrift of the groin, they produce erosion and a decrease in beach width on the downdrift side. These adverse effects have already resulted from the existing groins on Sea Island.

As noted by Dr. Jackson, the rate of erosion on the oceanside of the Spit dramatically increased by 3.5 times after Sea Island installed its current groin in 1990 to the tune of almost 250 feet. In just the past 10 years, the oceanside area immediately south of the existing groin has lost almost 100 feet or 10 feet/year. At current rates, the Spit will be gone in a couple of decades.

Additionally, as noted by Dr. Young, after growing for 130 years, the southern end of the Spit lost over 2,000 feet after the current groin on the Island was installed.

These dramatic losses could threaten East Beach on St. Simons Island and reverse accretion of sand that has occurred there over the past few years.

According to Jen Ililburn, Altamaha Riverkeeper, "The proposed groin would adversely affect the endangered Loggerhead sea turtle's nesting habitat as well as the endangered and threatened Piping Plover, threatened Red Knot, and numerous other shorebirds and waterbirds." Her view has been confirmed by comments from the Nongamc Conservation Section of DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service filed in response to Sea Island's application.

"The undisputed science from all reputable experts demonstrates that the proposed groin would replicate the massive loss of beach and habitat that the current groin on Sea Island has caused," said Steve Caley, Legal Director for GreenLaw. "While possibly protecting the expected multi-million dollar homes to be built at the Cloister Reserve, in return, the groin will destroy significant parts of the Spit on the downdrift side of the groin. Approval of this proposed project would set a terrible precedent for the entire Georgia coast."

"Such a project is clearly not in the public interest as required by the Shore Protection Act," stated Dave Kyler with the Center for a Sustainable Coast. "As such, the groin proposal should be denied.

Contact: Steve Caley at (4()4) 659-3122, ext. 222 (office); 678-595-8828 (cell)

To read GreenLaw's comments on the proposal, please click here