Coastal Marshlands Protection Act

The Coastal Marshlands Protection Act (CMPA) is a state was passed in the 1970's with the help of GreenLaw co-founder Ogdem Doremus.

Marsh ecosystems are extremely valuable to humans and the land. They assimilate pollutants, decrease erosion and minimize storm impacts, in addition to providing valuable estuaries for young marine life to start off in. The CMPA was created to protect coastal marshlands as a vital natural resource system in the state of Georgia. Georgia’s Coastal Marshland Protection Act (CMPA) clearly distinguishes between marsh and land. 

Under the CMPA marshes cannot be considered “land” and are therefore not eligible for development or active use.  Intended to protect marsh and estuarine areas, the CMPA regulates activities and structures to preserve the condition of the marsh while allowing everyone to enjoy all that the salt marsh and tidal areas have to offer.

The CMPA created the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee and prohibits any alteration of salt or brackish marsh without a permit. No person shall remove, fill, dredge, drain, or otherwise alter any marshlands in this state within the estuarine area thereof without first obtaining a permit from the committee.

It includes provisions like requiring a needs assessment when construction or other human activity may impact state marshlands.

There are six exemptions to the Act's permit requirement.
They include:

  1. Activites of the Dept. of Transportation related to public road systems.
  2. U.S. agencies charged with keeping rivers and harbors open for navigation.
  3. Activities of public utility companies regulated by the Public Service Commission; related to constructing, erecting repairing or maintaining utility lines.
  4. Activities related to the construction or repair of railroad lines and bridges.
  5. Activities of political subdivisions incident to pipelines for the transport of water and sewage.
  6. The building of private docks on pilings above the marsh grass, by the owners of residences located on adjoining high land.