The coast of Georgia and South Carolina is currently experiencing a double whammy, environmentally speaking: Not only are its distinctive wetlands extraordinarily sensitive to human interference, this is one of the most rapidly developing parts of the country. New and often-poorly planned subdivisions and resort communities are popping up all over the place. Vastly increased port activity, too, is taking a devastating toll on the salt marsh and surrounding barrier islands. Combine all that with the South’s often skeptical attitude towards environmental activism, and you have a recipe for potential ecological disaster.
Thankfully, there are some bright spots. More and more communities are seeing the value of responsible planning and not green-lighting every new development sight unseen. Land trusts and other conservation organizations are growing in size, number, funding, and influence. The large number of marine biologists in these areas at various research and educational institutions means there’s a wealth of education and talent available in advising local governments and citizens on how best to conserve the area’s natural beauty.
Here’s a closer look at some of the most urgent environmental issues facing the region today: