Saving the Georgia Coast
A Political History of the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act
Fifty years ago Georgia chose how it would use the natural environment of its coast. The General Assembly passed the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act in 1970, and, surprisingly, Lester Maddox, a governor who had built a conservative reputation by defending segregation, signed it into law. With this book, Paul Bolster narrates the politics of the times and brings to life the political leaders and the coalition of advocates who led Georgia to pass the most comprehensive protection of marshlands along the Atlantic seaboard.
Saving the Georgia Coast brings to light the intriguing and colorful characters who formed that coalition: wealthy island owners, hunters and fishermen, people who made their home on the coast, courageous political leaders, garden-club members, clean-water protectors, and journalists. It explores how that political coalition came together behind governmental leaders and traces the origins of environmental organizations that continue to impact policy today. Saving the Georgia Coast enhances the reader’s understanding of the many steps it takes for a bill to become a law.
Bolster’s account reviews state policy toward the coast today, giving the reader an opportunity to compare yesterday to the present. Current demands on the coastal environment are different—including spaceports and sea rise from climate change—but the political pressures to generate new wealth and new jobs, or to perch a home on the edge of the sea, are no different than fifty years ago. Saving the Georgia Coast spotlights the past and present decisions needed to balance human desires with the limits of what nature has to offer.