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Quantifying the Impact of Recreational and Commercial Usage of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway on the Natural Resources of Georgia

Investigators: Clark Alexander (SKIO, ACRL), Claudia Venherm (SKIO), Naomy Perez-Sanchez (SKIO), and Mike Robinson (SKIO), Lee Ann DeLeo (SKIO). SKIO = University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, ACRL = Applied Coastal Research Lab at Georgia Southern University.

Support: GA DNR Coastal Management Program (through a Coastal Incentive Grant)

Timeframe: 2009-2011

Project Objectives:
This study quantified the impact that waves and tidal energy have along the length of the Georgia portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW). The study used GIS to determine shoreline change along the channel margins over the past 150 years and the location and extent of supratidal oyster bars over the past 60 years. The distribution of shoreline features along the AIWW was also mapped.


  • Most of the AIWW in Georgia is undergoing erosion.
  • Most of this erosion has taken place between 1972 and 2004.
  • Armored shorelines have increased from ~0.1 to ~3.0 percent of the shoreline between 1942 and 2004.
  • Regions with the least amount of marsh channel interface exhibited increased dredge spoil, natural upland erosion, or shoreline armoring.
  • Live oysters are found along 9.5 percent (35 km) of the AIWW and dead oyster shell berms are found along 13.5 percent (50 km) of the AIWW.
  • The most populous counties exhibit the most widespread occurrences of low and high marsh scarps between 1942 and 2004.
  • Recreational boating has a major impact on shoreline dynamics in Georgia.



Jackson C, Alexander C, and D. Bush. 2009. Assessing Shoreline Change and Coastal Hazards
For the Georgia Coast. 58th Annual Meeting, Geological Society of America-Southeastern Division.

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This page was updated February 24, 2014