So Georgia state law requires protection for perennial river corridors and the major rivers in the WWALS watersheds qualify as perennial rivers. What are the rules? Apparently to be a “Qualified Local Government” a comprehensive plan including River Corridor Protection Plans with protection for a natural vegetative buffer area bordering each protected river is required.
Rules of Georgia Department of Natural Resources,
Environmental Protection Division
Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria
(1)(b) The Comprehensive Georgia Planning Act of 1989 provides for the development of coordinated and comprehensive planning by municipal and county governments. Such comprehensive plans shall consider the natural resources, environments, and vital areas within the jurisdiction of the local government. Maintenance of the status as a “Qualified Local Government” is contingent upon the development of such comprehensive plans (O.C.G.A. 50-8-1 et seq.).
(1)(d) The method mandated in O.C.G.A. 12-2-8 for the protection of river corridors is the established of natural vegetative buffer area bordering each protected river. Local government will develop River Corridor Protection Plans (as part of the comprehensive plans authorized under O.C.G.A. 36-70-3) that will maintain the integrity of this buffer area.
So to be a “Qualified Local Government” a comprehensive plan including River Corridor Protection Plans with protection for a natural vegetative buffer area bordering each protected river is required.
What form should these River Corridor Protection Plans take? Back to Georgia Mountain and River Corridor Protection Act, O.C.G.A. 12-2-8 (2010),
(g)(3) River corridors shall be appropriately identified and mapped in the land use plans developed by local and regional governments.
There’s a lot more detail in that law, plus more detail in the Rules, such as this:
- Local Governments Responsibilities
- Local governments shall identify any protected river within their jurisdiction. The Department of Natural Resources will provide maps and technical guidance regarding protected rivers if and as available.
- Local governments, which contain protected rivers within their jurisdiction, shall adopt River Corridor Protection Plans.
- River Corridor Protection Plans
- River corridors shall be appropriately mapped and identified in the River Corridor Protection Plans.
- River Corridor Protection Plans shall address, at a minimum, the following considerations with regard to river corridors:
- The plans shall consider the effect of activities in the river corridor on public health, safety, welfare, and the private property rights.
That’s enough to get the idea. Private property rights do figure in River Corridor Protection Plans, but public health, safety, and welfare are named first. So any local government that wants to remain a “Qualified Local Government” needs to have a comprehensive plan that addresses public health, safety, welfare, and private property rights in its River Corridor Protection Plan.
So what rules has GA EPD made to implement this law? See next post.