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Sunday, August 4, 2013 - 10:00am

GA Marsh Study Cited in Federal Lawsuit

A Georgia scientist's research on how boat docks can harm coastal marshes is being cited by both environmentalists and government regulators in a federal lawsuit.

The Southern Environmental Law Center wants a judge to throw out a perk that grants coastal Georgia homeowners permits to build larger docks if they're constructed with open grating instead of solid wood. The idea is that docks full of holes let more sunlight pass through to the marsh grasses beneath.

Clark Alexander of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah spent three years studying whether grates make docks less harmful to marshes. He concluded that the difference is minimal except at the peak of summer.

Alexander's study prompted the Army Corps of Engineers to reduce its size credit. The lawsuit seeks to eliminate it.