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US agency: Environmental impact study to look at threat to sea turtles

A group appears to have made progress in its fight with a U.S. agency over plans to dredge a shipping channel as loggerhead turtles nest.
US agency: Environmental impact study to look at threat to sea turtles
Posted at 6:40 PM, May 08, 2023

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will participate in a deeper study on its dredging practices in Georgia and how it impacts the life of rare sea turtles. 

A conservation group has now reportedly dropped a federal lawsuit filed earlier that sought to have a judge order the agency to conduct a study on how its actions affect wildlife. 

In 2022, the group One Hundred Miles became vocal about a plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge one million cubic yards of sea area from Georgia's Brunswick Harbor. This operation was set to take place as loggerhead sea turtles were nesting on the state's coastline. 

Catherine Ridley of One Hundred Miles said the agency would have "blood on their hands" if the Corps went ahead with the plan.

The Corps responded saying, "after further consideration we have decided to forgo the opportunity.” 

A spokesperson for the agency said, "We understand the importance of minimizing the loss of endangered species and have been coordinating with the National Marine Fisheries Service and other sea turtle experts." 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been battling environmental groups since 2021 after it was learned that the Corps planned to dredge a shipping channel in the coastal area of Brunswick during the loggerhead turtle's nesting season.

The groups demanded that the Corps perform an environmental impact study and produce a statement on the findings before ending seasonal dredging limits.

The Southern Environmental Law Center said, “These limitations have protected sea turtles and other marine life for decades.”

Megan Huynh with the SELC said, for a third year in a row, the Corps has proposed changes to operation and maintenance dredging in the Brunswick Harbor.

Ridley said, “Given the effectiveness of dredging windows, there is no logical explanation for the Corps to remove them.”

The group had previously filed a lawsuit on the matter with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia that accused the Corps of not performing sufficient studies on the environmental impact of dredging, which is required by the National Environmental Policy Act. 

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