– June 28, 2023 –

Today: High 93°, Low 73°

Good morning and happy Wednesday! My name is Sarah Harwell, and I’m a summer intern filling in for Mary today to bring you your environmental and scientific stories for the week.

In today’s newsletter, Georgia’s bald eagle population flies higher, City of Savannah’s Office of Sustainability shines a light on energy efficiency, and Fort Pulaski is overdue for a plan.

With this being my first newsletter, I’d love to hear what you think! Send feedback to thecurrentga@gmail.com or you can reach me directly @newswithsarah.h on Instagram. 


Fort Pulaski plans ahead

Fort Pulaski from the air
Fort Pulaski National Monument sits on Cockspur Island, located between Savannah and Tybee Island at the mouth of the Savannah River. The river’s south channel is seen at top. Credit: National Park Service

Substantial sea-level rise, a 19th-century fort built from 13,000,000 bricks and outdated centralized maintenance facilities. What do these all have in common? According to Benjamin Payne from GPB News, these are all considerations the National Park Service must take into account in new upgrade plans for Fort Pulaski. 

To help with these plans, the agency wants to hear from the public. Among the proposed changes, fixing how the NPS staff is able to prepare for and respond to storms is in consideration. Fort Pulaski ranger Joel Cadoff said the fort’s walls are still marked where surges from when Hurricanes Matthew and Irma hit, reminders of the importance of proposed upcoming modifications. 

July 12th is the deadline for public comment. Learn about the proposal and how citizens can have a say in what happens to this national monument.

Learn more here.


Comeback of the season

“The comeback of the bald eagle in Georgia is a great conservation success story…” Georgia Department of Natural Resources survey leader Bob Sargent

An eaglet was observed on the nest at Fort Pulaski on Feb. 3, 2022. Credit: Photo by Pam Vercellone-Smith

Last spring, an avian flu outbreak took a toll on Georgia’s bald eagle population, with less than half the nests producing even one eaglet. This contrasts to the normal 3 eggs a year bald eagles typically lay. Now, Georgia Recorder’s Ross Williams reports the birds’ nesting rates have returned to normal range. But, why is this important?

Well, the bald eagle in Georgia is already considered a threatened species.

Threatened vs. Endangered: A threatened species is likely to become endangered, while an endangered species is in danger of extinction. 

Both coastal and southwest Georgia make up about 85% of the state’s eagles and if high nest failures were to continue, that would only lower the population even further. Fortunately, Williams cites record numbers in this year’s survey, highlighting a much happier outcome. 

Read more here.


Sustainability savings

Throughout the summer, the City of Savannah Office of Sustainability is hosting workshops to educate and assist Georgia Power customers on how they can save money through energy efficiency programs. We attended a couple of these workshops and highlighted several money-saving opportunities they shared. You can see more on that by heading to our Instagram here. But, even beyond Georgia Power programs, the workshop presentation gave tips on how anyone can become more energy efficient.

Let there be light: Make the switch to more energy efficient LED light bulbs

Up and down: Try turning your thermostat up a few degrees in the summer and a few degrees lower in the winter 

Squeaky clean: Use cold water to wash your clothes 

Something in the air: Remember to change your air filters regularly 


BEACH ADVISORIES: As of last night…

Before you head to the beach, check the link to see current notices.

Understanding the advisory: When the level of bacteria is higher than acceptable levels, there is an increased risk of illness to swimmers. When a beach is under advisory, swimming or wading in that area is not recommended. However, an advisory does not mean the beach is closed.  The Beach Water Quality program never closes beaches — it only advises that swimming may be more risky. (Via Georgia Department of Natural Resources Georgia Healthy Beaches Program )


Coastal Georgia’s Fort Pulaski seeks public comment on climate resiliency plan, amid sea-level rise

The Civil War-era seaside fort and adjoining park are grappling with the effects of climate change, prompting federal officials to adapt.

Continue reading…

Federal crackdown on coal ash waste in the works as Southern Co. resists tougher environmental regs

The new policy could force Georgia’s largest utility company to abandon plans to leave coal ash in contact with groundwater at some of its older sites.

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The Supreme Court just shriveled federal protection for wetlands

The U.S. Supreme Court narrows the interpretation of the Clean Water Act in a decision that could expose many wetlands across the U.S. to filling and development.

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Commission to consider building demolitions near Forsyth Park

Debate centers on meanings of ‘contributing’ structures, historical and architectural significance. Owners say their plans will provide more parking, more office space.

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Coastal Georgia’s ever-growing film industry prospers

Savannah was home to more than 100 film productions last year, earning the film industry millions in tax credits. Georgia lawmakers now want to know what taxpayers got in return.

Continue reading…

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Sarah Harwell is a Florida native and rising senior at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. She has served as a brand engagement manager for Centric magazine and beat reporter for NSM Today, both...