– June 7, 2023 –

Local advocate, native plants

Darien resident Deborah Sheppard has spent a lifetime advocating for the environment in Georgia, including over a decade at the helm of the Altamaha Riverkeeper. She’s still on the coast, but now Sheppard’s role is a more nurturing one, as The Current’s Mary Landers reports. Sheppard grows native plants at her home-based nursery Florabundance Gardens. Along with the pollinator-pleasing flowers she distributes from her marshfront garden, this formally trained horticulturalist also collects and dispenses wisdom about how these plants behave. Consider her warning about swamp sunflowers, which grow 5 feet tall and aren’t shy about claiming their space: “If it starts getting towards your kitchen, you need to worry because it’s gonna be competing with the teenage boys for dinner,” she said.

Deborah Sheppard at Florabundance Gardens

May defies warming trend

Savannah got a reprieve from global warming last month with a May that was much cooler than expected. The average temperature of 71.4°F was 2.6° below normal, the nonprofit Climate Central reported. Despite this year’s delay in using the air conditioning, Mays in Savannah are generally getting hotter. How much hotter? It’s about 1.6°F warmer in May in the Hostess City than it was in1970, according to Climate Central.

These observations highlight the difference between short-term conditions we call weather and the longer trends that make up climate. They also demonstrate that a small change in average temperature can be noticeable. The average global temperature on Earth has increased by at least 1.9° Fahrenheit since 1880, according to an ongoing temperature analysis led by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The majority of the warming has occurred since 1975.

With hotter temperatures and the accompanying higher power bills in mind, Savannah’s Office of Sustainability is offering a series of community workshops about free energy-efficiency programs. The programs are for income-qualified  (earning $60,000 or less for a family of four) Georgia Power customers and offer minor upgrades, which can be completed in one day, and will make homes more comfortable and help lower monthly energy bills. Seven workshops are available from now through July 7, with details available here.

Residents can receive assistance in applying for the programs at any workshop and only need to bring a copy of their Georgia Power bill. Staff will also be available to assist income-qualified seniors (ages 65 and up) with applying for Georgia Power’s senior discount program. 

Pinova reimburses fire departments

Pinova is reimbursing area fire departments for overtime and damage to equipment incurred as they responded to a massive fire at the Brunswick plant on April 15, Michael Hall of the Brunswick News reported last week. The Glynn County Commission accepted a check for nearly $38,000 from the wood resin-producing company.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation and the plant, which employs about 230 people, has not resumed operations.

Since 2018, Georgia regulators at the Environmental Protection Division have undertaken four formal enforcement actions against the facility for violations of the Clean Air Act, resulting in $229,000 in fines in the 12 months prior to April’s fire, The Current reported. Record keeping and maintenance failures prompted the largest fine of $185,000, issued in April 2022. 

Pinova fire smoke spreading just before dark on April 15. Credit: Ed GaNun

Also noted

• Georgia’s commercial and recreational food shrimp season will open in the state’s territorial waters at 8 a.m. June 20, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday. Shrimp season typically runs into December.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter’s 471-acre Camden County property is still for sale but it’s no longer being marketed as “Sheffield Island Plantation.” Instead, it’s listed as “Sheffield Island on Sadlers Creek Bluff.” The undeveloped land, located less than 10 miles south of the site previously proposed for the now defunct Spaceport Camden, is a marsh island that’s not known to have hosted a plantation. Carter previously stated he did not purchase the land as an investment, but it’s now listed at twice the price he paid in 2018.

• Sea turtles usually nest in sand dunes facing the beach. But recently one loggerhead mom on Cumberland Island climbed over those primary dunes and into the secondary ones to lay her eggs. “I think we can safely assume this nest won’t be affected by tidal inundation,” Georgia Sea Turtle Program coordinator Mark Dodd wrote on Facebook. Georgia’s sea turtle nest count was up to 632 as of May 31. That translates to an expected total of about 3,300 nests by the end of the season. “Not a record year, but a very solid effort,” Dodd wrote.

Cumberland Island sea turtle nesting on secondary dune
National Park Service turtle crew tracks the nesting loggerhead into secondary dunes Credit: Mark Dodd/DNR

If you have feedback, questions, concerns, or just like what you see, let us know at thecurrentga@gmail.com.

Native plants keep longtime activist rooted on the coast

Longtime environmental activist Deborah Sheppard now changes the Georgia Coast one native plant at a time.

Continue reading…

Records show Pinova stumbles in complying with regulations

Issues with air quality regulations have resulted over $200,000 in fines for Pinova over the last 12 months.

Continue reading…

Buddy Carter is selling property near defunct spaceport site

With the Spaceport Camden project aborted, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter is selling nearby property he claimed to have purchased only for recreational, not investment, purposes.

Continue reading…

Support independent, solutions-based investigative journalism without bias, fear or favor on issues affecting Savannah and Coastal Georgia.


Mary Landers is a reporter in Coastal Georgia focusing on the environment for The Current. It's a topic she covered for nearly 24 years at the Savannah Morning News, where she began and ended her time...