A bill originally introduced into the Georgia House last year was resurrected this legislative session. If passed, it would have made it easier to privatize Georgia’s salt marsh. Currently, the State of Georgia owns all of the salt marsh on our coast unless a landowner can prove that he or she holds an in tact Crown Grant from the King of England.
While a few crown grants still exist, any new claims to having a grant to our salt marsh must be verified by the Georgia Attorney General. Crown grant certification by the AG can take 3-5 years. This is because 250 years of documentation is understandably difficult to decipher, comprehend, and verify.
Further compounding the issue, nearly all crown grants contain unique stipulations which, if violated, nullify the grant. Examples of the stipulations include sustained rice cultivation, livestock grazing, and a commitment that all generations of male family members serve in the military. Hence, today private ownership of marshland is rare.
While we are all for private property rights, it is in the best interest of all Georgians to only give our ownership of salt marsh away when there is absolute certainty that the private rights exist. This bill shifts the burden of proof away from the petitioner and onto the state, forcing them to make irreversible decisions in an unreasonably short period of time (180 days). If the state fails to meet these shortened deadlines, the Kings Grant will be certified by default.
Thanks to pressure from folks like you, House Bill 370 did not make it through Crossover Day.