The Shore Protection Act is the primary legal authority for protection and management of Georgia's shoreline features including sand dunes, beaches, sandbars, and shoals, collectively known as the sand-sharing system. The value of the sand-sharing system is recognized as vitally important in protecting the coastal marshes and uplands from Atlantic storm activity, as well as providing valuable recreational opportunities.
The Shore Protection Act limits activities in shore areas and requires a permit for certain activities and structures on the beach. Construction activity in sand dunes is limited to temporary structures such as crosswalks, and then only by permit from the Georgia Coastal Resources Division. Structures such as boat basins, docks, marinas, and boat ramps are not allowed in the dunes. Shore Permits, which are administered by the Coastal Resources Division, are not granted for activities that are inconsistent with the Georgia Coastal Management Program. The Shore Protection Act prohibits operation of any motorized vehicle on or over the dynamic dune fields and beaches, except as authorized for emergency vehicles, and governmental vehicles for beach maintenance or research. The Shore Protection Act also prohibits storage or parking of sailboats, catamarans, or other marine craft in the dynamic dune field.
Direct permitting authority regarding any proposed facilities located within the jurisdictional area the Shore Protection Act lies with the Shore Protection Committee. The Georgia Coastal Resources Division administers these permits. This authority is a very important aspect of the Georgia Coastal Management Program, since recreation at the water's edge is a significant demand. Providing public access and recreational opportunities at or near the beach while protecting the sand sharing system is an important component of the Program.