Jump to main content.

Governments Plan for Development of Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea Level: McIntosh County, Georgia

Additional background prepared by the staff of Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center and Jim Titus

McIntosh County is the state's second smallest (433 square miles) and has the smallest population (11,000) of the six coastal counties. Points of interest in McIntosh County include the City of Darien (which includes a riverfront park and an outlet shopping mall area), the Fort King George Museum (built by the British in 1721), and Sapelo Island (a pristine barrier island 8 miles east of Darien). Less than 2 percent of the county is developed, and nearly 70 percent is commercially forested. Nevertheless, McIntosh County has recently experienced a surge in residential development. Most of this new construction is concentrated in the northeastern portion of the county. Planners expect that development trends will turn westward as the costs of development near the water become prohibitive.

McIntosh County officials view the developed portion of Townsend as considered certain to be protected, while other developed areas are likely to be protected (including Richmond Hill, Shellman Bluff, Crescent, Meridian, and portions of Sapelo Island). The county's most populated town, Darien, is mostly located above the 20-foot elevation contour.

The County does not intend to assist private property owners in any efforts to protect structures from sea level rise. Given the value of developed property in coastal Georgia, however, and the state's policy of approving seawall permit applications, county officials believe that privately funded protection of these lands is likely. Lands currently classified as agriculture and forest will be converted to residential and commercial uses as development pressures increase and as sea level rise becomes imminent. Local government offices that are located near the coast will eventually be relocated westward to higher ground.

The County is committed to protecting its roads by elevating them when the threat of inundation becomes apparent. It is unlikely, however, that the County will accept maintenance responsibilities for private roads. There is no viable re-route option available for evacuation routes, which include I-95, U.S. 17, and GA Hwy 57. DOT will maintain these evacuation routes.

In addition to these factors, our maps use the previous county comprehensive plan to identify lands where future development and shore protection area likely.

Top of page

Governments Plan for Development of Most Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea (PDF, 7 pp., 1.3 MB) was originally published in Environmental Research Letters , Issue 3, Volume 4 (2009).

Top of page

| Main Study | Elevation Maps | Planning Maps | Related Links

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.