The Sandy Slough and the Land-and-Water Disput

Supreme Court hears lively debate on protecting wetlands, led in part by Justice Jackson and Justice Harlan Stone:

Harlan Stone

U.S. Supreme Court Justice

John Randolph Tucker (1833–1908)

“A case involving land and water is not necessarily one of water rights. It is one involving power that affects the power of the sea and its relation to the land and that has to be taken into consideration in order to determine what the rights of the people are. It is a very difficult one for me.”

—John Randolph Tucker, United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit

The case involving a land-and-water dispute arose out of a dispute between the state of Georgia and the United States over a 5,000-foot strip of land adjoining the coast of Georgia. That strip of land, known as the Sandy Slough, was located in the midst of a coastal marsh, a marsh where saltwater inundated the land and wetlands. There was an old ferry located on the tract, and by 1930 a waterway was constructed to allow the ferry to discharge its sewage into the Gulf that then flowed into the Sandy Slough. There were no bridges or anything useful in the area, and the only land on the property was a small farm owned by an individual named Daniel Clark. This farm was located about 2 miles from the Sandy Slough, and it was necessary to cross the property to reach the Sandy Slough. The crossing was accomplished using four railroad tracks.

In 1938, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, acting on behalf of the state of Georgia, acquired both the Sandy Slough and the farm. The Sandy Slough was designated a national game preserve, and a small museum was built nearby on a tidal island. A local historian named Charles M. Leland wrote a history of the Sandy Slough and wrote a book about the farmlands of the Sandy Slough. A newspaper article about the Sandy Slough by the local press brought to the notice of the local historian. He wrote articles about the Sandy Slough and the farmlands, but none of these written works were published

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