One-hundred Acres Added to Cannons Point Preserve on St. Simons Island, GA
Partnership of Global Significance.
St. Simons Land Trust (SSLT) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced today that approximately 100 protected acres have been added to Cannons Point Preserve, the environmentally significant peninsula on the north-end of St. Simons Island. This includes 35.7 upland acres and just over 63 acres of marshland that were funded by a $1 million U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant and administered by Georgia DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section. This additional acreage brings Cannons Point Preserve to more than 700 acres of permanently protected maritime forest, salt marsh, tidal creek and river shoreline that provide habitat for wildlife such as oysters, birds, fish, and manatee.
St. Simons Land Trust purchased Cannons Point in 2012 and granted TNC a conservation easement on the then 608-acre property, preventing future commercial or residential development and ensuring the protection of the land and its conservation values in perpetuity.
Georgia DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section, led by program manager Jason Lee, secured the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant. The Section works to conserve the more than 95 percent of native species in Georgia not fished for or hunted, plus rare plants and natural habitats. The team articulated the environmental significance of this property and the importance of sharing it with the public.
“Safeguarding the spectacular natural resources of Cannons Point Preserve is a labor of love among St. Simons residents and visitors, staff and board of the Land Trust, and the many partners with whom we work,” said Susan Shipman, board chair of the Trust. “Adding this tract is in alignment with our long-term vision for the Preserve and with the Land Trust’s mission of protecting and preserving the natural and scenic character of the island for present and future generations. Our partnership with Georgia DNR enabled The Nature Conservancy to obtain a conservation easement on the property, using a US Fish and Wildlife Service grant. This tract will be preserved in perpetuity.”
Cannons Point Preserve is home to more than 400 acres of some of the last intact maritime forest on St. Simons Island. Consisting of native plant life—including live oaks, palmettos, magnolias, loblolly pines, and other trees, shrubs, and underbrush—maritime forests mitigate climate change impacts and promote adaptation to them. The forests can withstand sea level rise and periodic flooding, strong winds and salt spray. They also stabilize soil, facilitate groundwater recharge, provide critically important habitat for threatened and endangered native plants and animals, and act as protective barriers to the mainland.
As a result, Cannons Point Preserve has become the host site of active scientific research including reforestation and the creation of living shorelines. For example, since 2016, SSLT, TNC and the Georgia DNR have partnered with Dr. Owen Burney of New Mexico State University and Dr. Douglass Jacobs of Purdue University on the first-ever maritime forest restoration project in the United States. During that time, more than 3,000 live oak seedlings have been planted on 27 research sites throughout the preserve.
“Such research had not been conducted previously,” said Stephanie Knox, preserve manager at Cannon’s Point Preserve. “And yet learning how to restore forests that have been lost has implications far beyond Georgia’s coast. Having these additional acres will provide even more opportunities for `citizen science’ for learners of all ages to explore and use as a living classroom.”
Christi Lambert, director of coastal and marine conservation at The Nature Conservancy added, “We cannot overstate the significance of preserving an undeveloped tract of land of this size and with such large conservation values. Cannon’s Point Preserve and the work that is ongoing there has global significance. It is part of a network of connected and resilient lands and waters that can withstand climate impacts and serve as a model for local community involvement in coastal resilience.”
This land acquisition will eventually provide opportunities for increased public access to the Preserve during its visiting hours. While the purpose of the Preserve is to protect the biodiverse ecosystems that are found on the property, residents of St. Simons Island and visitors may also enjoy access to recreational activities at Cannon’s Point that include fishing, birding, sea kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and bicycling.
About St. Simons Land Trust
In 2020, the Land Trust celebrated its 20th Anniversary of land conservation on St. Simons Island. During the past two decades, the nonprofit organization has preserved and protected more than 1,000 acres including Cannon’s Point Preserve, the undeveloped peninsula on the island’s north end; Guale Preserve, a 258-acre natural area that was once part of the historic Musgrove Plantation; as well as multiple pocket parks and green spaces across the island. It has been involved in numerous public-private conservation projects and is a regional leader in the preservation of unprotected land. For additional information, please go to the organization’s website or follow on these social media platforms: https://www.facebook.com/stsimonslandtrust/
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.