The Nature Conservancy and Open Space Institute Move Historic Cabin Bluff Property Closer to Permanent Protection
Partners sell off waterfront compound to a Florida Church.
The historic Cabin Bluff property in Camden County is one step closer to permanent protection now that The Church of Eleven22, a Jacksonville, Florida-based congregation, has purchased a 3,217-acre portion of the property known as the retreat tract from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Open Space Institute (OSI). The Conservancy and Open Space Institute, with financial assistance from Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, Wyss Foundation and generous donors, purchased the 11,000-acre property in 2018 with the goal of protecting it in its entirety by selling a portion to a private buyer and the remainder to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources with each portion subject to a conservation easement.
While the church’s tract will not be open to the public, the sale brings Georgians closer to obtaining a new coastal Wildlife Management Area that is amply suited for outdoor recreation, including wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting, kayaking and nature photography. The state and Navy co-hold a conservation and restrictive easement over the now privately-owned portion of Cabin Bluff. The state is expected to take ownership of the remaining land in 2021.
“Finding a conservation buyer for Cabin Bluff’s retreat tract was a critical element of our plan to permanently protect this magnificent property,” says Deron Davis, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in Georgia. “We were pleased to learn that The Church of Eleven22 has a long-held reverence for this land and that they embrace the opportunity to care for it.”
Located just across the Intracoastal Waterway from Cumberland Island National Seashore, Cabin Bluff is a lush, highly biodiverse landscape of salt marshes, tidal creeks, maritime forests, and towering longleaf pine woodlands. It supports gopher tortoise, wood stork, eastern indigo snake and other threatened and endangered species. The carbon-sequestering marshland and pines also buffer St. Marys and other coastal communities from storm surge and flooding.
“Cabin Bluff and neighboring Ceylon are significant natural areas in Georgia, and OSI is proud to be a partner in both,” says Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “An incredible array of native species will continue to call the property and its waters home, and the public will have more access to the land than ever in its history. I thank TNC and, the state of Georgia, the Wyss Foundation and all our partnes and supporters who made the permanent protection of this property a reality. ”
The Nature Conservancy began working on the Georgia coast in the 1960s with the protection of Wassaw, Wolf and Egg Islands. Building on that legacy, TNC continues to protect Georgia’s globally significant barrier islands and the oyster reefs and maritime forests that protect the shoreline. TNC also worked with Camden County and partners to develop three online tools that allow users visualize, understand, and plan for flood risks in their area.
The Open Space Institute (OSI), a new conservation partner in Georgia, has helped to protect over 20,000 acres in coastal GA over the past three years. OSI and TNC are working with a unique collaborative, the Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative, to protects and steward lands essential for the rare gopher tortoise with the goal of preventing the federal listing of the species. Cabin Bluff contributes directly to the protection of this charismatic reptile.
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.