Two Camden County environmental projects are closer to receiving more than $4.28 million to their overall $47.5 million cost.
Funding approved through the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act will go toward the purchase of the Cabin Bluff property and environmental restoration of the Noyes Cut ecosystem.
Funding for these and other projects around the state will have to go through several rounds of approvals before release. Final approval is expected in June.
The projects received the go-ahead after the first-level application process by the board of the Outdoor Stewardship that was set up to evaluate and approve applications.
The Cabin Bluff area — more than 11,000 acres that are more than 40 percent salt marsh — includes a private hunting preserve known as America’s oldest hunting club that dates back to 1827. Howard Coffin brought Cabin Bluff into the 20th century, and it became frequented by the wealthy, powerful and famous in the first half of the century.
A project summary submitted by the state Department of Natural Resources notes it is “one of the most important gopher tortoise sites in Southeast Georgia, and together with neighboring tracts represents one of the most important in the state.”
It also provides habitat for the federally threatened eastern indigo snake, federal candidate gopher frog, and state-protected bald eagle.
“Several globally imperiled and high-quality natural communities are also found on the property, including maritime live oak forest, longleaf/slash pine wet flatwoods, pitcherplant bogs, and South Atlantic nonriverine coastal swamp forest,” DNR stated in its application. “The marshlands host a wide array of wading and shorebirds, and several nesting rookeries are known from the property. The adjacent Cumberland and Crooked rivers are Georgia’s most important summer habitats for the federally threatened Florida manatee.”
It will cost close to $40 million to establish permanent protection for the entire property through acquisition and conservation easements. The state would take over the entire 4,578 acres of salt marsh and 3,381 of the 6,574 acres of upland, and operate it as a wildlife management area.
The remainder of the property, which would include the buildings, would remain privately owned but protected through a joint easement held by the state and the Navy.
Funding for the project also is being sought through a Forest Legacy Grant, a Navy challenge grant, U.S. Fish and Wildlife grants and donations from private foundations.
The Noyes Cut was started by a lumber mill owner more than a century ago and improved upon by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1930s and ‘40s to move lumber between Dover Creek and the Satilla River.
Restoring the area to its original pre-20th century condition is expected to yield a significant benefit to the Satilla marshes.
The area is considered key for fish species called diadromous, which migrate between the sea and freshwater.
Less than 1 percent of fish in the world are diadromous.
Total cost of the Noyes project is $7.6 million.
Funds for the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act are generated from taxes paid on outdoor recreation equipment.