The Nature Conservancy and St. Simons Land Trust announced Friday the addition of around 100 acres to the 608-acre Cannon’s Point Preserve on St. Simons Island.

The acquisition includes some 35.7 upland acres and a little more than 63 acres of marshland, all funded by a $1 million U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant and administered by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Conservation Section, and brings the protected maritime forest, tidal creek and river shoreline habitat to more 700 acres in size, according to a statement from the Land Trust.

Protecting Cannon’s Point is something of a “labor of love for the land trust,” Susan Shipman, board chair of the trust and former director of the DNR Coastal Resources Division, said in a statement.

“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,” Shipman said. “Our partnership with Georgia DNR enabled The Nature Conservancy to obtain a conservation easement on the property, using a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant. This tract will be preserved in perpetuity.”

Christi Lambert, director of coastal and marine conservation at The Nature Conservancy, also spoke on the scope of the addition.

“We cannot overstate the significance of preserving an undeveloped tract of land of this size and with such large conservation values,” Lambert said. “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.”

The announcement is also a good example of the work the land trust continues to do despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nearly all our events that were planned for the Land Trust’s 20th anniversary last year had to be canceled or postponed,” said Emily Ellison, executive director of the Land Trust.

Everything that wasn’t canceled has gone remote, she said, and the organization had to change course multiple times to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“The greatest change has been putting increased focus on educational outreach and emphasizing the needs of our community partners,” which included educational material produced for local elementary schools, Ellison said.

The land trust also partnered with the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce to promotes its 2020 initiative to “keep it local,” Ellison said, culminating in Restaurant Week.

“We did this because we knew that the pandemic has greatly impacted the local restaurant industry and, since January is historically such a slow month, we wanted to help push as much business as possible to restaurants,” Ellison said.

While the land trust as an organization has worked to adapt, Ellison said the impact on its parks and properties around St. Simons Island has been “positive, for sure.”

“This was especially true during the most intense months of the pandemic when people were hesitant to venture out to many places,” Ellison said. “They not only felt it was safe to be outdoors and to walk the trails on Land Trust properties, it was clear from the messages we received that people were comforted by nature as never before.”

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