St. Simons Land Trust was established with the mission to preserve the Island's natural and scenic character and to enhance the quality of life for present and future generations.
St. Simons Island is one of four islands on the southern coast of Georgia known as the Golden Isles. Home to more than 12,000 full-time residents, St. Simons is known for its stately live oaks, abundant salt and fresh water marshes, meandering creeks and rivers, and rich history. Spotted seatrout, redfish, flounder and tarpon are bountiful in the creeks and near shore waters. And, just offshore is the calving ground for the North Atlantic right whale - one of the world's most endangered large whale species. Not surprisingly, St. Simons and neighboring Jekyll Island are favorite destinations for vacationers from around the world.
Like so many coastal areas, St. Simons experienced a population boom in the 1990s. Recognizing that the uniqueness of this barrier island would continue to attract new residents and thus be heavily impacted by development, the St. Simons Land Trust was born. Recognition is given to the vision of local leaders such as Ben Slade III, Frances McCrary, and Jim and Jeannie Manning who were the Land Trust's founding members, and the organization's first Executive Director, Catherine Main, who operated the Land Trust out of her home until 2001 when an office was opened on Frederica Road.
The St. Simons Land Trust has become a community institution entrusted with an extraordinary responsibility: to protect our scenic and historic treasures and to preserve the beauty and charm of our island for generations to come.
Conservation is Our Responsibility
Since those early days, the Land Trust has preserved more than 1,000 acres (and another 200 acres in a nearby county). We also hold over 300 acres in conservation easements. The first parcel of land protected was the Gilbert property on Frederica Road, now the site of the popular John Gilbert Nature Trail which was opened to the public in 2006.
Like more than 1,600 land trusts across the country, the SSLT works with willing property owners to preserve their land using tools that include: conservation easements, donations of land and outright purchases of land through tax advantaged "bargain sales." We are guided in our work by our most recent strategic plan for land conservation on the island that has established target areas for our work and priorities for transactions.
The success of the Land Trust can be directly linked to its strong membership base of more than 1,200 households, with core group of over 350 Live Oak Society members who contribute $1,000 or more each year and nearly 30 Benefactors who contribute more than $10,000 each year to help the Land Trust achieve its mission. This, coupled with the Community Partners Program involving lodging, restaurant and tourist-related businesses, provides the income base for the Land Trust to operate and undertake conservation projects. Less than 15% of our total income is used for operations and stewardship of land holdings leaving most Land Trust income for project related work. The Land Trust has been able to leverage donor contributions effectively by taking advantage of an array of federal, state and county funds to help complete conservation transactions. For more information on the St. Simons Land Trust visit them online at sslt.org.
St. Simons Land Trust
1810 Frederica Rd
P.O. Box 24615
St. Simons Island, GA 31522 912.638.9109
St. Simons Unique Environment + Ecosystems
While the beauty and charm of St. Simons Island is undeniable, it and all other barrier islands serve an extremely important purpose in the environment. Barrier islands act as a buffer against storm surges, are a home to many endangered, threatened and protected species, improve water quality and minimize erosion. Keeping these islands in great condition is vital to the health and resilience of the Georgia coast. Although barrier islands such as St. Simons are effective at absorbing wind and wave energy from storms, they are also very fragile ecosystems that are constantly changing.
However, for the past four to five thousand years, Georgia's barrier islands have remained stable enough to develop magnificent maritime forests, which add to the island's efficacy at resisting wind and wave energy while also providing a temperature regulated home for different species of plants and animals. The beaches formed by continuous wave action act as a haven for creatures such as ghost crabs, sand fleas, and shorebirds. Sand dunes formed by steady wind are protected by hardy sea oats and resilient wax myrtle, and the salt marshes protected by the outer island are a hub of activity for an assortment of birds, insects and aquatic animals. If we continue protecting our island from overdevelopment, beautiful formations like these will continue to occur and biodiversity will remain at some of the highest levels in the southeast.
As of now, Georgia has the least disturbed coastline of the eastern United States. Development of these delicate areas only increases the difficulty of maintaining them and allowing them to remain a stable home to a diversity of plant and animal species. That is why we at the St. Simons Land Trust feel as though it is our responsibility to protect and preserve these areas, with the help of our wonderful community members, so that our coastlines remain strong, beautiful and habitable for future generations.
Support the St. Simons Land Trust through membership giving and you can be sure that your dollars go to work directly in our community to preserve the scenic and natural qualities of the Island. For more information on the St. Simons Land Trust visit sslt.org. Help keep St. Simons Island and the Golden Isles beautiful for generations to come.
The Golden Isles Tree Survey provides a free online database that is constantly updated with tree histories searchable by the tree tag number attached to registered Live Oak trees in Glynn County.
Glynn County GIS partnered with Golden Isles Fund for Trees (GIFT) to provide a GPS location for each tree inventoried by GIFT. Many of the Live Oak trees found throughout St. Simons Island and the surrounding areas contain numbered identification tags that can be searched in the online database that contains the tree's history, approximate age, location, girth and name.
Newly planted Glynn County trees were also surveyed as well as trees that are part of the Georgia Forestry Commission's Champion Tree program which showcases the largest known species of a particular tree.
Historic Live Oaks
The majestic Live Oak trees of St. Simons are an integral part of Georgia's history as well as what makes our Island so special.
For example, the Trustee George Live Oak (#166), located at 100 Mallery Street right by the pier next to the playground and park benches, encompasses the full spectrum of Georgia's historic journey from colony to statehood.
The first twenty years of Georgia history are referred to as the "Trustee Georgia" period because during that time a Board of Trustees governed the colony as a corporation, rather than a colony of the Crown. The charter was granted to General James Oglethorpe on April 21, 1732, by King George II of England. Oglethorpe envisioned the province as a location for the resettlement of English debtors and "the worthy poor." Another reason for the founding of the colony was to create a garrison province to defend the colonies from the Spanish and the French.