A Rare and Urgent Opportunity
For generations, Musgrove has been accessible to the public only once per year during the Tour of Homes, when its beautiful tree-lined driveway transforms into a gateway to a world of pristine maritime forest and well-appointed cottages. Many vacationers visit St. Simons every year without even noticing this verdant and peaceful property.
The owner of the land, the Brenn Foundation, is selling 260 acres of the Plantation. Instead of slating the land for development, the Foundation has approached the St. Simons Land Trust to preserve, enhance, and showcase this magnificent local treasure.
In May 2016, the Land Trust acquired the first of three phases, a 58-acre tract at the north boundary of the property. Read the announcement here. In February 2017, the Land Trust acquired the second phase, a 90-acre tract. Read the announcement here.
The Land Trust’s vision for Musgrove features a small waterfront access area nestled within a 260-acre wilderness area crisscrossed by hiking and biking trails. It will connect to one of the island’s thoroughfares – Lawrence Road - to accommodate visitors and facilitate an intimate connection with nature. This park will attract area residents and regional vacationers looking for a safe, fun, and beautiful outdoor experience near the heart of the island.
The land surrounding the waterfront area will remain pristine natural habitat, protected by a conservation easement held by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. This piece of land has special resonance among conservationists for its threatened habitat that supports numerous rare plant and animal species, plays a key role in regional wilderness corridors, and provides important natural defenses against coastal storms.
Preserving this land near the heart of the island will provide the region with a rare asset: a firmly protected wilderness area that bookends a broader conservation zone and has the capacity to engage everyday passersby and tourists alike. The paths within the property will connect to the island-wide trail system, and create new opportunities for outdoor activity. Inspiring a close connection with Musgrove’s majestic natural features will foster a strong conservation ethic in generations of visitors.
The recreational opportunities and ecological value of the Land Trust’s vision for Musgrove make it one of the most important and exciting projects on today’s Georgia coast.
The coexistence of mature maritime forest and pond pine wetlands on Musgrove is an exceedingly rare feature that exists today on only three Georgia barrier islands.
Much of the land planned for conservation is composed of Palustrine forested wetlands that are in national decline, calling for intensive efforts to save and preserve them.
The unusually gradual slope to higher elevations at Musgrove creates unique ecosystem conditions and natural defenses against storm surge and sea level rise.
- Musgrove stands at the gateway from the populous center of the island to the north end of St. Simons, running for more than a mile along Lawrence Road and parallel to the well-traveled Hampton Spur bike trail.
- This location near the heart of the island positions the land to enable easy access to the Georgia coast’s unique and important ecosystems, inspiring appreciation and reverence.
- The marsh shoreline on Musgrove functions as an important habitat for coastal species. This marsh-upland transitional zone is an important nesting ground for osprey, wood stork, and diamondback terrapins. Rarecalciphilic plants such as Florida privet and climbing buckthorn are also found along the Musgrove shoreline.
- The waterfront access area on Village Creek will give visitors the opportunity to lose themselves in the pristine beauty and tranquility of our island.
- We expect this designated waterfront area nestled within 260 acres of wilderness to stand as a keystone in our community's network of public parks and natural areas.
- Transforming Musgrove will equip our island and region with another powerful ecological and recreational attraction.
- This project will bring us closer to the Land Trust Strategic Plan’s vision of “2000 acres protected and connected” by a system of trails throughout the island.
- We have already linked our parks with more than 12 miles of trails on St. Simons Island; Musgrove will represent a new and important addition to this island-wide trail system.
- With more than three miles of paths already on Musgrove, we are committed to holding ecological disturbance to a minimum when installing new trails.
- After years of Musgrove standing as a private reserve, opening a public network of trails on the land will spark community interest and motivate islanders and annual visitors alike to get outside and be active.
- Like the hiking and biking trails on the land, Village Creek and its related saltmarsh contain numerous waterways and rivulets that act as kayak trails – more opportunities for everyone to be active while exploring nature.
- Our planned fishing dock along the salt water will enable visitors to revel in the peaceful majesty of our natural surroundings.
- The boat ramp will cater to kayaks and paddle boards but will also be able to accept a number of motorized boats less than 20 feet in length, accommodating the Department of Natural Resources’ emergency and research vessels.
Opportunity to Avoid Imminent Development
Opportunity to Avoid Imminent Development
- The land’s location at the gateway to the north end of the island gives it special resonance among developers as a secluded yet accessible investment.
- With Musgrove’s unusually high elevations near the marsh and its close proximity to the core of the island, developers would be eager to purchase Musgrove and install a residential and commercial complex.
- Needless to say, such a development plan would severely degrade Musgrove’s ecological value and eliminate the potential for natural outdoor recreation opportunities on the land.
- Demonstrating its commitment to natural spaces and our shared community, the BRENN Foundation has reached out to the Land Trust to protect and enhance Musgrove for future generations to enjoy.
- The Land Trust acted quickly on this urgent opportunity to protect Musgrove, successfully working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to secure a $1 million federal grant toward purchasing an initial 58-acre parcel, and a second $1 million grant for the 92-acre Phase 2, and a third $1 million grant for the 112-acre Phase 3.
- We have crafted a careful fundraising plan for this campaign to gather a diverse mix of support for this vital environmental and recreational project.