Land Trust Property May Soon Be Added to Fort Frederica
Two companion bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives in January that would allow for the expansion of Fort Frederica National Monument and lead to the purchase of 20 adjacent acres of land currently owned by the St. Simons Land Trust. Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson and Rep. Buddy Carter introduced the bills, which would expand the cap on the size of the park from 250 acres to 305 acres. The United States House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 494, the Fort Frederica National Monument Boundary Expansion Act, on February 6. The legislation now awaits review by the U.S. Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
The Land Trust purchased the property, using borrowed funds, in 2007 from the Sea Island Company and Christ Church Frederica. It had been slated for development of 35 houses, which would have been visible to Fort Frederica visitors.
From the beginning, the plan was for the Land Trust to hold the property only until Congress allotted funds to purchase it for transfer to the National Park Service. After much delay, the Land Trust hopes that will occur before the end of 2017.
The property provides habitat for native and migratory birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and plants. Three significant habitats exist on the property: salt marsh and brackish marsh; pine forest dominated by loblolly pine, with an understory of live oak, water oak, wax myrtle, and yaupon holly; and maritime forest dominated by live oak, laurel oak, magnolia, and pignut hickory.
Similar legislation passed unanimously in the House in 2016, but the Senate never voted on it. "We're very grateful to our legislators for introducing this legislation again," said Executive Director David Pope. "We have high hopes for its success during this year's legislative session."