Foundation Makes a Game-Changing Investment in SSI and the Land Trust
The St. Simons Land Trust is pleased to announce a major investment by The Anschutz Foundation to protect more land and preserve the quality of life on St. Simons Island.
The Land Trust currently owns and manages approximately 1,000 acres on St. Simons Island that are preserved for perpetuity. “Our goal is to protect 2,000 acres island-wide,” said David Pope, Executive Director of the Land Trust. “That’s roughly twenty percent of St. Simons. This contribution from The Anschutz Foundation allows us to take a huge step towards this strategic goal.”
The Anschutz Foundation was established by Philip F. Anschutz for the purpose of supporting a broad range of charitable initiatives. “The Anschutz family, which owns the Sea Island Company, is committed to the long-term future of St. Simons Island and Sea Island,” said Scott Steilen, President and CEO of Sea Island Company. “This gift is a direct result of the Foundation’s intention to preserve the character and quality of life of these very special islands. We are encouraged by the Land Trust’s comprehensive land preservation strategy and look forward to the community joining us in this critical preservation effort.”
The Foundation's contribution will come in two phases. The initial grant of approximately $2 million, which has already been received, will fund the purchase of properties currently under contract by the Land Trust. “We will be publicly identifying these acquisitions soon,” said David Pope. “They include historically significant and highly visible pieces of land.”
The second phase of the gift – also approximately $2 million – comes with a challenge that requires the Land Trust to raise an additional $4 million from other sources. “This sets a high bar,” said Pope, “but I am absolutely positive we can meet the challenge. The property owners on both St. Simons Island and Sea Island have a keen interest in preserving the tree canopy, biodiversity, natural habitats, and ambiance of these barrier islands. Historically, the islands’ property owners have also been extraordinarily generous. I am confident that as a community, we will rise to the occasion.”
The challenge grant by The Anschutz Foundation carries forward a long-standing tradition. Over the years, Sea Island Company has donated various parcels of land to St. Simons’ churches, schools, charitable institutions, and parks. “The gift by The Anschutz Foundation to the Land Trust continues this legacy of support to the well-being of St. Simons,” said Frances McCrary, Chair of the Land Trust Board of Directors. “To reflect and strengthen that relationship, we have invited Scott Steilen to join the Land Trust Board.”
“Every acre we conserve means more trees, fewer cars, and less stress on island infrastructure,” said Pope. “We are at an inflection point on St. Simons. We want to look back with pride at what we did and not regret what we did not do. This extraordinary support from The Anschutz Foundation is exactly what was needed to ensure success, and we are genuinely grateful to the Anschutz family for this generous, game-changing gift and challenge.”
The Land Trust will be announcing additional acquisitions, from the south end to the north end of the island. According to Pope, “some parcels are quite large, and some are small,” but all are hugely important to the island’s future.