Cannon's Point Preserve Five-Year Anniversary Celebration Highlights
The Cannon's Point Preserve Five-Year Anniversary Celebration Was a Hit!
And a little rain and wind didn't stop the fun! We had a full morning of activities, presentations, and learning experiences to mark Cannon's Point Preserve's 5th anniversary, and couldn't have done it without so many of you.
Special thanks to our partners and volunteers for sharing their time and knowledge about the history and ecology of CPP and for showcasing the incredible research taking place inside the Preserve. Thank you also to our supporters and community members for choosing to spend a Saturday morning with us as we learned about living shorelines and their saltmarsh dwellers, the importance of snakes in coastal habitats, the diet and life of Native Americans along our coast, and the process of restoring maritime forests in Georgia.
Please read below for additional information about this day of celebrating coastal conservation.
A warm, westerly wind blew through the draped Spanish moss and feathery, pink muhly grass inviting visitors who began arriving before 8:30 AM to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Cannon's Point Preserve. Once settled underneath the shelter of the Georgia-Pacific Education Pavilion, Preserve Manager Stephanie Knox welcomed guests and introduced CPP Conservation Task Force member Jan Mackinnon.
Jan, the Program Manager for Coastal and Ocean Management with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR), spoke about the importance and structure of living shorlines. She shared that although erosion control is thought to be the main purpose of living shoreline implementation, it's the restoration of oyster communities that matters most. With the major work completed in 2015, Cannon's Point Preserve is the 4th living shoreline project conducted by DNR on the Georgia coast. Describing CPP as one of the coast's "best kept secrets", Jan is grateful that visitors to the Preserve can see the positive impacts of a living shoreline for themselves.
Guests donned rain jackets and made their way down, where Jan was able to point out some of the important features of CPP's living shoreline, including how it protets inland property against storm surge.
Next up was marsh and lab fun with Susan Shipman, chair of the Cannon's Point Preserve Conservation Task Force, and Adam Mackinnon, a marine biologist and education coordinator for the Sapelo Island National Research Reserve and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He is also a member of the CPP Education Task Force. Adam and Susan teamed up to give a glimpse of what lives beneath the dock by collecting blue crabs, hermit crabs, and a diversity of plankton. And with the help of an underwater microphone, guests were able to hear the clicking claws of the shrimp below!
Inside the Coastal Ecology Lab, microscopes were set up to view many of the tiny, planktonic organisms too small for the naked eye. And guests had an up-close look at many of the collected specimen inside a saltwater aquarium.
Back inside the Education Pavilion, Dr. Kimberly Andrews, faculty at the University of Georgia, and her assistant Oscar carried out an interactive snake presentation centered around coastal Georgia snake species. Dr. Andrews discussed the importance of snakes in their natural environment and the differences between many of them, including venomous and non-venomous species. She also shared reasons to revere snakes instead of fearing them. Throughout the presentation, more than five live snakes (and a guest alligator) were shared with all in attendance!
Next, History and Archaeology Task Force member Myrna Crook and Georgia Southern University graduate student Scott Clark set up a beautiful archaeological display with artifacts from Native American pottery and faunal remains.
Scott presented his research at Cannon's Point Preserve and what he's learned about Native American life and diet on the CPP peninsula. He touched on their artistic pottery and the many small fish and terrapin turtles that made up their diet. Scott joked about the tediousness of using a fine-meshed screen to locate over 30,000 pieces of animal remains, but reminded us that every one of those pieces helps to tell the bigger story of Native American life at Cannon's Point Preserve.
To cap off the day and allow visitors to truly see the impact of maritime forest restoration at CPP, Dr. Owen Burney led a group of hardy supporters from the Education Pavilion to a nearby research plot in the pouring rain.
Along the way, Dr. Burney discussed the plant species that inhabit a maritime forest, why they are critical to our coastal areas, and how the restoration process of these forests begins. He shared the details of four different phases of restoration that have taken place at Cannon's Point Preserve and how this research was some of the first of its kind! By taking visitors out into the plot, Dr. Burney was able to show the dramatic difference between the successes of live oak seedlings protected and unprotected from deer browse. He indicated how all four restoration experiments are providing data that will better assist land managers in successfully restoring maritime forests on their properties.