The Brunswick News put up a story, obviously already delayed because the Board of Assessors had already decided to cave on October 16th, at 12:00 AM on the 20th and then pulled it. But not before an alert reader grabbed a screen shot to share the tale of the intrepid retired Riverkeeper with anyone who might be interested in what our children are taught at that eleemosynary enclave known as Cannon’s Point.
Former Riverkeeper questions hunts at Cannon’s Point
Posted: Monday, October 20, 2014 12:00 am
By MICHAEL HALL The Brunswick News | 0 comments
Posted on Oct 20, 2014
by Michael Hall
A former Altamaha Riverkeeper who has taken on the role of environmental watchdog says the St. Simons Land Trust profited from two quota hunts last deer hunting season at Cannon’s Point Preserve and plans to continue the practice in the future.
The land trust’s executive director said Wednesday that his organization has not made a single penny off of the limited hunts and has no plans of doing so. He said the Department of Natural Resources hunts are necessary to control a growing herd of deer that has become overpopulated.
James Holland claims that the land trust is overstepping its role as a conservation organization and has essentially formed a private hunting club for its members and donors by allowing small groups of people to hunt 400 acres of wilderness area on the 600 acre preserve during a few days of the hunting season.
He said the land trust opened the hunt to its members and major donors, essentially creating a hunting club on a plot of land that is the only place deer on the north end of St. Simons Island can go. Holland also does not like that one of the two hunts that have happened so far was opened to parents and their children.
“The preserve is more or less a trap,” Holland said. “I can’t agree with it in any form or fashion. My problem is they are doing it for profit. There are better ways to control a small herd like that.”
He believes sterilization is a preferred method to controlling deer herds in areas where developments are nearby.
Holland’s strong feelings on the matter prompted him to buy a full page advertisement in The News earlier this week with photos animals and the words “We were not invited to the St. Simons Land Trust grand opening of Cannon’s Point. Do you know where your donor dollars are going?”
Ben Slade, executive director of the land trust, said Holland is off base about his assumption that his organization is profiting from the hunts.
“We didn’t change anything and it was run by volunteers with the DNR and our staff,” Slade said.
Slade said the deer population at Cannon’s Point is around 100 per square mile, a number that DNR has said is higher than what is recommended for a healthy herd.
He said the preserve’s conservation easement through the Nature Conservancy and the accompanying 52-page ecological management plan provide guidelines and protocol for managing species, habitat and structures and outlines rules for human use and traffic. The management plan specifically calls for managed hunts to maintain a healthy deer population.
During last deer season, two managed quota hunts harvested just 14 deer. At the first hunt, the land trust invited donors who helped the organization purchase the Cannon’s Point property to enter the lottery first.
“It was just good manners,” Slade said, not an ongoing perk for members who support the organization. “We have 2,000 members, some who contribute as little as $25.”
Participants in the second hunt were chosen from a lottery that included parents and their children as a learning experience. No deer were bagged during that hunt.
At both hunts, DNR volunteers and land trust staff were on hand to ensure things went as planned.
Holland said he is convinced money is being made off of the hunts and hopes the Glynn County Board of Assessors is willing to take away the property’s tax exempt status so that the land trust will have to pay taxes on the 600 acre preserve.
Slade said he is confident everything is in order with the Secretary of State and that the preserve’s tax exempt status will be maintained.
The issue is scheduled to be discussed at a board of assessors meeting today.
Reporter Michael Hall writes about public safety, environment and other local topics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 320.
True, it’s not a perk for all members. The spouse joined up and made a contribution and we didn’t get invited to even participate in the lottery, or whatever. Must be some kind of special treat.
Mr. Holland responds:
I think I read in an earlier article that there are only 80 deer per square mile on Cannon’s Point. If teaching children to kill anything they have greatly over stepped their boundary in the world of conservation and as a non profit. Mr. Slade said they did not make a single penny from these deer hunts. How does he know that, if the land trust is like most other charitable organizations and went into the general fund to remain there until spent. Did they keep count of all the volunteers used in this effort on Cannon’s Point? If they did, did they not benefit from that rather than hiring outsiders to do this work, of course they showed a profit!
I am and have been a friend of and to The Nature Conservancy for a lot of years and I find it very difficult to believe that they do not have misgivings about teaching children to kill wildlife.
In the future the land trust and Cannon’s Point will be involved in profit making schemes like tours by Sea Island Acquisitions and when they allow canoe/kayak outfitters to use the new dock if it gets permitted, are the canoe/kayak out fitters going to do this out of the kindness of their heart, I don’t think so. It is my understanding that some of these outfitters may already be advertising this facility.
Not only that but as of lately I am hearing rumbles of the new canoe/kayak dock not being fitted for disabled persons that still can canoe or kayak with the proper facilities. Come on Land Trust, let’s be fair to all our citizens, why isn’t this dock suitable for folks that do not have use of 100% of their body. And no, I do not like what is about to take place on Cannon’s Point and given the gift of free speech I am expressing my right to use it. James Holland, Run down, retired old Riverkeeper®
This article apparently was posted and then got pulled but we have a friend in Atlanta that gets up early, early and monitors the news.