Dear Friends,

The very best Christmas ever was not one sitting by a roaring fire at a ski lodge or soaking in the sun at a five-star hotel in the Caribbean. Rather, it was the one where we drove late into the night from Atlanta to St. Simons, arriving long after all the stores were closed on Christmas Eve. The only thing open at that hour was a quick serve on Demere near Arnold Road that we passed on the way to the King and Prince. My husband ran into the store, bought a pint of milk, some Cokes, and the last standing Christmas tree. Or what had BEEN a Christmas tree weeks earlier. He bought it for a dollar (it had been marked down to $2), and we dragged that poor shedding fir into the rented condo.
Our young daughter and I cut circles and triangles from a cardboard box and painted them with an old set of watercolors. We shredded the red plastic bag that the milk and Coca-Colas had come in, and we strung the strips of plastic on the tree along with the "ornaments," shells, pine cones, and a few things she had made at Montessori. Granted, when you're staying at a lovely resort and have the means to get there, it's absurd to claim that it was a humble Christmas. But it was simple and sweet -- almost no gifts, a Charlie Brown tree, and we three.

I have trouble remembering most other Christmases, and I sure can't remember all those presents worried over, bought, wrapped, given, and received over the years. This one late arrival on St. Simons, though, even without being airbrushed by nostalgia, is one of the most memorable holidays of our lives. It is most akin to what so many of us have been yearning for these last many months -- stillness, quiet, closeness, kindness -- surrounded not by things but by loved ones and nature.

All of us at the Land Trust hope that your holidays, no matter how elaborate or simple, are filled with joy and love and memorable moments. And we send sincerest thanks for being our partners in conserving this spit of land between marsh and sea that we call home.

A postscript: When we got ready to return reluctantly to the city that December, after hauling what was left of our tree to the dumpster, we tried to sweep up the thousands of needles that had fallen onto the carpet and into the crevices of the threshold at the front door. My very late apologies to the King and Prince, whose housekeeping crews are probably vacuuming those needles still.

Stay safe and well, and happiest of holidays to you all!
Emily Ellison
Executive Director
Last month the Land Trust closed on an environmentally significant piece of property most of us assumed we would never be able to buy. The nearly 39 acres that were once part of the Sinclair Plantation had been on the market for a number of years at a per-acre price that was out of reach.

But finally, after many months of negotiations, and with the generous assistance from a group of conservation-minded residents, we were able to close on this stunning parcel of land that includes maritime forests, important habitat, and a 10-acre freshwater lake.

The Sinclair tract is part of Phase II of The Canopy Campaign (the first phase was launched and completed in 2018). This phase has a $5.5 million goal that will help the Land Trust pay for the Sinclair parcel as well as completing the purchases of three tracts of land that are contiguous with Cannon's Point Preserve. Before launching Phase II of the campaign, $3 million were pledged as a challenge to the community to help us reach our $5.5 million goal, with every new contribution being matched dollar-for-dollar.
Currently, we have raised $3.868 million toward our total goal.

We hope that you will consider joining in this community-wide investment to conserve some of the last large tracts of undeveloped land on St. Simons.
To learn more about the Sinclair property, please click HERE.
Or, to read more about the campaign, its purpose and goals, and how you can participate, please contact Emily Ellison at 912-638-9109 or

And be sure to read HERE why syndicated columnist Richard Yarbrough believes
St. Simons' preservation is important to all Georgians.
The Land Trust Alliance released a new report finding that 61 million acres were conserved by land trusts as of year-end 2020 — an increase of 15 million acres since 2010! 

This dramatic increase in land conservation shows that the land trust community is gaining ground nationally and locally. With 1.1 million acres conserved in Georgia, the St. Simons Land Trust is playing a key role in the land trust movement. 

2020 was also a landmark year for public visitations to the nation’s land trusts. In a time of crisis, land trusts provided a place for 16.7 million individuals to safely gather, exercise, and find moments of peace.

To learn more about the 2020 Census, please click HERE.
SSLT Featured on New "Find a Land Trust"

The Land Trust Alliance has also enhanced Find a Land Trust, a powerful online, geolocation-based search tool. The search engine makes it easy for anyone across the country to locate the land trust nearest them. This includes a new page for the St. Simons Land Trust! People across the country will be able to visit our profile to learn more about this organization and the important lands that you have helped to protect. View it HERE
First grade students from St. Simons Elementary at Cannon's Point Preserve
Photos courtesy of St. Simons Elementary
The work of getting people on Land Trust properties, and using those lands as platforms for education, was never more satisfying than when nearly 70 first graders from St. Simons Elementary spent a few hours at Cannon's Point Preserve recently. Led by naturalists and educators, the students explored plants and animals in different habitats and learned about the environmental importance of a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem. Special thanks to the school's Ocean Lab Instructor (and a member of our CPP Education Task Force), Brooke Vallaster, and all the accompanying teachers, parents, and volunteers for sharing the beauty and importance of protected land with the children of this community!

Read more about this fun day HERE.
Rather than highlight an individual volunteer in our end-of-year E-newsletter, the Land Trust team wants to highlight ALL its incredibly passionate and hard-working volunteers (and there are so many more not pictured here).

Without the support of our army of volunteers, who offer their time, knowledge, and skills, we would not be able to keep Cannon's Point Preserve open to the public or properly manage the many other properties in our trust. And we certainly wouldn't be able to put on an annual event like our upcoming Oyster Roast, with an anticipated 1,300 or more members of the community coming together to celebrate the cuisine and the natural beauty of the Golden Isles.

to this wonderful group of 200+ people
who deeply value the preservation of St. Simons Island!

To become a member of the dedicated family of SSLT Volunteers,
please sign up HERE or email Marty Moody at

Oyster Roast photo by Chris Moncus Photography
In November, we proudly welcomed our newest Pennies for Preservation partner, The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, a MMI Hotel Group property, that is helping protect and preserve St. Simons Island. This partnership continues The King and Prince’s ongoing commitment to traditions that align with the Land Trust’s mission to preserve the long-cherished natural beauty and scenic character of the island.
The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort participates in the program by including a voluntary donation of one dollar per each night’s stay. The entirety of program donations continue to go directly to preserving a wilderness corridor on the north-end of St. Simons and will protect in perpetuity the unique ecosystems of the island that include live oakspinespalmetto, and other indigenous coastal plants.
“For decades, the King and Prince has not only been a landmark destination for visitors to Georgia’s coast, but it has also been a memory-filled spot for St. Simons’ residents. From weddings to anniversary dinners, from Mother’s Day brunch to gatherings by the pool, the King and Prince is a beloved pillar of this community. It is one of the many reasons that we are honored that the resort is a partner in our Pennies for Preservation program,” added Emily Ellison, ED of the St. Simons Land Trust.

Thank you Bart Johnson, the entire King and Prince Resort team, and their guests
for helping to protect 70 acres at Oatland North.
Click HERE to read more about
this "royal" partnership
in Golden Isles Magazine.
Let's Keep it Local!

Please remember to continue supporting our Golden Isles businesses
and the Land Trust's dedicated Pennies for Preservation partners.
Pennies for Preservation businesses raise funds to preserve and protect St. Simons Island.
Participating businesses raise contributions by either:

1) Collecting a voluntary 1% or specific dollar amount donation from their
customers' receipts/invoices.
2) Donating 1% of their companies' proceeds or services.
Thank you to all participating Pennies for Preservation businesses,
their teams, and their patrons!
December 25-27 -- Cannon's Point Preserve is OPEN

January 1-3 -- Cannon's Point Preserve is OPEN

January 22, 2022 -- SSLT annual OYSTER ROAST, Gascoigne Bluff Park, SSI, featuring nationally-known singer songwriter Dallas Davidson. Purchase tickets HERE.

Photo courtesy of Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau
Photo by Chris Moncus Photography