Agreement Would Expand Historic Fort Site (GA)

Darien, 7/22/02 – Darien Mayor David Bluestein and McIntosh County Attorney Adam Poppell today announced an agreement with the Trust for Public Land (TPL) that would transfer the 10.1 acres of land adjoining Fort King George to the TPL to hold for the expansion of the Fort.

Bluestein and Poppell acquired this property a year ago as the result of their involvement with the Friends of Fort King George, a local chapter of the Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites (FGSP), when developers were aggressively pursuing this last piece of buffer land protecting the Fort. TPL will close on the property October 31, 2002 and hold the land until local fundraising efforts generate enough money to supplement the state funds necessary to purchase the property for Fort King George.

“The property is pristine, unsurpassed in the area in beauty, a mixture of sturdy live oaks and an oak/pine forest,” says Ken Adkins, the site manager of Fort King George. “Without this land, we will have development right at our doorstep.”

The endangered 10.1 acres of land are historically significant as artifacts suggest that a Confederate encampment site was once located on the property. After a year of personally paying taxes and interest to finance their acquisition on the land, Bluestein and Poppell encouraged the Friends of the Fort to seek additional assistance in fund raising efforts to secure the property. The Friends of Fort King George, with the assistance of the FGSP, contacted the Coastal Georgia Land Trust in Savannah who in turn requested that the TPL become involved.

“When our office learned of this situation,” says Bill Rodgers, director of the Coastal Georgia Land Trust, “I knew that something needed to be done, and done quickly.”

Rodgers immediately contacted the TPL and jointly met with local officials, Department of Natural Resources Division of State Park and Historic Site officials, and FGSP representatives to determine the best course of action. This critical meeting resulted in the TPL agreeing to acquire the property and establish a fundraising plan.

Says TPL State Director Russell Marane: “The Trust for Public Land works on projects just like this all over the United States, we are happy to assist the Friends of the Fort in preserving this important piece of land.”

This afternoon, Marane thanked Bluestein and Poppell for recognizing the significance of the land and taking a personal interest in preserving the property.

“This site is an important asset to Fort King George with a tremendous amount of historic and archaeological significance,” Marane says. “The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks and Historic Sites recognizes this and asked us to step in to help acquire the property. Without the quick response of Bluestein and Poppell, and the commitment of the Friends of Fort King George, this important piece of Georgia history may have been lost forever.”

To complete the transfer of the property for development, the Friends of Fort King George need to raise $130,000 for the local share of the cost of the property. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has already committed a 50 percent match toward the land. The Friends of Fort King George will be assisted by the FGSP; the Coastal Georgia Land Trust in Savannah, who will participate in local fundraising efforts; and the TPL who, in addition to holding the land, will assist in raising funds from statewide foundations. The Friends of Fort King George President, Adam Poppell, indicated that the goal of $130,000 is ambitious but achievable.

“It will require the hard work of our membership, fortunately we will have the support of our state organization, the Coastal Georgia Land Trust in Savannah, and the Trust for Public Land” he says. “When the state acquires this property, the facilities that can be added to the Fort will enhance the attractiveness of the facility and offer our community and its residents a place to gather.”

Fundraising efforts are already underway. A brochure has been prepared by the Trust for Public Land and was presented today at an organizational meeting lead by Don Stahl, the head of fundraising and development for the Coastal Georgia Land Trust.

Also assisting with the local fundraising effort is Better Hometown Community Director Karen Moore who has been involved in the effort to enhance Fort King George for several years.

People interested in making a contribution to this community effort may contact the Friends of Fort King George at 1-888-948-2092.