Update: Burke County Nature Preserve

July 31, 2020

Burke County (Georgia) Nature Preserve

Today STPAL finalized a contract to plant an additional 70 acres with long leaf pine seedlings at Burke County Nature Preserve. The planting will occur in spring of 2021. This will be the third consecutive year of planting.

For more information:


STPAL Mid-Year Report 2020

STPAL Mid-Year Report July 20, 2020

General Position of Organization

  • The organization is stable and feeling fine.
  • 2020 and 2021 projects are emerging from the Covid-19 pause. Momentum and interest for STPAL’s mission seems to be at an all-time high. Public access to nature is needed more than ever!
  • The first 2 months of consultant Victoria Previtt’s engagement have been beneficial and encouraging. She is providing leadership for our core internal priorities.
  • Finances are strong highlighted by a small land sale completed in July 2020. It is a core strategy of STPAL to self-fund operations to foster organizational financial stability. We sold 24.3 acres out of an initial 850-acre site netting enough funds for +/- 3 years of operational overhead expenses. This allows STPAL to allocate all other funding sources directly to mission work. www.stpal.org/donate

2020 Top Internal Priorities

  • Establish processes for fundraising including individuals, corporations, foundations, and government grants
  • Board development including board member engagement, strategic recruitment of new members, and increased board impact on organization
  • Improve and activate STPAL’s mission storytelling
  • STPAL has a GuideStar Silver Seal of Transparency with a 2020 goal for Gold status. This gives the organization a high level of credibility and builds public trust.

2020 Top Mission Priorities and Updates

  • Bald Mountain Creek Nature Preserve (Western NC): Approved for a grant of $10,295.84 from the USDA Equip program for a 16-acre habitat enhancement project for the threatened Golden Wing Warbler. The site has past observations of nesting pairs of GWW. Project is in partnership with the Audubon Society. Also preparing for an upcoming major rehab project of the site’s 6+ mile hiking trail system.
  • Burke County (GA) Nature Preserve: Plant 50 acres long leaf pine (completed as of March 2020), add STPAL sign at entrance, pollinator gardens refresh, moving forward with summer prep work to plant an additional 50+ acres of long leaf pine in spring 2021.
  • Campbellton Creek Nature Preserve (South Fulton, GA): Applying to rezone to AG per City’s requirement. Applying for grant funding for habitat and forest restoration projects. Finishing new trail system flagging and delineating parking and community areas.
  • Cannongate Nature Preserve (Coweta County GA): Established local leadership for launch of friends group. Applying for small grants to fund parking area, trails, priority habitat projects, and nature education elements.
  • Jan Hill Lane Nature Preserve (DeKalb County GA): Public use is strong. Invasive weeds are also strong. Main current goal is non-native plant control (mechanical, non-poison) leading to planting native species this fall.
  • Pumpkinvine Creek Nature Preserve (Paulding County, GA): Park planning and initial due diligence beginning.
  • Sassafras Nature Preserve (Gilmer County, GA): Major effort underway to create Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program grant application for a massive project including 40+ miles of hiking and biking trails. Full report to follow in early August.
  • Turnipseed Nature Preserve (Douglas County, GA): Trash trap installed on Annewakee Creek where it enters the preserve. Project is in partnership with Chattahoochee Riverkeeper with funding from Google.

Trash trap installed at Turnipseed Nature Preserve!

June 06, 2020

Something good happened today!

We appreciate the efforts of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Osprey Initiative with funding from Google. Today they installed and will maintain a buoy and drop net trash trap just after Annawakee Creek enters STPAL’s 287 acre Turnipseed Nature Preserve property in Douglas County, Georgia. Annawakee Creek flows into the Chattahoochee River about 5 miles from the preserve and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachicola Bay.

For more information about trash traps: https://chattahoochee.org/our-work/in-stream-trash-removal/

Peace in nature

With apologies to the Beatles: When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Nature comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom. Let it be. Let it be.

Mission Statement: Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land makes use of natural land to foster natural land conservation; environmental stewardship; science education and research; and public recreation for the benefit of individuals and communities.

In times of trouble look for peace in nature.

A red bird visiting on a sad anniversary.

A cool breeze during an uphill hike in July.

A wildflower’s bloom in an unexpected place.

A deer that pauses to share a moment before continuing its foraging.

The quiet of a forest.

The noise of a mountain stream.

These things bring us closer to home when we find ourselves in times of trouble.

If you are interested in volunteering; info@stpal.org

If you are interested in supporting our mission: https://stpal.org/donate/

Happy Trails!

Talking rock nature preserve has Reopened

As of May 1st Talking Rock Nature Preserve has reopened for public use. It is a nature preserve as it’s first priority and is not meant for heavy recreational use. Our reason for reopening is for local hikers and mtn bikers to be able to stay local. We encourage everyone to use their local recreation opportunities. Stay home or at least stay close to home. If you arrive at TRNP and it is crowded or even close to being crowded please leave and come back at another time. Respect other park users and their social distancing efforts. Be kind, respectful, and accommodating.

COVID19 Announcement

March 26, 2020

All STPAL sites are closed for public usage until STAY AT HOME directives end. It is unfortunate as this seems like the perfect time to get outside and enjoy nature. We initially hoped to remain open, but reevaluated after seeing reports of other outdoor recreation sites being too crowded for safe social distancing.

STPAL Update 02/08/2020

  • STPAL 2019 land acquisitions:
    • 18 acre Cannongate Nature Preserve in Coweta County GA. It will have a parking area and +/- 2 mile loop bike/hike trail for public usage established in the first half of 2020. https://stpal.org/properties/cannongate-nature-preserve/
    • 35 acre Staraland Nature Preserve in Cherokee County GA. It’s conservation values are exceptionally high. Current priority is working to acquire contiguous and nearby tracts to expand the nature preserve. https://stpal.org/properties/staraland-nature-preserve/
    • Both tracts are now permanently conserved creating much needed natural land protection and active environmental stewardship in suburban Atlanta.
  • 80 acre Campbellton Creek Nature Preserve project in the City of South Fulton GA is heading quickly towards breaking ground with phase 1 consisting of 3 miles of hike/bike trails expected to open by the end of 2020. This site is very close to Fulton Industrial Parkway and SW City of Atlanta. http://campbellton-creek-nature-preserve
  • With support from IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) STPAL hosted a public meeting attended by about 60 interested people on February 1st to launch the Friends of Sassafras group for the 1,025 acre Sassafras Nature Preserve project in Gilmer County, GA. This ambitious project is 2-3 years from beginning the bulk of the park creation. It will require much more planning and money than our typical projects.
  • There will a planting of another 25,000+ long-leaf pine seedlings at Burke County Nature Preserve (near Augusta GA) in February or March. This 354 acre environmental restoration project is the conversion of fallow pasture land into native habitat. Passive public recreation and educational elements will be established over time.https://stpal.org/2019/05/13/burke-county-natural-land-restoration-project-update/
  • .4 acre Jan Hill Lane Nature Preserve in the north Druid Hills area of Atlanta had a walking path and other park elements established in 2019. It was STPAL’s first urban small parcel acquisition and a model for additional similar projects. It provides important public green space in a heavily developed area. Bird supportive elements will be added in 2020. A dog waste station and initial signage will be installed in February.
  • Environmental stewardship has become the primary focus at 210 acre Talking Rock Nature Preserve following the successful creation of 10 miles of hike/bike trails. In 2019 we completed the design and installation of educational signage along with a chimney swift tower using funding from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. http://talking-rock-nature-preserve-2019-chimney-swift-tower-and-nature-education-signage-project-completed
  • STPAL’s primary park building efforts will be focused on the I-85 corridor south from Atlanta for the next +/- 2 years. This provides efficiencies in travel and partnerships. We have 5 ongoing or pending projects that make a nice geographical line: Campbellton Creek NP, Cannongate NP, City of Newnan, Sweetwater Pines NP (near Callaway Gardens), and West Point Lake NP.

  • In early January 2020 STPAL completed a full IRS audit of our 2017 financials. The agent closed the case with only one trivial issue found, no action needed, and stated appreciation for STPAL’s recordkeeping and processes. STPAL has always and will continue having our financials independently and fully audited annually by a CPA firm that specializes in non-profit auditing. This made the IRS audit as painless as an IRS audit can be.
  • STPAL’s accounting and other internal processes are humming along allowing for mission related efforts to increase.
  • Organizational funding is stable. Establishing fundraising processes leading to creation of an endowment fund for long term stability is a primary objective of 2020.
  • STPAL and our projects have become attractive to grant funders. We have increased our grant applications and in 2019 received funding for specific projects via private and government grants.
  • STPAL’s Board of Directors’ priorities are near and long term staffing strategies, board development, and updating the strategic plan.
  • STPAL is starting its 9th year. Time flies.

Gum Branch Nature Preserve

In 2017 Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land donated 326 acre Gum Branch Nature Preserve to Camden (County, GA) Public Service Authority (PSA) and in 2019 STPAL donated an additional 33 acre contiguous tract. Gum Branch Nature Preserve is perpetually conserved natural land within the King’s Bay zone of far SE Georgia. It sits a few miles west of St. Mary’s and Cumberland Island. It is in the upper reaches of Gum Branch, which is a meandering branch flowing generally eastward to waters of the Crooked River and Cumberland Sound. It originally was composed of flatwoods type long-leaf and slash pine forest with heavy blueberry and gallberry under-story. Interspersed with this type would have been open pine, wet savanna, hardwood areas containing various bays, oaks, and gums, and stream-side cypress, gum, oak, and maple swamp. The north boundary coincides with Laurel Island Parkway, which is a heavily traveled access to Kings Bay Navy Base.

These photos are current (January 2020) and reflect the PSA’s progress establishing Gum Branch Nature Preserve’s public recreation functions. Plans include hard surface bike and ped trail, natural surface trails, and disc golf course. STPAL is proud to have played a part in the creation of this new public park and look forward to it being open for use.

Talking Rock Nature Preserve 2019 chimney swift tower & nature education signage project

December 28, 2019

Funding for Chimney Swift Tower and Educational Signage provided by:
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Action Plan. Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan is a comprehensive strategy to conserve native species and the habitats they need before these animals, plants and places become more rare and costly to conserve or restore.

Click here for details and pictures: 2019 chimney swift tower and educational signage projects, Talking Rock Nature Preserve

Cannongate Nature Preserve created following donation of natural land to STPAL

December 27, 2019

Great news! The Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land received the donation of 18.5 acres of natural land now known as Cannongate Nature Preserve. The property is in Coweta County, GA. It will forever remain natural and be beneficial to the public.

Property details:

Cannongate Nature Preserve