Nestled along the Georgia coastline, the Ceylon Wildlife Management Area features a pristine and extraordinary mix of salt marsh, maritime forest, and fire-adapted longleaf pine habitats enjoyed by birders, hikers, hunters, and fishermen. Yet not long ago, the future of this magnificent place was completely in doubt.
Once highly threatened by resort, residential, and commercial development, these 16,000 acres were, until late 2019, the state’s largest undeveloped, unprotected Atlantic coastline property. That is, until the Open Space Institute — with support of the Wyss Foundation — and The Conservation Fund stepped up to protect the property, enabling creation of the Wildlife Management Area in early 2020.
Safeguarding a keystone species
Not only does the vast, uninterrupted size of the Ceylon property make it a must-see for local recreationists, it also creates the ideal home for one very special creature.
With wise eyes and scaly, shovel-like front legs, the Gopher tortoise is a keystone species whose burrows provide shelter for approximately 350 other wildlife species. More than 2,000 individual tortoises live on the property — whose conservation has brought the state’s long-term Gopher tortoise protection goals to 90 percent completion.