insults to nature

How does that happen? Mostly, it’s the result of a mixture of hubris and inadvertence. Humans, stuck on themselves, think they know it all. Others are convinced “all it takes is the idea” (the ExxonMobil slogan) and, as it was in the beginning, man says the word and nature is obedient.

Fortunately, the age of electronics has made it possible to virtually eliminate inadvertence. We can look ahead and simulate what will happen, if we repeat the mistakes of the past. That’s what James Holland is doing with the various projects at Cannon’s Point in the marshes on the coast of Georgia. Holland is superimposing the planned erection of a monster dock in a little tidal creek to demonstrate how erosion will occur, just as it did before. The only difference is that when the site was a fish camp, people fished for a living. What’s being proposed as the Cannon’s Point Preserve is an eco-park for edu/tainment purposes. That’s where the good intentions come in.



Will be situated something like (just estimate) is shown in my aerial photo. No matter what you may think about “Living Shoreline” restoration what you see in my photo is nothing more than replacing a problem with a problem. If you look in the drawing you will see where the original floating dock was located, it was just outside the drawing in my photo. St. Simons Land Trust says the docks where Taylor Fish Camp used to be in Lawrence Creek caused the damage in the area where they want to place a “living shoreline” as restoration where the old docks harmed this creek. These small tidal creeks where you can not go and come on low tide are not suitable for docks. These type creeks are too narrow and shallow to support obstructions such as docks, with or without a floating dock. It is not clear to me why the land trust is doing this, but I am putting my bets on the harm will continue with the new dock in place. The land trust documents show that the floating dock will extend 3/5ths of the way across the creek at low tide. All the marsh wrack in that creek is now singing “looking for a home and one is coming”. — JH (from

(Hannah Smith)

The Saint Simons Land Trust people are big on management and proud of it. That’s what “offering the community limited access” means. If the ecology and the history are to be protected, people have to be restricted. Can’t have people, especially people with children, wandering about willy nilly. Which is probably why some lucky winners of a lottery were invited to bring in their kids and hunt the deer, under the supervision, of course, of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Having been adjudged too numerous, the wild herd needs to be thinned.

Our local paper, The Brunswick News, interviewed Mr. Holland, whose ad had caused quite a stir, and published the story in the dead of night, but then withdrew it, but not before some early risers had got ahold of it.

It wasn’t a one-sided story. The St. Simons Land Trust got to explain its eleemosynary intent.

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.

Management. That’s the ticket. It’s a mistake to think that the Department of Natural Resources serves the interests of Mother Nature and the wild things in her domain. No, the mission of the DNR is to manage and maintain order and that includes people. Which explains, for another example, why our little marsh rivers are becoming littered with docks.

(Google Earth)
(Google Earth)

The Georgia legislature has, in its wisdom, granted individual property owners the option to erect docks in state waters, as long as they own the banks, as many of the homeowners on Dunbar Creek apparently do. Though not all. The red line in the image from the county’s property maps (which all 159 Georgia counties have available online) indicates ownership by an indulgent corporate entity. Why the DNR countenances this kind of “poaching” is a puzzlement, since it makes it virtually impossible to prohibit construction that’s inappropriate (interferes with traffic in the waterway or damages the marsh).

(Glynn County GIS)
(Glynn County GIS)

In addition to wanting to call attention to this public information resource that’s available in Georgia and likely other states, I’m posting these images because the proposed building of a dock off Cannon’s Point is doubly questionable, aside from being inappropriate for such a small body of water. The first reason it’s questionable is because, unlike other docks in the area, the one proposed by the Land Trust would not be serving an individual property owner or household. And the second reason is that the marsh and creek slated to be disrupted don’t even belong to the Land Trust. As is their won’t, the Sea Island people sold off the high land (for twenty five million dollars) and kept the 1264 acres of surrounding marsh (appraised at a mere fifty thousand dollars) for themselves. (Imagine owning more than twelve hundred acres and paying just $415 in tax!)

(James Holland)
(James Holland)

I suspect one of the reasons Google Earth is so popular is because things on the ground almost invariably look attractive from up high. That’s certainly true of most of the pictures James Holland takes of the machines in the garden and the offensive monsters in the marshes. However, this one seems to be an exception. It’s not a pretty picture.

Our governmental agencies are well practiced at redefining insults to nature by virtue of their good intentions, so whether or not these frivolous man-made obstructions are illegal or unlawful is largely irrelevant. They’re the useless and carelessly intrusive signature of vandals.

“Killjoy was Here” is what they announce.

We should make such erections socially unacceptable — a fad we can do without.

“Machines in the Garden” and “Monsters in the Marsh”  Evidently, Adam still hasn’t learned from being expelled from the Garden of Eden and, unable to keep his hands to himself, still has to be expelled from the likes of the Marshes of Glynn.


Editor's Note: This story also appears at HuffPo. The feature photo is a composite photo created by for this story using Hannah's photo and some public domain hell fire.

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."