Jekyll Island wants to make improvements to help environment around Horton Pond
The Brunswick News
By SARAH LUNDGREN
April 07, 2014

With no sign to mark what's beyond the little dirt road off Beachview Drive on Jekyll Island, few people know about Horton Pond.

Sitting quietly at the end of a service road, the almost 2-acre pond looks virtually untouched by humans.

A closer look tells a different story. Litter is strewn near the water and tire tread marks are visible in the grass
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A "Don't Feed the Animals" sign is often disregarded. Visitors do it anyway, officials with the Jekyll Island Authority lament.

Ben Carswell, conservation director with the Jekyll Island Authority, Dion Davis, executive director of the Jekyll Island Foundation, and other conservationists are trying to stem what they see as a blatant disrespect for the natural beauty of Horton Pond.

The foundation is raising funds to make various improvements at Horton Pond that it hopes will help protect the natural habitat and make the spot a better experience for visitors.

"The first intent is to better the natural habitat, and the second is to provide a space for people that is conducive to being better stewards," Carswell said, surveying the pond Friday.

The pond is healthy, with clearer water than most and an abundance of plant diversity. Jekyll Island Authority and the foundation would like to keep it that way.

Carswell says the large variety of vegetation reflects a healthy ecosystem that contributes to diverse life under the water - turtles, fish and alligators.

One of the alligators removed from the pond for tracking purposes was found to have pieces of shrapnel in its skull and a healed over bullet wound. It's clear to the JIA and conservation supporters that something needs to be done so the vibrant pond can continue to thrive.

Plans include creating five to six parking spots, including one handicap parking space, and moving a gate away from the pond so people can no longer drive right up to it.

Davis said a turn-about area for larger cars and small buses for educational groups will also be created.

Raccoon-proof trash cans, a .7 mile nature trail with educational signs and a viewing platform will also be added.
A floating platform will be added to the pond where alligators and turtles can bask in the sun and people can view them from a safe distance.

Carswell said they also would like to excavate a land mass to separate it from a part of the maritime forest that surrounds the pond. By creating an island, they might be able to create a safer habitat for nesting birds that seek to keep their eggs away from marauding raccoons.
Another $10,000 is needed to make it happen, Davis said.

The entire project will cost an estimated $40,000.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com or at 265-8320, ext. 322.