NOW More Than Ever Is the Time to Join IPJI!

IPJI’s ability to affect the future of Jekyll Island State Park is directly related to the size its membership. If you want to have a say in shaping that future, please fill out IPJI's membership form. IPJI membership is free!

Jekyll Island State Park needs your support!

Help Protect Jekyll Island State Park: Donate to IPJI

The Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island State Park is a registered 501c4 non-profit organization. Unlike most non-profit groups, however, IPJI does not charge an annual fee for membership but rather is solely dependent on donations from its supporters to fund its various operations. While we’ve been able to keep costs relatively low by having an all-volunteer staff, we are still very much in need of your financial support to maximize the reach and effectiveness of our efforts on Jekyll’s behalf.

Donations to the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island State Park—100% of which go to furthering the organization’s mission—may be made online through PayPal or may be sent by postal mail to The Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island State Park, 308 Old Plantation Road, Jekyll Island, GA 31527, c/o Mindy Egan.

IPJI Establishes Outreach Program

This fall, IPJI will be reaching out to 25 non-profit organizations in Georgia in order to update them on our effort to preserve and protect Jekyll Island State Park and to determine their level of interest in working with IPJI and other groups for the state park’s benefit. To facilitate the outreach program’s goal of broadening public involvement in the effort to preserve/protect Jekyll Island State Park, IPJI will be providing interested organizations with detailed, accurate and timely information about any and all proposals, plans or actions that may affect Jekyll Island State Park, and about how the public can best participate in planning for the state park’s future.

Plans for Redevelopment of the Buccaneer Resort and the Georgia Coast Inn Properties Pushed Back to 2015

Back in February 2011, Trammell Crow, Inc.—the developer holding the lease on the now vacant Buccaneer Resort and Georgia Coast Inn properties—informed the Jekyll Island Authority board that development of the company’s Jekyll properties “will not be economically feasible until the general economy, hospitality and second home markets improve” and until after “the delivery and stabilization” of the two hotels to be built as part of the Jekyll town center project.  According to an announcement made at the September 26 JIA board meeting, Trammell Crow has now agreed to present a written proposal for those properties by March, 2014 and design documents by September, 2015. If Trammell Crow is unable to produce those documents by the dates agreed to, then the JIA has the right to terminate Trammell Crow’s lease by the end of December, 2015.

Jekyll Island Conservation Plan Adopted by JIA Board of Directors

The Jekyll Island State Park Conservation Plan was approved by the JIA's Board of Directors at its August 15, 2011 meeting!   The final plan was significantly influenced by citizen input and, while not perfect, is a document that should serve well its stated goals, namely to, "Preserve, mmaintain, manage, and restore Jekyll Island’s natural communities and species diversity while providing nature-based  educational and recreational opportunities for the general public"


Our thanks go out to all of you who endorsed IPJI’s recommendations regarding the various drafts of the Conservation Plan and who took the time to share their views with the Conservation Plan Committee.  Your involvement was a major factor in making the final product a viable plan for protecting and preserving Jekyll Island State Park's natural resources.

Director of Conservation to Be Hired by Jekyll Island Authority

The Jekyll Island Authority is seeking to fill the newly created position of Director of Conservation, a job which carries with it the responsibility of executing the strategies and acting on the priorities outlined in the recently adopted Jekyll Island State Park Conservation Plan. This exciting and critically important position should attract a number of highly qualified candidates. Whoever is hired will find in IPJI an ally that will help ensure that the ambitious Jekyll Conservation Plan reach its full potential.

For a job summary and list of qualifications for the Director of Conservation, click here.

A Blast from the Past: Press Articles from 1947 on the Founding of Jekyll Island State

Sixty-four years ago this month, Governor Melvin Thompson announced that the state of Georgia had purchased Jekyll Island from a group of northeastern millionaires who had used the island as a private winter retreat. The former “rich man’s paradise” was to become a state park, “a playground belonging to every Georgian,” according to Thompson. He went on to note that the conversion of the island into a state park would enable Georgians to experience the wonders of the coast, whereas previously the public had been able to use only 3 miles out of Georgia’s 140 miles of beaches. Thompson pledged that the state park’s facilities would be affordable for average income Georgians, a commitment enshrined in law with the passage of the 1950 Jekyll Island State Park Authority Act.
Understandably, the founding of Jekyll Island State Park drew considerable attention from the press. For a selection of newspaper articles from October 1947, and for some interesting details regarding the state’s purchase of Jekyll Island, click here.

Jekyll Island: The Nearest Faraway Place

The Jekyll Island Authority has released a coffee table book consisting of scenic images and inspiring narratives portraying Jekyll Island’s natural beauty and magical charm. The book, entitled Jekyll Island: The Nearest Faraway Place,

is available at various venues on Jekyll Island as well as Four dollars from each sale will go to the Jekyll Island Foundation, a non-profit organization that assists the Jekyll Island Authority in the preservation, conservation, and appreciation of Jekyll Island State Park, particularly with respect to historic and natural sites.

Below is the description of Jekyll Island: The Nearest Faraway Place posted on  

Jekyll Island's undisturbed beauty, combined with its pleasant year-round weather and refreshing ocean breezes, provides a breathtaking backdrop for a variety of wonderful experiences. Located midway between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida, Jekyll Island is approximately 5,700 acres and the smallest of Georgia's barrier islands. As a tribute to the Island's allurement, the Jekyll Island Authority has published Jekyll Island The Nearest Faraway Place, a coffee table book recognizing the inspired talent of residents and guests and their ability to capture unique perspectives of our cherished Island. During the period of March through September 2010, a competition was conducted to discover photographs of, and poems about, Jekyll Island. Scenic images and inspiring narratives portraying Jekyll's beach and marsh, sunrise and sunsets, wildlife, nature, historic landmarks, and views from above were sought for inclusion in this project. Submissions included 70 from Georgia, 17 from different states, 4 from Canada and 1 from the United Kingdom. Results of the competition were announced and the winning selections are featured in the commemorative publication. Copyright of the selected works and all rights to publish became property of Jekyll Island Authority. Jekyll Island "The Nearest Faraway Place" is now currently available at the Visitor Information Center, the Commissary, the Jekyll Island Book Store, the Jekyll Island Museum Store, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Hattie's Books in Brunswick.

Photo Reminders of Why We Do What We Do for Jekyll Island State Park: These Images Are Guaranteed to Wow You!!

To warm your heart and stir your spirit, check out the awesome images from Jekyll Island captured by three talented photographers, Dorothy Carswell, Dory Ingram and Greg Lowery. The photos provide a visual manifestation of why so many people feel so strongly about preserving and protecting the traditional character, natural wonders and magical charm of Jekyll Island State Park. Please keep these images in mind as you read the rest of IPJI’s autumn Newsletter.

Jekyll Island Master Plan Update: Your Chance to Help Shape Jekyll’s Future

Preliminary work is underway on the official update of the Jekyll Island State Park Master Plan, which serves as the island’s governing document and the prime source of official policy.

The University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute has been hired by the Jekyll Island Authority (JIA) to handle development of the Update. The Institute, which has experience in community and area development and worked on the 1983 Jekyll Island State Park Master Plan, will, among other tasks, be responsible for organizing public participation in the update process, including statewide surveys of public opinion regarding the future of Jekyll Island State Park. 

The JIA is in the process of forming a Steering Committee for the Master Plan review and has identified task forces to work on specific portions of the Update, including Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure, Environmental Planning, Historic and Cultural Resources, and Sustainability. It is anticipated that the Steering Committee and task forces will include professionals in public land planning along with citizens who have demonstrated a commitment to the protection, preservation and betterment of Jekyll Island State Park.

As an organization devoted to protecting Jekyll’s unique character, preserving the island’s natural wonders, and ensuring a bright future for Georgia’s premier state park, the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island has a keen interest in the agenda for the Master Plan Update. Among the issues that should be part of that agenda, three stand out:

  • The definition of the terms “developed” and “undeveloped” land in relation to the legal requirement that no more than 35% of Jekyll Island can be developed
  • The demarcation of the boundary between upland Jekyll Island and the marshland on the island’s landward side, a step which is necessary in order to accurately calculate Jekyll Island’s land area and, from there, the number of acres eligible for development 
  • The determination of Jekyll Island’s ideal carrying capacity, meaning the extent of development/human activity that the island can handle without diminishing its unique character, wildlife habitats or overall environment

Proper resolution of the four issues outlined above will help secure a bright future for Jekyll Island State Park. This can be achieved by ensuring that the revised Master Plan is consistent with nationally accepted standards for public land planning and for citizen participation in the planning process. To that end, IPJI will be providing its supporters and various non-profit organizations with background information on the issues involved, ongoing news about the Master Plan Update, and guidelines on how the public can participate in the Update process. This is a very important endeavor, folks. Jekyll Island State Park needs your involvement and support!

IPJI to Hold Annual Meeting for Members


  • A “facts and fables” tour of Jekyll’s Historic District led by IPJI board member Greg Lowery, during which he will share some of his extensive knowledge about the Jekyll Island Club and its members. The tour group will meet at 10:00 am in the parking lot next to the Latitude 31 restaurant.  
  • A clean-up of the beach between the boardwalk at Jekyll’s soccer complex and the water tower to the north. IPJI is responsible for monitoring ecosystems and beach activities and for removing litter along that one-mile stretch of beach as part of the Jekyll Island Authority’s “Adopt-a-Beach Program." The clean-up group will meet at 1:30 pm in the parking lot at the west end of the boardwalk.

The board meeting, which is open to IPJI’s members, will be held at 4:00 pm at the Hampton Inn & Suites and will include two guest speakers:
  • Former Georgia State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Chapman, who is well known for his work on behalf of Jekyll Island State Park, will speak about lessons to be learned from the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island.  
  • Dr. Ken Cordell, one of America’s foremost authorities on public land planning and the author of over 300 scientific papers dealing with Americans’ relationship with their natural lands, will talk about the value of applying nationally accepted planning principles to the upcoming official update of the Jekyll Island Master Plan and the importance of public engagement in the Master Plan process.

A social hour, with spiffy refreshments, will follow the meeting. 

The Hampton Inn is offering special rates for IPJI members who’ll be attending the annual meeting -- $99 for a standard room; and $109 for a suite. If you wish to take advantage of this offer, contact Susan Christian (912-635-3733) at the Hampton Inn to make arrangements.

If you plan to attend IPJI’s annual meeting and have not yet registered, please sign up by clicking here. We need an accurate count of attendees in order to plan for seating and refreshments.

Citizen Action Needed to Help Protect Georgia’s Coast

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is conducting a “Satisfaction Survey” to determine citizen opinion on the effectiveness of the Georgia Coastal Management Program (GCMP) in carrying out its official mission, which is “to balance economic development in Georgia's coastal zone with preservation of natural, environmental, historic, archaeological, and recreational resources for the benefit of Georgia's present and future generations.” The survey can be completed online at prior to October 20th.

A number of organizations concerned with coastal management, preservation and protection have questioned various GMCP practices, particularly with respect to the administration and implementation of Georgia’s Coastal Marshlands Protection Act and Shore Protection Act.

The Coastal Marshlands Protection Act states that,
“The coastal marshlands resource system is costly, if not impossible, to reconstruct or rehabilitate once adversely affected by man related activities and is important to conserve for the present and future use and enjoyment of all citizens and visitors to this state…. Activities and structures in the coastal marshlands must be regulated to ensure that the values and functions of the coastal marshlands are not impaired and to fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as public trustees of the coastal marshlands for succeeding generations.”

Despite the law’s intent, the DNR has approved the construction of invasive, privately-owned, recreational long docks - some reaching more than 1,200 feet - in coastal marshlands, and has done so without waiting for the results of ongoing scientific studies on the impacts of long docks on the health of the marsh.

Also of concern is the DNR's use of “Letters of Permission” to authorize land alteration and shore engineering activities within areas subject to the Shore Protection Act without securing the legally required approval of the Shore Protection Committee and without issuing the legally required public notice.  One such letter was issued this past year to authorize extensive land alteration activities in association with filming scenes from the movie X-Men on 4.5 acres of Jekyll’s beachfront that is under the Shore Protection Act's jurisdiction. A law suit has been filed against the DNR by the Center for a Sustainable Coast and IPJI’s Co-Directors David and Mindy calling for an end to the use of “Letter of Permission” with respect to the Shore Protection Act. [Click here for a letter from the Southern Environmental Law Center protesting the DNR’s use of “Letters of Permission”].

The Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island is encouraging its supporters to take part in the GCMP ten-question "Satisfaction Survey," the findings of which will be presented to the Georgia General Assembly. Our main concern is with survey questions 6 & 7, which deal with the GCMP’s handling of Georgia’s Shore Protection and Coastal Marshlands Protection Acts. After checking the appropriate response for those two questions, please  make use of the “comments” option to briefly rate the GCMP’s performance with respect to upholding the vitally important Shore Protection and Coastal Marshlands Protection Acts.

You may be unaware of some of the other programs/activities that the survey addresses; just check the “unfamiliar with this program activity” option for those questions. 

Jekyll Island Scores Big in America’s Favorite Parks Contest

The results of the “America’s Favorite Parks” contest are now final. Jekyll Island State Park, which received more than 500,000 votes, officially finished in 5th place out of more than 1,700 contestants, according to a September 28th press release issued by the contest’s sponsor, the Coca Cola Company.

Although Jekyll did not win a share of the $175,000 in prize money awarded to the top 3 finishers, the AFP contest was, for Jekyll’s friends, never about winning dollars but rather showing appreciation for the island’s unique character and natural beauty. We did that, and then some, by helping Jekyll secure a top five rank despite a very late start in the 70-day online voting contest. 

More than 300 people, representing 18 states and Canada, joined IPJI’s “Voting Clubs” and were vital to Jekyll’s ability to score more than 12,000 votes a day during the stretch run in order to reach a half-million total votes and claim rank #5 in the AFP competition. Our thanks go out to those of you who, in the face of technical glitches on the AFP’s website, annoying security codes, and our sometimes corny email updates/pep talks, voted for Jekyll day after day in the AFP contest.

IPJI’s effort in the AFP contest was formally recognized by the Chairman of the Jekyll Island Authority’s Board of Directors who, at the board’s September 26th meeting, thanked IPJI and presented its Co-Directors – Mindy and David Egan – with a six-pack of Coca Cola topped with a big, white bow.

We’re already looking forward to next year’s AFP contest and hope you, and a lot more of Jekyll’s friends, will join us then in propelling Jekyll to the top of the pack in this tough and prestigious competition.

IPJ Addresses Georgia Sierra Club

On October 1, 2011, IPJI board member Greg Lowery and Co-Directors David and Mindy Egan gave a two-part presentation to members of the Georgia Sierra Club, who were on Jekyll Island for a two-day retreat. The Jekyll Island Club era (1886-1942) and the early history of Jekyll Island State Park were the twin focal points of their opening talk, which was enriched by a series of photos from the late 1940s through the 1960s. The ‘must see” spots on Jekyll Island—particularly the island’s unique natural features—were also highlighted at that time.

The second presentation dealt with the Jekyll Island State Park redevelopment issue. The ambitious “Vision 2020” concept plan introduced by the Jekyll Island Authority in 2004; the rise and fall of the JIA’s partnership with high-end developer Linger Longer Communities; and the evolution of the Jekyll town center project were the core of their talk. A discussion of the importance of the upcoming official review of the Jekyll Island Master Plan and the need for continued citizen involvement in planning for the state park’s future closed out the presentation. 

IPJI always appreciates having an opportunity to speak to organizations interested in Jekyll Island State Park. If you are affiliated with an organization that would like to arrange for an IPJI spokesperson to address your group regarding any Jekyll-related subject, contact IPJI Chairperson Barbara McDonald at

Second Public Park Added to
Jekyll Town Center

At its September 26th board meeting, the Jekyll Island Authority introduced a concept plan for a public park on the south side of the Jekyll town center in an area that had previously been set aside for a 160-unit timeshare complex and more recently had been designated as the site for a third hotel for the Jekyll town center.

The newly announced public facility will include family picnic pavilions, restrooms, changing stations, landscaped green space, 131 parking spaces, and a new dune crossover. The South Beach Park, which will replace the current beach deck and parking area just to the north of the Days Inn, is adjacent to the site of the yet to be built 200-room Jekyll convention hotel and will provide additional parking and convenient access to the town center’s retail center. Its design will mirror that of the popular North Beach access at Great Dunes Park. Public access to the current South Beach deck/parking area will be closed from now until March 2012, when the $950,000 renovation project is estimated to be completed.

IPJI has been a long time advocate of maximizing public space within Jekyll Island State Park and therefore applauds the JIA’s recent decision to preserve and enhance the South Beach public amenity. Given the projections for rapid population growth for Georgia’s coastal counties, and considering that Jekyll Island is Georgia’s only oceanfront state park, public demand for convenient beach access is likely to grow significantly in coming years. Providing additional beach access and parking certainly makes good sense and is good public policy as well.

Jekyll Town Center Project:
Progress and Delays

Construction of the publicly financed components of the Jekyll town center is moving forward on schedule while the developers of the town center’s private components—two hotels, a retail center, and 63 loft condominiums—have yet to secure financing and, consequently, continue to push back their ground-breaking dates.

The center piece of the town center will be the 128,000 square feet Jekyll convention center, which should be completed by June, 2012.  The beachside convention center, which is being financed as part of a $50 million state bond issue for the town center project, will be LEED Silver Certified and will feature 78,000 square feet of prime meeting space, including a 4,500-seat ballroom suitable for large conferences and special events.

Jekyll Landmark Associates, the company selected to build the town center’s 200-room, full-service convention hotel, had hoped to obtain financing by the end of August but is now aiming to secure financing no later than December 31, 2011 and to complete the hotel on or before June 30, 2013. The five-story, beachfront hotel will be branded under either the Hilton, Westin or Marriott name.

Phelps Development, which stated at the May, 2011 JIA board meeting that financing for its 135-room limited-service hotel would be secured within a matter of days and that construction of the hotel could be begin as early as August, 2011, now intends to have its financing in hand by October 15, 2011, according to an announcement made at the September 26 JIA board meeting. Presumably, construction of the hotel, which will be operated by Hyatt Place, will begin before the end of the year.

Winding Road Development Company, which is slated to build the retail/ restaurant/condominium portion of the town center project, expects to have a decision on its EB 5 application for financing before the end of November. EB 5 is a federal program that provides a method of obtaining U.S. citizenship for foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in a project that creates a minimum of 10 U.S. jobs.

IPJI’s inaugural annual meeting will be held on November 12, 2011 at the Hampton Inn & Suites on Jekyll Island. The meeting will be preceded by two activities:
Site of the former Georgia Coast Inn
Click on sign to enlarge
Welcome! The Sierra
Club of Georgia

The Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island State Park

Click on picture for storm erosion photos
Want a free “Defend Jekyll Island” bumper sticker? Just send an email note to, with a subject line saying "bumper sticker."  The stickers provide a
way to show support for Jekyll Island State Park and publicize IPJI’s effort on Jekyll's behalf. 

Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island
Volume 5, Issue 2
Autumn, 2011