KEEP SAPELO GEECHEE!

Help - Immediate Threat to Historical Hogg Hummock Community on Sapelo Island

Write to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers TODAY!

The practice of non-descendants purchasing property for vacation destinations or rentals on Sapelo Island in the community of Hog Hammock has been underway for a number of years. But today a new threat is emerging – the new property owners are aggressively seeking permission to construct amenity features for their new homes – features like private recreational docks and boat houses.

The most evident example of this is a new property owner’s application (permit application #SAS-2021-00042) to build a private recreational dock to accompany his new home on the marsh. While it is within the homeowner’s rights to seek such a permit, we have to ask, how might this private dock (and others that will likely follow) change our community and affect our rights to ancestral marshes and waterways, and could the dock and any recreational vessels prevent residents from not only navigating shared waterways, but also affect water quality?

Today, the dock application is being considered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who has the authority to permit the project, deny the project, or recommend an amended permit.

The area where the dock is proposed is known as Garry Hole. And it is right next to Sarah Hole, Big Hole, and Home Creek. This area is the closest land mass to that waterway and the way by which we enter from the highland of our historic Geechee community. Baptisms within the community were done in this very area. This means that for generations our ancestors and many present-day community members and descendants were baptized in this specific area. A private recreational dock would literally lay claim to a communal and historically sacred space that we have used for countless generations. It is more than just a staple of our community. It is a part of its historical backbone and history.

We are descended from a people that have faced immense challenges since many of our ancestors were enslaved and brought to these shores. But we’re still here. We’re still here. Our historic community and direct descendants are still here. So, we ask that you join us in our campaign to preserve not only the historical status of our community, but our community itself. To preserve that very thing that makes us unique; our heritage, our history, our story; our community.

The next question is what can you do?

How do we take action? For generations, we have had to fight for our right to stay on Sapelo. Right now that need to fight is greater than ever. Please follow the action steps listed below to support our cause.

TAKE ACTION!

In order to build the dock, the applicant needs the US Army Corps of Engineers to grant a permit. We must not let that happen. Click here to review SAS-2021-00042 application.
Act today to voice your objection to a private recreational dock that limits our access to ancestral waters.

Click HERE (william.m.rutlin@usace.army.mil) to email the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers TODAY.  

Use the sample email below or offer your own comments. Make sure to:

  1. Share your opinion for why the dock should be denied. We must demonstrate that there is "appreciable opposition" to the project (consider including some points from the SICARS letter).
  2. Request a public hearing to discuss the application. Ask that the hearing be held on Sapelo Island. 
  3. Support SICARS' position of opposing the recreational dock in order to maintain public access to the historic waters of Sapelo. 


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SAMPLE EMAIL TO:

Mr. William Rutlin (william.m.rutlin@usace.army.mil), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

SUBJECT: Objection to SAS-2021-00042

Dear Mr. Rutlin,

As a descendant of the enslaved Africans who were brought to Sapelo in 1802, I am writing to object to SAS-2021-00042, a proposal for a private recreational dock from the Watson family homestead in Hog Hammock, on Sapelo Island.  I have reviewed the proposal and object to the issuance of a permit for the project for a number of reasons:

  1. Allowing one resident to construct a private dock in this location will restrict our access to community waterways and marshes that we have used for subsistence fishing and crabbing for generations. 
  2. The project is an amenity that will open the door to many more docks, certainly changing the character of our historic community and endangering our way of life. Hog Hammock is a Historic District recognized by the National Parks Service as the only intact, viable, historic African American settlement remaining on a Georgia coastal island. 
  3. The creek width is much narrower than depicted in the license issued by GA Coastal Resources Division. Should any large vessel be docked at this location, our ability to navigate this historic creek safely will be affected. 
  4. Permitting private recreational docks throughout Sapelo’s pristine marshes will increase boat traffic and water pollution affecting the important scientific research that has been conducted for decades through the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research Site.

 There is a significant level of opposition to this project, so I ask that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers host a public hearing on Sapelo Island to receive comments directly from the community members and neighbors that will be affected by the project.

After you review the application and comments submitted, I hope you deny the project. It is not in the public interest and would have a detrimental impact on the heritage and culture of the Hog Hammock historic district.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

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