Local conservationist looking to transform 70 acres for the public

By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
June 17, 2019

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- One South Georgia property owner is looking to put more than 70 acres to good use.

The land sits at the confluence of the Little River and the Withlacoochee River. It has been privately owned since the 1800's, but it could become a new asset to the community.

Thick forest and white sand winds all along the river extending from the Troupeville Boat Launch. Property owner Helen Tapp calls it the 'Land Between the Rivers." It has been in her family for generations, but now she wants to see it used for something bigger.

"This place wants to be part of the community," Tapp said. "It's a rare site that has this rich combination of history, deep history for this community. This was established so people could get to this new place called 'Florida."

After more than 100 years, these more than 70 acres are on the market, but only for the right reason.

"[There's] So much ecological value, so much recreational opportunity and educational interpretation opportunity. It just needs to be in the public domain," Tapp said.

Tapp wants this space to be open to the public, in order for everyone to learn about its history, the environment and its beauty.

One idea is to turn it in to a campground along the river.

Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman said it would be one of the first river campgrounds in the state, and could be an opportunity to bring in tourists and visitors to experience Lowndes County riverways.

Tapp said she there are many viable opportunities to bring this to fruition, but she hopes the land can become a piece of the community, with several different stakeholders working together and taking pride, and care in what it has to offer.

Located right next to the Troupeville Boat Launch, Tapp said it's already being used by a lot of people in the public, made clear by the amount of trash left along the trail. But because it is private property, the resources to keep it clean just aren't available.

Tapp said she doesn't mind people utilizing the land, as long as they stay safe and leave no trace.

Those involved said they would like to pursue options of using the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Fund. The state grant was approved by voters last fall. The newly appointed Board of Trustees over the fund will start taking applications next month.