BEAUFORT, S.C. (WCBD) – In what is considered to be one of the most important conservation transactions in state history, environmentalist and philanthropist Ted Turner and the state of South Carolina closed yesterday on the charitable transfer of Turner’s 4,680-acre St. Phillips Island near Beaufort via a bargain sale. As the largest privately held island off the coast, St. Phillips was sold for $4.9 million, about one-third of its appraised value and will complement Hunting Island State Park nearby. The sale was cleared within the last two weeks by the Joint Bond Review Committee and the State Fiscal Accountability Authority.
“St. Phillips is a jewel off the South Carolina coast, a pristine barrier island suffused with the natural beauty of the Lowcountry,” said Duane Parrish, Director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, which will manage the island. “The possibilities for shaping and offering exceptional coastal experiences are numerous.”
Located just north of Hilton Head Island, St. Phillips served as a Lowcountry retreat for Turner, his family and friends since 1979. It is surrounded by marsh and beach, and is accessible by boat ride up tidal rivers and creeks around Bay Point. Along with three boats and two vehicles, the sale also comes with a main residence and a few other structures on the island. A conservation easement held by the Nature Conservancy limits the number of additional structures that can be built.
“My family and I are thrilled that our beloved St. Phillips Island is now in the hands of the state of South Carolina,” said Ted Turner. “After sharing many fond memories together on the island, my family and I now look forward to others being able to experience and appreciate the unique beauty and tranquility that St. Phillips has provided us for so many years.”
The State Park Service will spend about six months assessing the island’s resources and logistical capacities to develop a comprehensive management plan for the property. Once that plan is in place, an operational strategy will be established to optimize the island’s visitor experience potential as part of Hunting Island State Park.