Ecological Sensitive Solar Light Project


The purpose behind this grant request for the Butler Island Ecological Sensitive Solar Lights and Ecosystem Signage is to procure funding for the Ecological Sensitive Solar Lights, Signage, and Installment on Butler Island, Georgia, to honor the 436 enslaved listed for sale during the Weeping Time March 2-3. 1859 and explain the surrounding ecosystems on Butler Island. The Weeping Time was the largest sale of humans in the history of the United States. Located just south of Darien where Cathead Creek meets the Butler Rive, two major transportation routes travel through Butler Island- Interstate 95 and US Highway 17. The ecological sensitive lights will be placed close to US Hwy 17, which is on the East Coast Greenway.

The Butler Island Plantation was one of the largest plantations in the south. It is located just south of downtown Darien across the Darien River on Highway 17. The plantation was established in the 1790s by Major Pierce Butler of Philadelphia. Through the labor of enslaved Africans and African Americans, he cultivated the land on the Altamaha Delta as a rice plantation. In 1859, Major Butlerís grandson, Pierce Butler, encumbered by gambling debts liquidated a portion of his assets, which were 436 enslaved people. These humans were sold at auction March 2-3, 1859 in the largest slave sale in American history, in what is now known as the Weeping Time.
Today, remnants of a system of dikes and canals, which were used for the cultivation of rice are still apparent in the old fields. The site is now owned by the State of Georgia, Department of Natural Resources, and leased to the City of Darien, and the land (excluding the 1920s era historic structures) is open to the public for picnicking, fishing, and birding. In 2009, a lease agreement, yet unclear division of duties, between the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the City of Darien led to demolition by neglect of the floodgates, rice dikes, historic structures, trails, and docks. Only 3 signs tell any history about Butler Island. Two were placed to the Butler family in the 1950s, and one to the enslaved in 2019. As such, this project originated out of telling the true stories of Butler Island, incorporating the ecology and wildlife sensitive environment into the project. The story of Butler Island includes itsí ecosystem, and the project wants to include both, with solar lighting and signage installation that will not hann its nature. Flooding to the low-level site is prevalent, and any signage or lights placed on the property will have to take the sea levels into account when planning.

The Coastal Georgia Greenway is part of the East Coast Greenway; a trail network that connects Maine with Florida. The Island Hopper Trail is the centerpiece of the Coastal Georgia Greenway; a hike-and-bike trail network along Georgiaís Coast that connects South Carolina with Florida. The Island Hopper Trail is a 36-mile route that connects Sapelo Island, St. Simons Island, and Jekyll Island. It includes the Altamaha Scenic Byway; continuing south on US Hwy I7, which travels through Butler Island. Butler Island is also part of the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area /Altamaha River Waterfowl Area (AWMA/ARWA) which stretches for l7 miles along the Altamaha River, which is the largest free flowing water system on the Atlantic Coast. This refuge provides many types of habitats that support a variety of wildlife. Habitats along the river include rice fields, pine savannas, tidal creeks, hardwood floodplain forests, and old growth stands of bald cypress. The wildlife viewing is one of the best in the state for observing waterfowl for numbers and diversity, and it is the second largest waterfowl area east of the Mississippi.

The Coordination and Installation will be a collaborative effort between the Lower Altamaha Historic Society (LAHS), The Coalition to Save Butler Island, and The Weeping Time Commemorative Committee. A Project committee will fonn with members of these three groups consisting of historians, and Dr. Kwesi DeGraft- Hanson, Ph.D.. a Weeping Time research Butler Island Ecological Sensitive Solar Lights and Ecosystem Signage historian and landscape architect. Planning meetings will occur the first Monday of every month until April 2022.

Correction --The Oct, Nov & Dec Dates below should be 2021 not 2022