Ted Turner sells private island to South Carolina in major land conservation deal

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WOLO) – In a history-making conservation deal, an island off the South Carolina coast owned by media mogul Ted Turner now belongs to the state.

The S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism announced the charitable transfer deal of the 4,680-acre St. Phillips Island near Beaufort, Thursday.

Turner sold St. Phillips, which was the largest, privately held island off the coast, for $4.9 million, about a third of its appraised value. The state said it will complement nearby Hunting Island State Park. The sale was cleared in the past 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.”

The island, which is located just north of Hilton Head Island, has served as a Lowcountry retreat for Turner and his family since 1979. Accessible by a boat ride up tidal rivers and creeks around Bay Point, it’s surrounded by marsh and beach.

“My family and I are thrilled that our beloved St. Phillips Island is now in the hands of the state of South Carolina,” said 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.”

State park service officials said the sale includes three boats, two cars, a main residence and a few other structures. A conservation easement held by the Nature Conservancy restricts the number of additional structures permitted.

The department said it will spend six months developing a management plan for the property. It will eventually become a part of the visitor experience from Hunting Island State Park.

In the past decade, Turner has become a well-known environmentalist and philanthropist.


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