Wilderness Watch is urging the National Park Service to preserve the wild characteristics Cumberland Island was set aside to protect. Unfortunately, the National Park Service (NPS) has historically and tragically failed to keep the promise of a wild Cumberland Island as it has allowed excessive and unlawful motor vehicle use in the Wilderness, suppressed naturally ignited fires at great detriment to the island’s ecology, prioritized saving structures rather than allow nature to reclaim the Wilderness, and the list goes on. The NPS’s Cumberland Island National Seashore Visitor Use Management Plan appears geared towards a substantial increase in visitor numbers and amenities, a transition from a relatively primitive experience to a more developed tourist experience.
- In our comments we suggested the following:
• Keep Seashore access to the daily 300 person limit.
• Prohibit all motor vehicle use, including access to the beach, that isn’t specifically authorized by private existing rights.
• Ban bicycle use north of the Wilderness’s southern boundary.
• Keep commercialization to a minimum and ban/end commercial vehicle tours.
• Consider allowing dispersed camping rather than build new campgrounds in the Wilderness. Limit overall use to current numbers and monitor/restrict if necessary to prevent resource damage, protect imperiled species, protect the beach, etc.
• All NPS decisions should promote restoring a wild Cumberland Island. For example, in addition to the points already mentioned, the NPS should allow natural fire to play its role in the Wilderness. Wilderness visitors deserve to experience an authentic Wilderness, not one where natural processes are controlled by managers.
Photo: Jerome Walker