Southern Environmental Law Center Letterhead


Superintendent Gary Ingram
Cumberland Island National Seashore
101 Wheeler Street
St. Marys, Georgia 31558

Re: Cumberland Island National Seashore Proposed Visitor Use Management Plan

Dear Superintendent Ingram:

On behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Georgia Chapter Sierra Club, Georgia Audubon, Center for Sustainable Coast, Satilla Riverkeeper, and Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Southern Environmental Law Center offers these comments on the proposed Visitor Use Management Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Cumberland Island National Seashore.

In short, we are not convinced that the Park Service can increase the number of visitors it ferries to the Seashore each day from 300 to 700 people, construct the facilities described within, and implement the proposed policy changes without jeopardizing the ecological integrity and visitor experience of the island. We understand that you plan to temper the adverse effects of these changes by carefully monitoring them and employing mitigation measures, but we do not believe that you will have the resources needed to implement the plan effectively even if each element of the plan is sound. In addition to the proposed increase in the overall visitor limit, we are particularly concerned that the Plan allows up to 100 electric bicycles to be used on the island each day and does not do more to control the currently unchecked use of the South End Beach.

We recognize that you have an extremely difficult job. Perhaps more so than any other unit of the National Park System, Cumberland Island National Seashore harbors a dizzying array of often-conflicting interests. Environmentalists and historians seek to protect the island, area business owners depend on the tourism it generates, landowners fight to preserve their real estate interests, and visitors come to enjoy its enveloping solitude, primitive beauty, and rich history. The island itself is complex too; its diverse ecosystems are frail, dynamic, and buffeted by increasingly violent storms. It is impossible to balance these interests and complexities. However, the Park Service does not expect any park superintendent to do so. Congress’ original mandate when it designated the Seashore was, that although visitors were to be allowed to recreate in appropriate areas, the primitive aspects of the island would remain unimpaired for future generations.1Act of Oct. 23, 1972, Pub. L. No. 92-536, 86 Stat. 1066 (1972) (establishing the Cumberland Island National Seashore).

Click here to read more about Cumberland Island National Seashore Proposed Visitor Use Management Plan.

  • 1
    Act of Oct. 23, 1972, Pub. L. No. 92-536, 86 Stat. 1066 (1972) (establishing the Cumberland Island National Seashore).