Organizations standing together against the Spaceport

Organizations standing together against the Spaceport

April 9, 2018  |  Ear to the Sand

Wild Cumberland is standing alongside several organizations and businesses in opposing the proposed spaceport across from Cumberland Island. The Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club, St. Marys Riverkeeper, and St. Marys Earthkeeper have also been key voices in the effort to stop the spaceport, as well as Amelia Island’s Walk & Talk Tours and longtime Cumberland Island supporter Bee Natural. Interested in joining our coalition? Please contact us at wildcumberland@gmail.com.

 

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How to Comment Effectively on the Proposed Spaceport

How to Comment Effectively on the Proposed Spaceport

April 9, 2018  |  Ear to the Sand

It is perfectly OK to raise an issue about the Draft EIS with no support for your arguments. The burden of proof is on the FAA – not you. The FAA must respond in the Final EIS to your comments. That said, if you have evidence or facts – even better. Please don’t let your “lack of expertise” prevent you from trying to comment on the environmental impact concerns you have. With that in mind, here are a few tips:

1. Do not assume that someone else will comment on the issue that concerns you. The more comments the FAA receives on a topic, the more attention to your comment will receive.

2. Objectively evaluate the project and be VERY specific. Generalities are easily dismissed.

3. Separate your concerns into clearly identifiable paragraphs or headings and keep a tight focus on each separate issue. Don’t mix topics.

4. Avoid saying “I support the spaceport, but…” – just list your concerns or your letter may be classified as a letter of support instead of addressing your concerns.

    1. 5. Consider ways to avoid impacts or enforceable ways to reduce the severity of impacts. Quantify your objections whenever possible. If a potential significant impact is not adequately identified; or if no mitigation is proposed for a potentially significant impact; or if the mitigation proposed is not sufficient, appropriate or feasible, then: a. Identify the specific impact in question;
    2. b. Explain why you believe the impact would occur;
    3. c. Explain why you believe the effect would be significant; and, if applicable,
    4. d. Explain what additional mitigation measure(s) or changes in proposed mitigations or to the project you would recommend.
    5. e. Explain why you would recommend any changes and support your recommendations.
    6. f. Whenever possible, present facts or expert opinions. If not, provide personal experience or your observations. Don’t just complain.
    7. 6. Include suggestions for making it better or offer specific alternatives and describe how they meet the requirements of the project. Your goal should be to write something that causes them to respond in a future document based on the evidence you have given.
    8. 7. Point out any inconsistencies in the document or the data. a. Compare Draft EIS statements to facts you know.
    9. b. Point out outdated information or errors in logic.
    10. c. Focus on the sufficiency (or lack thereof) of the EIS in identifying and analyzing the possible impacts of the project on the environment and public health and safety.
    11. 8. Write a comment that includes a valid name and address. Submit it before the deadline. KEEP A COPY OF YOUR COMMENTS.
    12. 9. Submit additional comments if you think of something later but submit them before the deadline.

5 Reasons Why You Should Comment on the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the Spaceport

1. The public process allows you participate in a significant way in the once in a lifetime opportunity of designing a spaceport. You can have a significant impact. Your input can help shape this project in a positive way or stop it if it is bad for Camden County.

2. Even if you are not especially worried about this project, then consider that it may still be built in ways that negatively affect you, your home, your kids, your neighborhood, your financial security, Camden County, or our State. The only way to make the FAA aware of your individual, immediate concerns is to send in comments during this period.

3. Your comments to the FAA are your opportunity to address any concerns related to safety, scenic, aesthetic, historic and environmental issues.

4. If you don’t think your comments will have any effect, then consider that the only comments that will not to have any impact are the ones you don’t write. Those comments you do write must be considered and addressed by the FAA.

5. If you do not comment, you forgo many of your rights to any recourse in the future.

* IMPORTANT: If you make reference to ANY document in your EIS comments (a letter or notice you received, a law in your city, a copy of a presentation you saw – even if it was provided by the FAA, etc.) you should include a full copy as part of your EIS comments. Think of your comments as testimony in a case. Any documents you are submitting in the future might be considered evidence. Do NOT assume the FAA has a copy of any document you are referencing.

* IMPORTANT: Keep a copy of your comments. Send a copy to your County Commissioner as well so they have a record of what the citizens are asking for or are concerned about relating to the spaceport.

Disclaimer: The following is intended to serve as a guide and is not intended to be legal advice. Please seek professional help from a lawyer if you have legal questions or concerns.

Email your comments to:

FAACamdenSpaceportEIS@ Leidos.com.

Mail your comments to:

Ms. Stacey M. Zee, Spaceport Camden EIS c/o Leidos 20201 Century Boulevard, Suite 105 Germantown, MD 20874

Email a copy to your Commissioner: district#@co.camden.ga.us substitute # with 1,2,3,4 or 5 Email a copy of your Comments to: steve.spaceportfacts@gmail.com

 —Steve Weinkle

Spaceport EIS disregards health and safety

Spaceport EIS disregards health and safety

March 28, 2018  |  Ear to the Sand

Here is a link to the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Spaceport directly across from Cumberland Island. There are many reasons why this spaceport’s location is a really bad idea, especially its impact to safety, access to Cumberland Island, island ecology, and the water quality of the entire region, but unfortunately, this EIS ignores those impacts entirely.

 

Now or Never: Stop the Development on Cumberland

Now or Never: Stop the Development on Cumberland

March 5, 2018  |  Ear to the Sand

An 88-acre private beachfront development has been proposed for Cumberland Island National Seashore, the country’s largest and wildest barrier island. A developer plans to build at least 10 large houses adjacent to Cumberland Island’s visitor center and campground.

This increased development is a threat to the purposes of National Seashore and will interfere with the visitor experience.

Wild Cumberland hopes to stop the development with legal action. But time is running out. We need to file litigation in the next few months in order to stop the bulldozers.

We have launched a crowdfunding to take legal action against the proposed development. Visit the our crowdfunding page here.

If this private upscale subdivision in the middle of a national park is allowed to proceed, an additional 900 acres of private land within Cumberland Island National Seashore may also be developed.

As an all-volunteer federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Wild Cumberland will use 100% of the funds for direct legal action to stop the development.

Donations to the legal fund can be made through our crowdfunding site here. Thanks for any help you can offer.

 

Cumberland in Crisis

Cumberland in Crisis

November 30, 2017  |  Ear to the Sand

Check out the latest update to the subdivision saga on Cumberland Island. Will development destroy one of the last wild islands? Or will the National Park Service step up to stop it?

Read the full story published this week in Blue Ridge Outdoors here.

Don’t Believe the Hype

November 9, 2017  |  Ear to the Sand, Uncategorized

A recent story in Great Britain’s Daily Mail promoted the “wild” horses of Cumberland. Unfortunately, the story contains many inaccuracies surrounding the horses.

Visitors imagine that the animals are enjoying happier lives living free on a forested island, but most island visitors see only a glimpse of the life of island horses. They do not observe the struggles of equine life in this hostile island environment, nor the outcomes, since the National Park Service quickly removes dead or injured animals from sight. Turning loose the horses on Cumberland is similar to turning one’s pet dog loose in a forest and expecting it to fare well.

On Cumberland, feral mares are often impregnated at age one, long before they are fully mature. Their health quickly deteriorates, especially when food supplies are sparse, which they frequently are on barrier islands.

In addition, foal mortality is high, and environmental hazards are many. Flowing manes and long-haired tails are potentially deadly in vine-tangled forests, where the horses are often snared and held until death. The open, level expanses of salt marsh are inviting to equines, but the weight of a horse is distributed on four small points, which offer little support in soft mud. Once a horse sinks belly-deep in mud, escape is unlikely, but the tide is inevitable. Many have drowned, held fast by the mud.

And there are predators. Island horses are killed by alligators, as well as venomous snakes, and encephalitis-bearing mosquitoes. In reality, life is hard and survival is a challenge for the horses living on Cumberland Island.

Not only are the horses living a hard life, but many animals native to Cumberland suffer from the presence of feral livestock, as do the natural island ecosystems. Much of the island horse’s diet is composed of Spanish moss, which would otherwise hang to the ground, providing food and habitat for native animals. One look at the amount of horse manure on the island gives an idea of the enormity of their impact on the vegetation and water quality, and thus the ecosystems.

Preferring open areas to hazardous forest habitat, and always in search of food, horses frequent the beach and dunes to forage and escape biting flies. There they graze and trample grasses necessary to stabilize the dunes, such as sea oats. Sea oats help hold the sand dunes in place, with their deep network of roots and ability to continue growing if buried. Grazing compromises this natural protection of the shoreline and also violates state law.

It is time for us to thoughtfully address the presence of feral horses on Cumberland Island, taking into account their welfare and that of the island ecosystems. Local businesses see the horses as attracting tourist dollars. Others still have an emotional attachment to having horses on the island, without understanding the situation. Are we guilty of simply projecting our romantic notions onto suffering animals?

Recently, the National Park Service expressed an interest in non-lethally eliminating feral horses on the island. Using contraception, it is both possible and feasible through non-lethal methods, to allow the present horses to live out their lives on the island, without reproduction, thereby preventing future suffering and ecosystem degradation. In the long-term, using contraception to reduce the number of horses on Cumberland is what’s best for the horses and the island.

Hot off the Press: A Natural History of Cumberland Island

Hot off the Press: A Natural History of Cumberland Island

October 4, 2017  |  Ear to the Sand

This is the essential book for anyone who cares about Cumberland. Carol has spent four decades collecting data and studying the wildlife of Cumberland Island. The book includes her field observations, photos, and detailed descriptions of every species on Cumberland Island.

“To understand a place, one must live there, as Carol Ruckdeschel has done for more than four decades,” says Kenneth Dodd, Ph.d., of the Department of Wildlife and Conservation at the University of Florida. “The information in this book is not based on casual observations, but on a detailed examination of the life history of the species encountered, individual by individual, through the years. These results incorporate thousands of hours of field biology and laboratory observations, making the author a true natural historian in the best sense of the discipline.”

Having lived on Cumberland Island for more than forty years, Carol Ruckdeschel’s goal has been to document present conditions of the island’s flora and fauna, establishing a baseline from which to assess future changes. Since the late 1960s, she has witnessed many changes and trends that are often overlooked by those carrying out short-term observations. This compilation of data, along with historic information, presents the most comprehensive picture of the island’s flora, fauna, geology, and ecology to date.

If you read only one book about Cumberland, this is it. Learn more and buy it at mupress.org.

Rally for Cumberland Island: June 24

June 13, 2017  |  Ear to the Sand

Hope to see you there. Meanwhile, Camden County will make its final decisions about development on Cumberland tonight. Please call or email the Camden County Commissioners today.

 

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Horses: Enslaved in hostile terrain for our viewing pleasure

Horses: Enslaved in hostile terrain for our viewing pleasure

June 11, 2017  |  Ear to the Sand

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Outraged? Let the Park Service know. They want to hear from YOU. It is time that we stepped up FOR the feral horses on Cumberland Island and left our selfish and mercenary desires behind.

WRITE: Superintendent G. Ingram, Cumberland Island National Seashore

101 Wheeler St.

St. Marys, GA 31558

Or check the Park website for other options: www.nps.gov/cuis/contacts.htm

 

Now Is The Time

Now Is The Time

May 27, 2017  |  Ear to the Sand
Now is the time to stop the development planned for Cumberland Island. A coalition of environmental organizations have teamed up to create the SAVE CUMBERLAND ISLAND facebook page, and they will be spearheading efforts over the next week leading up to the county commissioner’s meeting. Public outrage is monting, but now it needs to be funneled into action. This next week may be our only chance to stop the development on Cumberland Island. Join the discussion on the new facebook page and contact the county commissioners:
https://www.facebook.com/saveCumberlandIsland/?pnref=story
The Camden County Commissioners will make an important decision on the development on June 5. Emails and phone calls are urgently needed now.
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