Island Superintendent Retires

Island Superintendent Retires

February 3, 2014  |  Ear to the Sand

Fred Boyles retired from his post as Cumberland Island National Seashore Superintendent in late 2013. An interim superintendent will fill in until a permanent superintendent is selected by May 2014.

On 8 June 2009, Fred Boyles stepped in to fill the vacancy left by the firing of the previous superintendent, Jerre Brumbelow. Guiding the management of Cumberland Island has always been precarious, so to say Boyles arrived at a difficult time is a refrain. Motorized tours through the Wilderness were begun during his tenure, although not at Park Service request. Despite shrinking government funds to operate the National Seashore, a venal Congressman introduced legislation which mandated five motorized tours per day to the north end of the island (Wilderness), a convenience for visitors forbidden by the Seashore’s enabling legislation and an unthinkable insult to the Wilderness and our legacy. The NPS was forced to implement the action, which continues today, with tours reduced to two per day. Several retained rights agreements, negotiated for a term of years rather than the life of the owner, expired during Boyles’ tenure. Dealing with landowners reluctant to part with their property was certainly less than pleasant and demanded much patience. The usual in-house squabbles also prevailed, assuring typically less than smooth sailing at this park.

A problematic Fire Management Plan for the island was drafted this year, which would allow controlled burns throughout the island. According to G. Jackson in a local newspaper, the Wilderness and historic and private structures make it impossible to allow a naturally ignited fire to burn. Fires would apparently be ignited mostly in winter when tourism is low, the newspaper advised. The plan has not been approved yet, following public comment.

Boyles will continue to receive a government paycheck albeit now from the Navy, where he has maintained his position in the Naval Reserve. He is stationed at Port Hueneme in California, according to the local paper.

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