The National Park Service is suggesting significant increases in visitation and development on Cumberland Island as part of their Visitor Use Plan for Cumberland Island National Seashore. They are considering a significant development for the south end and beach to allow more boats and other watercraft to access the island. They have also proposed campsites and development on Long Point, the wildest and northernmost end of the beach The National Park service also is thinking about substantially increasing the number of visitors coming to the island daily and provide more amenities for this visitors, including more vehicle tours. The Visitor Use Plan will transition the island away from a relatively primitive experience to a more developed tourist experience.
Here are some key points and issues to consider addressing in comments:
No development or campground at Long Point: Establishing a campground at Long Point is definitely not supportive of the resource. Increasing human presence on Long Point would be detrimental to the birds which use it or reside in the area. The tips of islands are always heavily used by birds because of the usual lack of predators in the open areas. Also, access into Christmas Creek is always changing and thus dangerous for entry.
No additional tours or vehicle traffic: All vehicular traffic on the Main Road impairs the visitor experience. Vehicular traffic on the Main Road is arguably contrary to the intent and spirit of the Wilderness Act and of the Cumberland Wilderness. Vehicular traffic throughout the Seashore disrupts the natural quiet and natural sounds associated with the physical and biological resources of the Park. Increasing camp sites on the north end of the island (Settlement Area and Long Point) may increase vehicular traffic to these areas for Park patrol purposes and should therefore be discouraged. Increasing the level of visitor activities should be avoided in the Settlement Area on the north end of the island as this will result in increased vehicular traffic.
No development of the South End Beach: NPS should preclude trespassers, particularly on the South End, and should address the inholders using the Seashore and its resources for business purposes (i.e. charging guests etc.). Prohibit all boats from landing at the South End.
No campground at The Settlement: Placing a new campground in or near the Settlement is inappropriate. Hikers come north to enjoy the Wilderness and do not appreciate regular bus traffic. There is also little to attract Wilderness campers in that area, where many retained rights limit access. The NPS General Management Plan directs the Park to “ensure the Historic District does not become a high use area.” Resource protection is important at Burbank Point for birds and other wildlife. Human traffic should not be increased there.
Extend the Parallel Trail south to Dungeness. The Parallel Trail should connect with Dungeness to keep people off the road.
Boaters should register and enter at Sea Camp: Boaters and kayakers should not be able to enter the Cumberland Wilderness Area without previously registering with Park. Boats with motors should not be able to enter the Wilderness Area.
Protect the island’s wildness, solitude, and quietude: All uses interfering with the natural soundscape should be carefully considered and eliminated wherever possible. All uses for the convenience of the visitor should be carefully considered and denied as contrary to the Seashore’s purpose.
All uses in and adjacent to the Cumberland Wilderness Area which result in additional use contrary to the spirit and intent of the Wilderness Act should be denied, including increasing the numbers of people accessing the Wilderness other than by foot from a designated entry point.
No commercial sales or stores on the island: Offering supplies to visitors will only cause more litter and the need for more people on the island to handle the sales, stocking, and money. Let the boat or the mainland be the place for supplies.
Here are some key principles to include in any comments:
- The National Park Service should be largely guided by the relevant controlling legislation, rules and NPS policies.
- NPS should appropriately define “visitor” to include only those individuals who are properly within the Park, having paid the appropriate entry fee and entered the Park at a designated point of entry.
- All proposed actions which result in increased net vehicle use should be avoided, regardless of offsetting benefits; this especially pertains to increased vehicular traffic on the Main Road through the Wilderness Area.
- All proposed actions which in any way diminish the visitor’s full use and enjoyment of the primitive aspects of the island or the ability to enjoy solitude, peace and tranquility, should be denied.
- All contemplated uses which threaten future generations’ use and enjoyment of the Seashore’s resources should be denied, particularly actions which serve to impair or threaten the park’s natural and Wilderness resources.