Over 90 Sierra Club members journeyed to Cumberland Island last weekend to visit with Carol Ruckdeschel and learn about its most pressing issues. Feral livestock, fire, bicycles, and the urgent need for a wilderness management plan were among the topics discussed as they hiked from Sea Camp to Dungeness.
Feral horses are suffering. For their health — and the island’s — they need to removed. Sterilizing the males seems like the most humane, cost-effective, and most sensible approach. A small herd of horses could be maintained by the National Park Service for tourists.
Fire is an essential component of the island ecosystems, and naturally ignited fires need to be allowed to burn on Cumberland, especially in the wilderness. Unfortunately, the new fire management plan proposes prescribed burns instead of natural ones.
Bicycles are a fine way to explore the south end of the island, but they could quickly overrun the wilderness if they are not properly managed.
All of these issues could be addressed by a comprehensive wilderness management plan. The Sierra Club visitors plan to encourage the Park Service to begin drafting that plan immediately.
The Sierra Club has a long history with Cumberland Island. It played a pivotal role in protecting the northern half of the island as wilderness in the early 1980s. We hope that the Sierra Club will once again step up and be a powerful voice for Cumberland.