Spaceport Camden is a private commercial spaceport that some of the local community has pushed for years as a means of economic stimulus. This spaceport is proposed to be located less than four miles from Cumberland Island Wilderness, which falls directly beneath its launch trajectory.
Cumberland Island Wilderness is part of the Cumberland Island National Seashore, administered by the National Park Service (NPS). Once sanctioned as a UN Biosphere Reserve, it is home to hundreds of species of shorebirds and serves as nesting grounds for multiple endangered species.
The Cumberland Island Wilderness is governed by the 1964 Wilderness Act, 16 U.S.C. 1131-1136. Congress designated the Cumberland Island Wilderness in 1982. The surrounding area is also protected by the Shoreline Protection Act and Marshlands Protection Act.
These additional layers of protection require additional environmental reviews, which have not been completed.
The overriding purpose of the Wilderness Act is the preservation of wilderness character. However, Spaceport Camden threatens every aspect of Cumberland Island’s wilderness character:
- Visual intrusion
- Primitive and unconfined recreation
- Undeveloped nature
- Transcendent and spiritual values
- Connection to the past
- Ecological and evolutionary processes
- Other intangible values
One failed launch could eradicate years of conservation efforts.
- The county’s new application moved from larger rockets to smaller ones, which have a three times greater failure rate.
- 12 launches are scheduled per year, with an additional 42 ‘wet dress’ and static fire engine tests.
- Launch trajectory is directly over the location of Congressionally-protected Wilderness. (Insert link to map)
- The noise and visual intrusion from launches will negatively impact the Cumberland Island Wilderness.
- Failed launches could send flaming debris falling from the sky, destroying or damaging the habitats of endangered species, both in the water and on land.
- There is currently an “acceptable” number of Island and Wilderness occupants, which implies potential visitor and resident casualties.
- Low-flying aircraft, drone surveillance, and multiple checkpoints to monitor visitors within Wilderness Boundaries are the antithesis of its intended purpose.
- Nowhere in the U.S. are rockets launched over inhabited areas.
- No other unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System has commercial rockets launching over it within comparable proximity.
- Nuclear warheads are stored only 8 miles away.
- The launch site is located only 4 miles from Kings Bay Naval Base.
- The launch site was previously used for the manufacture of various chemicals.
The launching of commercial rockets over the Cumberland Island Wilderness violates both the requirements of the Wilderness Act and NPS’s own guidelines. It also defies all common sense.
Wild Cumberland urges you to contact your elected officials to voice opposition to Spaceport Camden. Further updates as they become available.
Please note, that a new Environmental Impact Statement must be completed, based on a revised application for smaller rocket launches (which have a higher failure rate). At that time, public comments will again be accepted by the FAA.
View Carol’s video below:
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