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Wild Cumberland
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Dear Wilderness Advocate,

Our newsletters typically appear in your inbox on the first of every month. Given recent developments, we felt it was important to deliver our April newsletter content right now.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Please reach out to us if you have questions.

Stay Wild,

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P.S. - We’re not here to tell you what to think - but we do strive to provide the information you need to make informed decisions. Your support makes that possible — please consider making a donation now.


The Visitor Use Management Plan proposed by the National Park Service for Cumberland Island in 2022 took precedence over a Wilderness Management Plan that is 40 years overdue.

It was touted for “improving access”, but recent management decisions have only made access more difficult:

  • Ferry and entrance fees to Cumberland Island have both increased since January 1, 2023.
  • The Seashore has joined a list of other federally-managed sites in refusing cash as a valid form of payment.

  • Effective 5/1/23, the Cumberland Island passenger ferry will also stop accepting cash payments.

Fortunately, you have one more opportunity to share your concerns about the changes NPS proposed in its Visitor Use Management Plan (VUMP) — this time, with Georgia Department of Natural Resources:

  • The State of Georgia Coastal Management Program (GCMP) is currently reviewing the information provided by NPS to ensure its proposed activities are consistent with Georgia’s enforceable environmental policies.

  • The full list of these enforceable policies can be viewed on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ website.
    • They include boat safety, marshland and shore protection, endangered wildlife, groundwater use, river corridor protection, septic tank law, and more.

  • The “consistency determination” submitted to GCMP, and that you’re reviewing, is found in the VUMP Appendix I. The NPS lists one page of mitigation measures, which can be found in Appendix I-1 of the VUMP.

  • Comments specific to GCMP’s enforceable policies regarding this Plan should be submitted in writing to Kelie Moore, Department of Natural Resources, One Conservation Way, Brunswick, Georgia 31520 or [email protected] and must be received by the close of business (4:30 p.m.) April 21, 2023.

We’ll be submitting comments and urge you to do the same. After all, our state shares responsibility to protect our coast:

“Usually, federal projects and activities are exempt from State laws and regulations. With a federally approved Coastal Management Program, however, federal activities that are reasonably likely to affect any coastal use or resource must be conducted consistent to the maximum extent practical with Georgia's Coastal Management Program, and federal law allows the Coastal Resources Division to review federal activities for consistency with State laws.” (Georgia Coastal Management Program, page 3)



The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks joined other organizations in supplemental comments by the Southern Environmental Law Center related to VUMP. Their comments focused on south end impacts and critical habitat.


You have probably seen recent media coverage related to the feral horses of Cumberland Island.

We’ve never been shy about our position on this issue. You can read all about it on our website, and find videos and infographics about it on our social media accounts.

Let’s face it: Good stewardship requires us to value the significance of barrier islands like Cumberland Island to our state's health and economy. Good stewardship requires us to acknowledge the global significance of Cumberland Island.

Good stewardship requires us to show compassion to these animals. Good stewardship requires us to demonstrate respect for these ecosystems, particularly as we face unprecedented anthropogenic changes.

These animals are suffering and deserve our compassion. They were abandoned by their original owners and have been ignored by our federal and state governments for decades — jeopardizing native ecosystems and functioning as a sideshow for Seashore visitors.

Good stewardship requires us to take responsibility — even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient.

We don’t think it should take a lawsuit for the NPS to do the right thing.

As the “trustee” for Cumberland Island, if you will, the NPS should - and could - have already followed through on its responsibility to the Seashore, its Wilderness, and the American public.

However, if the NPS continues to fail to meet these duties, we do not oppose any necessary and proper methods to ensure natural wonders - in this case, Cumberland Island National Seashore and its Wilderness - are protected and preserved for current and future generations.

This is what Congress envisioned and — perhaps most importantly — what the American people deserve.


Barrier islands constantly move, erode, and grow — but this natural process can be  affected by rising sea levels, strong waves, flooding, more intense storms…even feral horses. (Ahem.)

As we mentioned last month, Sen. Ossoff and Rep. Carter have submitted a request to prioritize funding in 2024 for a study on how erosion is impacting Cumberland Island. You may also recall The Water Resources Development Act of 2022 specifically calls out Cumberland Island - as did the Department of Interior’s environment subcommittee report. (Save yourself some effort and read this summary.) 

Public boat dock access remains limited due to hurricane damage; no timeline for repair has been provided.


We have received an increasing number of email and social media inquiries relating to vehicle traffic and noise on the island, specifically related to van tours and construction.


Please note that the NPS is now offering Lands and Legacies Tours to Plum Orchard, though booking is not reflected on the website at the time of this newsletter. This activity was authorized in a “North End Access and Transportation Management Plan”. Updates to the Sea Camp bathhouse are also underway. 

We always urge you to also share your comments and feedback with the NPS when you share them with us! 


CUIS management didn’t mention anything to the public about these important projects, but apparently they’ve been doing some park-wide water-quality assessments and monitoring for a Cuban treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis)! You can hear their unique call here.

  • According to the US Geological Survey, this species is “usually introduced through horticultural shipments and plantings (especially palm trees), hidden in building materials, and hitchhiking on motorized vehicles.”

  • “They also secrete a noxious chemical that can cause burning in the eyes and nose of humans and pets; this reaction may be more severe for people with asthma.”

This invasive, non-native species was apparently identified on Cumberland Island in 2020; it has also been identified in Glynn County, including on the south end of Jekyll Island. More information about these frogs can be found here. Monitoring was scheduled to continue through this spring.


South Cut Trail is Closed.
  • South Cut Trail remains closed between the main road and Killman Field Trail due to washout. Detour is along Killman Field trail. South Cut Trail from Killman Field trail to the beach is open. Photo: Southcut Trail, March 2023.

  • Island visitors are likely familiar with the chuck-will's-widow, Georgia Audubon's chosen "species of concern" for 2023 to 2025. Learn more about efforts to understand the species’ decline in Georgia here

  • The Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) says cruise ships are OFF the table for Fernandina

  • Track the journey of great white sharks off the Atlantic Coast - including Cumberland Island.

  • Nimbus, the North Atlantic right whale that was dragging almost 400 feet of fishing rope in January (before Georgia DNR and partners were able to cut most of it away) has been spotted this month near Martha’s Vineyard.

  • Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve recently closed its comment period for a draft Backcountry and Wilderness Management Plan, amending its own 1984 General Management Plan; check out the storymap here. 

  • Apparently the workaround for some NPS units to implement its cashless policy includes having visitors purchase a prepaid pass from local vendors before coming to the park. 

  • Recreation.gov was operated by the federal government until 2018. We urge you to learn more about the current lawsuit against Booz Allen, who was awarded a contract to manage that system, thanks to our friends at National Parks Traveler. We also recommend listening to what Park Junkie has to say about it. 

  • “Economic value is never the only reason nature is worth preserving.” (Scientific American, April 2023)


We can’t wait to see you at the St. Marys River Cleanup on Saturday, April 15 at 9:00 am. Wild Cumberland will participate in clean up, and we’ll have an opportunity to socialize together afterwards! If you’re interested in volunteering with us, email [email protected].


Join us for our first-ever virtual trivia night fundraiser!

Together we’ll discover some obscure facts related to Cumberland Island and test our knowledge of its history. BONUS: there are prizes!

Stay tuned - we’ll share more details in our next email newsletter.


Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit comments supporting our beloved Okefenokee Swamp in February and March.

More than 170,000 comments were received. 


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