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Wild Cumberland


Dear Wilderness Advocate,

Wilderness isn’t a perfect construct, but it is the highest degree of land protection available in the United States.

These parcels of land - set aside so that we cannot intentionally (or even unintentionally) destroy them - are an important resource for our own survival.

We can’t turn back the clock on coastal development, or the proliferation of plastic. We can ensure that Wilderness areas (which, if we’re honest, perform an important role in our current society as scientific “controls”) — remain protected.

Less than 3 percent of the contiguous United States is designated as Wilderness; less than one percent of that is in Georgia.

Help amplify our message: forward this email to a friend, make a donation, or consider joining a committee now.

We need your help - and everyone who believes in, or appreciates, our work has a role in helping us succeed.

Stay Wild,

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Jessica Howell-Edwards
Executive Director

P.S. - Have you noticed our billboard as you go to and from St Marys? Your donations help make that possible.


If you recall, there was an additional opportunity to share concerns about the changes NPS proposed in its Visitor Use Management Plan (VUMP) — this time, with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (April 2023).

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.

That’s because our state shares in 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.”

Source: Georgia Coastal Management Program, page 3



You’ve seen the news by now: a lawsuit was filed on April 12, 2023 in US District Court (Atlanta) relating to the feral horses of Cumberland Island.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The suit seeks to bring short and long term relief to the horses - and to the island's natural and wilderness resources - by humanely transitioning the horses from the island.

  • The defendants are listed as follows: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland; Director of the NPS South Atlantic and Gulf Region Mark Foust; Cumberland Island National Seashore Superintendent Gary Ingram; Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams; and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper.

  • Federal officials have 60 days to respond, while state officials have 21 days.

Wild Cumberland believes that good stewardship requires us to show compassion to these animals.

Good stewardship also requires us to demonstrate respect for our ecosystems, particularly as we face unprecedented anthropogenic changes.

Wild Cumberland believes it should NOT take a lawsuit for the NPS to do the right thing. The agency has all the data it needs to create a path forward.

Management should (and could) have already fulfilled its responsibility to the Seashore, its Wilderness, and the public. We encourage you to let the NPS know if you agree. You can email the Regional Director ([email protected]) and the park superintendent ([email protected]) directly.

Editor’s Note: Wild Cumberland has worked diligently to impact public awareness related to these animals — and in full disclosure, one of our founders and board member Carol Ruckdeschel is a plaintiff in this suit.



The saga isn’t over. You may also want to read this article, which offers the perspective of a recent grand juror.


More than 140 parks have initiated and completed Climate Action Plans. We’d love nothing more than to see Cumberland Island National Seashore join Point Reyes National Seashore, Cape Cod National Seashore, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and others that have already demonstrated this commitment to future generations.

Climate Action Plans
are designed to help park units:

  • Achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, net-zero water use, and net zero energy for facilities and operations;

  • Achieve net-zero waste and sustainable procurement; and

  • Achieve zero-emissions transportation methods.

It also prioritizes the engagement of NPS employees, partners, visitors, stakeholders, and communities to support and participate in sustainability, climate resilience, and environmental justice initiatives.

In order to participate, park managers must initiate the following actions:

  • Milestone 1: Submit a CFP Application to express interest in the program and identify the park CFP team.

  • Milestone 2: Complete a GHG Inventory to develop a baseline emissions inventory for park operations.

  • Milestone 3: Conduct a CFP Workshop or webinar training to provide park staff, partners, and stakeholders with an educational opportunity to learn more about the potential impacts of climate change on park resources and discuss response strategies.

  • Milestone 4: Complete a CFP Action Plan or Comprehensive Environmental Management System to outline planned sustainability and climate change response actions as well as educational initiatives to help educate visitors.

Source: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/climatechange/cfpprogram.htm#memberparks


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Photo: Sea Camp campground bathroom renovations remain ongoing (April 2023).


Did you know that the NPS’ Night Skies program has been measuring night sky brightness since 2001?

This interactive map shows the locations where data has been collected. Note: The most recent (and only) data entry entered for Cumberland Island is dated 2018.


  • Have you ever dreamed of owning a waterfront restaurant in downtown St Marys? Now’s your chance!

  • Google Maps has announced new National Park map features that users may find helpful. What do you think about them?

  • Booz Allen’s five-year contract for Recreation.gov is up for renewal this year.
    • In their original bid, the company estimated it would make $87 million over a period of five (5) years, but it has made over $140 million in just the first four (4). (Wall Street Journal, April 2023)

    • U.S. Rep. and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (R-MT) sent a letter to the NPS asking for a full investigation of the Booz Allen contract for Recreation.gov (as well as a halt to the Glacier reservation system) pending an investigation by his office. (The Western News, April 2023)

  • Are fees starting to commercialize the parks in a way that is unethical? (National Parks Traveler, April 2023)

  • Read about the extensive challenges that Arches National Park has faced with visitor use. It’s a long piece, but worth your time. (Corner Post, April 2023)

  • Whoa! The NPS has been ranked as one of the worst places to work within the federal government. (Backpacker.com, April 2023)


Join Wild Cumberland for a Virtual Trivia Night Fundraiser! Challenge your island knowledge with us for the cause! 

More details coming soon. 


Wendy Barnes Promo - 20% OFF

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