CUMBERLAND ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE VISITOR USE MANAGEMENT PLAN
SUPPORT INCREASED VISITOR CAPACITY AND EXPANSION OF ACCESS TO CUMBERLAND ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
Cumberland Island National Seashore maintains the primitive, undeveloped character of one of the largest and most ecologically diverse barrier islands on the Atlantic coast, while preserving scenic, scientific, and historical values and providing outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation and solitude.
Support the expansion of the daily visitor capacity for the island and encourage additional access to and around the island with increased visitor services and enhanced experiences. All while striving to continue protection of the island’s natural, cultural, and scenic resources.
- Increase the maximum visitor capacity of the island from 300 visitors per day, which is too restrictive, while achieving and maintaining the desired resource conditions and visitor experiences that are consistent with the purposes for which the area was established.
- Encourage expansion of access to and around the island with increased and extended trail development and guided tours to include year-round daily ferry service. Cumberland Island can easily accommodate additional visitation to areas that are currently restricted by ease of access. Allowing expanded visitor capacity and increased frequency of ferry stop points (Dungeness, Sea Camp, and Plum Orchard Mansion) will allow for a diversity of visitor experiences without causing harm to the habitat and beauty that all guests visiting the island enjoy.
- Increase visitor services by offering basic supplies such as fishing gear rental, kayak rentals, bug spray, sunscreen, and book sales.
- Develop additional activities and experiences available on the island, in addition to the very popular Land and Legacies tours. Suggestions could include: Visitor interpretation talks on the ferry trip to the island, Research-based tours with island biologists to educate visitors on the island’s unique herpetology (reptiles), botany, biology, and bird-watching opportunities, in addition to guided history and natural habitat tours. Provide and encourage more educational and school group's access to the island for learning experiences. Educating the next generation to the special features on Cumberland Island will build support for preserving those resources for future generations.
- Increase the number of ferry trips to/from the island. Disperse visitor arrivals and departures by increasing the frequency of ferry trips while decreasing the number of visitors on individual ferries with smaller and faster ferry boats. Deliver ferry service to the island seven days a week during all months. Additionally, this will allow for all physical activity abilities and age groups to visit the island and make facilities, programs, and services accessible and usable by all people.
- Increase visitor amenities, such as restrooms and showers near the beach area and/or conversion of the carriage house for public access. Provide additional picnic tables and shade pavilions. Develop additional comfort stations and viewing platforms. Increase camp sites and trails that can be made more accessible by kayak, canoe or bicycles.
- Expand camping opportunities, both front country and back country camping, and available permits. By adding more campsites in the back country, hikers will be more dispersed and therefore the wilderness experience will be improved and solitude opportunities increased. The visitor capacity number allowed to daily visit the Island should not include those who are camping that night.
- Ensure that Cumberland Island remains a unique, undeveloped national treasure that all of the general population can visit and enjoy.
- Promote advocacy for Cumberland Island to retain its legacy and natural beauty. Expanding visitation will engage more advocates for Cumberland Island.
- The local, regional and state economy will benefit from the impact that increased island visitation and expanded tourism can bring to our local businesses.
A newsletter outlining Cumberland Island National Seashore's visitor use management project, related issues, and potential management options currently being considered. Opportunities for public comment are also highlighted: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/showFile.cfm?projectID=73577&MIMEType=application%2Fpdf&filename=CUIS%5FVUM%5FSCOPING%5FNEWSLETTER%5FSPRING%5F2019%5FMarch%5F21%5F2019%5F508%2Epdf&sfid=361568
Visitor Management Plan: https://www.nps.gov/cuis/learn/management/vump.htm
Submit Comments: The NPS is also encouraging online submissions of comments, suggestions, and concerns. To be considered official correspondence, comments can be:
- Submitted online (preferred method) at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=94027,
- Mailed to the park headquarters at Cumberland Island National Seashore, 101 Wheeler Street, St. Marys, GA 31558, or
- Hand-delivered to the Mainland Visitor Center located at 113 W. St. Marys Street in St. Marys GA (Comment cards are available at the Mainland Visitor Center)