Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cumberland Island: Wild and Untamed

Cumberland Island, St. Mary's, Georgia

Stop 5 of the VolunTOUR

We were transported to a long ago time and a different era once we set foot upon the shore of Cumberland Island, Georgia. Cumberland is an island that is larger than Manhattan island and features an ecosystem as diverse as the island's history. Settled as a cotton growing area in the 1800's, Cumberland housed a number of large plantations. These eventually gave way to purchase of most of the island by the Carnegie family. The Carnegies controlled Cumberland for many years, and their control eventually led to an amalgamation of private and federal ownership. Today, the National Park Service controls and manages most of the island. They were kind enough to welcome us to Cumberland and show us around.

We traveled around the island and saw the landscape change from sandy seashore to maritime forest; massive dunes to subtropical brush. We were met by the native inhabitants: armadillos, alligators, and wild horses call Cumberland home. We even briefly spotted a bobcat in the Wilderness area. As much as the day was about recognizing the magnificance of the island, it was even more impressive to learn of the exploits and positive impact that Cumberland volunteers bring to work every day. Because the island is such a massive and dynamic area, the Park Service staff relies upon the crucial support of their volunteers to keep the island in shape and its visitors well cared-for. We distributed some Take Pride awards to recognize some outstanding volunteers. Their efforts were obvious, and their passion for Cumberland was unmatched. Many thanks to the volunteers, and a special thanks to the National Park Staff that made our visit so memorable. Special thanks to Debbie and Ginger!

No comments: