NO ROCKETS OVER PROTECTED WILDERNESS AREAS
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Demand that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and the FAA stop local officials from launching rockets over a federally-protected Wilderness Area.
Cumberland Island National Seashore and Wilderness Area is a natural resource that belongs to all of us. A few local officials should not be able to make a decision that impacts EVERY citizen and the habitat of multiple threatened and endangered species.
This spaceport is an attempt to bolster the Camden County economy, but it jeopardizes its most valuable natural resource — one that belongs to all of us: the largest federally-protected Wilderness Area on the Eastern Seaboard and Cumberland Island National Seashore.
Endangered sea turtles nest on its shores, which featured record-breaking nesting numbers in 2019. It is home to the longest-running loggerhead turtle project in the world; conservationists still travel there to collect data in an effort to preserve these species.
The island is a major stopping point on the transatlantic migratory flyway, with more than 335 species of birds recorded; threatened and endangered species include Bald Eagles, Wood Storks, Wilson's Plovers, and American Oystercatchers. Its waters guide whales and manatees through migration, and endangered North Atlantic right whales calf close offshore.
Even a small rocket launch could send flaming debris and toxic material from the sky, destroying the habitats of threatened and endangered species while setting fire to centuries-old maritime forests.
The tidal marshes surrounding the proposed site have been called a “buffer zone” by spaceport promoters. Tidal marshes are a vital and supremely productive component of the estuarine ecosystem. Toxic spills into or explosions over the marshes would have disastrous consequences for our economy and environment.
Allowing a private, for-profit spaceport to launch over a protected Wilderness Area sets a dangerous precedent for ALL Wilderness Areas in the United States.
The FAA received a record-breaking number (over 15,000) of public comments opposing this project in 2018 -- ranging from individuals and conservation groups to the National Park Service. Still, they have decided to move forward with their final decision - with NO additional opportunity for public comment.
By doing this, the FAA is declaring wilderness a part-time designation, superseded by the interests of private stakeholders. Wilderness is self-willed land, specifically reserved by statute, to have unequivocal precedence over technology, commerce and human manipulation - full-time.
When the Wilderness Act was established in 1964, our predecessors could not anticipate the need to shield Wilderness Areas from assault by private companies launching rockets — but the intent of the act is clear. These spaces are to be preserved, free of human degradation, in perpetuity.
This mainland launch site was previously used for the manufacture of hazardous pesticides and explosives. It is located only eight (8) miles from Kings Bay US Naval Base, home port for the US Atlantic Ballistic Submarine Fleet with its nuclear deterrent.
A partial list of the environmental laws that protect this natural resource includes:
- Wilderness Act (1964)
- Cumberland Island Wilderness Legislation (1982, 2004)
- Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) 1982
- Georgia Coastal Management Program
- GA Shoreline Protection Act
- GA Marshland Protection Act
- Migratory Bird Act
- Endangered Species Act of 1973
- Marine Mammal Protection
- Standard manatee protections
- National Environmental Policy Act of 1969
- Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972
- Section 10 of the Rivers & Harbors Act
- Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
ALL WILDERNESS AREAS AT RISK
All other units of the National Wilderness Preservation System will be threatened with similarly destructive threats if this precedent cannot be turned back. Sign your name to demand that officials stop rockets from launching over this federally-protected Wilderness Area.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and the FAA have the authority to stop this dangerous project in its tracks.
Learn more and take further action: www.norocketsoverwilderness.org
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