If this proposal moves forward, rockets would be launched over Cumberland Island National Seashore, putting park resources and visitors at risk.
After a two-year review process, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released their draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding a proposal to build and operate a commercial space launch site in Camden County, Georgia, less than five miles from Cumberland Island National Seashore. In the draft EIS, the FAA recommends issuing a license to allow the county to operate the proposed launch site as the “preferred alternative.” This would allow commercial operators to launch 12 rockets annually over the north end of Cumberland Island National Seashore.
Statement by Emily Jones, Southeast Campaign Director, National Parks Conservation Association
“Despite potential impacts to public safety, air quality, wildlife and cultural resources, the FAA has put commercial interests above the preservation of Cumberland Island National Seashore – a national park site that protects nearly 4,000 years of human history, endangered wildlife and vast wilderness.
“If this proposal moves forward, rockets would be launched over Cumberland Island National Seashore, putting park resources and visitors at risk. Flaming debris and fuel from exploding rockets could fall on to the park, causing catastrophic damage to the historic and archaeological treasures it holds such as the First African Baptist Church, which was established in 1893 by African American founders born into slavery and freed after the Civil War.
“The proposal also calls for evacuation for rocket launches and testing. Closures could last up to 12 hours on each launch day and up to three hours for each test and rehearsal, which could happen up to 36 times per year. The National Park Service has expressed great concern about the impact that such evacuations could have on the operation of the park and its thousands of annual visitors. Closures and other restrictions associated with the project threaten the visitor experience, and consequently the local outdoor recreation industry and local businesses that receive an estimated $2.6 million per year from park visitor spending.
“Cumberland Island National Seashore belongs to all Americans and we must protect it so that future generations have the opportunity to experience the unspoiled serenity of this national treasure. The FAA’s final EIS must prioritize public safety and protection of the cultural, environmental, recreational and economic values Cumberland Island National Seashore provides. There are suitable sites for spaceports throughout the county but next to this national park is not one of them.”
About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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