In early March 2017, Andy Nadeau and Kathy Allen of GSS visited Cumberland Island National Seashore off the coast of southern Georgia to kick off a Natural Resource Condition Assessment (NRCA) for the park. GSS worked with NPS staff to develop a framework for the project, spent a day and a half touring and learning about the park, and discussed the natural resources and issues that will be included in the report. Cumberland Island is known for its extensive beaches and dunes, which support nesting loggerhead sea turtles and endangered shore bird species, as well as live oak maritime forests and salt marshes. Access to the island is by boat only and is limited to 300 visitors per day. Highlights of the visit were sightings of alligators, a manatee, and numerous waterbirds!
Components selected for the NRCA were four ecological communities (upland forests, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, and interdune communities), mammals, birds, herpetofauna (with a focus on sea turtles), air and water quality, and barrier island geomorphology. The geomorphology component will address concerns about shoreline change, especially erosion on the back barrier side of the island, and dune migration/loss. The NRCA will not only summarize existing data and information for these resources, it will also identify research needs or "data gaps" that would help inform park management decisions in the future.