Cumberland 2011 Service Trip

Beach cleanup, trail maintenance part of MLK King weekend service trip

Carrying trash bags and clippers, a group of Georgia Conservancy volunteers got to work over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Their goal: maintaining Cumberland Island, one of the state's most spectacular places.

The nearly three dozen people spanned out across the island, cleaning six miles of beaches and servicing nine miles of trail. They cleared a section of overgrown palm fronds and vines from a historical structure. And they helped take down a 30-foot Christmas tree at the historic Plum Orchard mansion.

To see more photos from the trip, click here.

The Georgia Conservancy has been organizing annual service trips to Cumberland for the past three years.

Our partners for this year's trip were the National Park Service, Students Endeavoring for Enlightened Environmental Decisions (Seeed), Keeping it Wild and the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. The trip was sponsored Recreation Equipment Incorporated and engineering firm Atkins Global. Tools for service projects were provided by the Atlanta Community Toolbank.

"It's important to bring people to Cumberland, where they can experience the island's stunning natural beauty and help preserve it for future generations," said Bryan Schroeder, the Georgia Conservancy's membership director.

The Georgia Conservancy has long worked to protect Cumberland Island National Seashore, which is run by the U.S. National Park Service.

"The Georgia Conservancy service trip means a great deal to Cumberland Island, because we are so dependent on volunteer support to do many work projects on the island that we couldn't do otherwise," said Fred Boyles, superintendent of the Cumberland Island National Seashore. "These trips are incredibly valuable."

The weather remained chilly over the weekend, so most participants slept in dorms on the island. But a hardy group of 10 backpacked on the island and camped outdoors.

The backpacking trip was made possible with help from REI's Outdoor School and Seeed, a consortium of environmentally aware students and recent graduates from Atlanta's historically black colleges and universities.

The backpacking trip was led by Morehouse student James King, who attended our Cumberland trip last year and pledged to bring a group of friends back to the island this year.

"It was wonderful being able to share that experience," said King. "They loved the nature. They were just mesmerized about seeing wild horses."

Christie Hattersley, Foundation Coordinator for Atkins Global, said the Atkins Global Foundation is proud to support endeavors like the Cumberland trip that advance communities and support environmental education programs.

"We are glad our support can have an impact on the lives of the students involved - not only for this specific weekend, but as they consider a life of work in the environmental field, " Hattersley said.