Proposed Camden Spaceport
Camden County is seeking economic development by building a facility to launch rockets from an abandoned, rural munitions plant a few miles west of the Cumberland Island National Seashore.
The area where the spaceport is to be built is east of I-95 and borders one of the highest functioning estuarine ecosystems on the East Coast, where the Satilla River empties into St. Andrews Sound. Many threatened or endangered species are found on and around the spaceport property, including bald eagles, wood storks, right whales and indigo snakes.
Building a spaceport is an unusual proposition, which makes it more important for Camden County and the FAA to explain to the citizens of the County what to expect from the project. On January 14, 2016 the Georgia Conservancy submitted a comment letter as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scoping process for Spaceport Camden. There continue to be significant concerns based on the very limited amount of project information released to date. It is unclear from development details how the project will benefit the County or what financial impacts it may have for Camden's citizens.
Given the lack of design and operational information for the Spaceport the Federal Aviation Administration consultant charged with drafting the EIS has a big job, which might explain why it has taken over a year to develop the, yet unreleased, environmental document. The Georgia Conservancy will look to the EIS to use science to address the issues, such as environmental impacts for the project and any related development the project may bring to this ecologically-important area of Camden County.
Our concerns center on the following general topical areas
- Environmental issues at a larger scale (regional),
- Impacts to adjoining sites and landscape scale natural resources (including National Park wilderness), and
- Site-specific development, mitigation and conservation measures
A separate but related issue for the project is addressing property rights and park operations related to “launch exclusion areas” that require periodic evacuations on Little Cumberland and Cumberland Island National Seashore.
The Georgia Conservancy looks forward to the upcoming opportunity to review project plans and understand the long term vision Camden County has for this ecologically-important area of the lower Satilla River.
Stay tuned: 2017 will be an important year for this project. The Georgia Conservancy will immediately update our website and inform our membership when the EIS or significant new information is released.