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Shoreline FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the North Shoreline


Cockspur Island is seen from a bird's eye view, showing its location between the two channels of the Savannah river and the effects of erosion on its geography. Foliage can be seen in the interior of the island.
Aerial View of Cockspur Island in 1998

NPS Photo

Why can’t I access the shoreline? The Cockspur Island North Shoreline is an ecological restoration area. It may surprise you to know that much of the North shoreline is not a product of natural forces. It is, in fact, dredge material which was put in place in late 2015 to provide a buffer against erosion to the historic North pier and the Cockspur island coast. The shoreline was never intended as a recreation area. The areas along the shoreline are home to shorebirds that nest, feed, and rest in the marshes and sand. Many of the species using the shoreline are of conservation concern and the National Park Service is responsible for ensuring that human impact on their activity is minimized. The North channel of the Savannah River is an active shipping lane which presents hazards to human visitors and their pets when large ships come to and from the city. Guests who wish to view the Historic North Pier and the river may still do so via the trail, but are expected to respect signs and barriers preventing access to the shoreline. Violations can and will result in a citation by park law enforcement.
Men work with equipment and machinery to create a sandy shoreline on a cloudy day. Marsh grasses can be seen in the foreground; a river drifts lazily in the background.
Modern workers used equipment and machinery to create the Cockspur Island shoreline.

NPS Photo

How does human activity impact the shoreline? Always remember that the North channel of the Savannah River is an active shipping lane! Ships of all sizes, but particularly very large container ships, are constantly traveling past our island. When they pass us, they displace enormous amounts of water which inundates the shoreline and mudflats by the North Pier. The movement of this water erodes the island and its historic structures, and also creates a dangerous environment for guests and pets. Human activity on the shoreline – particularly recreation activities – can keenly disturb or displace wildlife that increasingly comes to rely on the shoreline as well as vegetation which helps to stabilize the shoreline.
Men are shown working on creating the Cockspur Island shoreline on a nice day. Marsh grasses and trees appear in the foreground; a river and forested land can be seen in the background.
Workers observe progress on the North shoreline.

NPS Photo

Where else can I walk my dog and enjoy the day at the park? The North Pier Trail remains open; it offers a short walk with fantastic scenery and benches at the trail’s end for relaxing amid the sea breeze. The Historic Dike System trail and Fort Perimeter trail offer a lovely walk under Georgia’s open sky and remain open for your pleasure. And, of course, historic Fort Pulaski remains open to guests and their pets. Watch our homepage and social media for information relating to the ongoing closures of the Cockspur Island Lighthouse and McQueen’s Island trails.
A mature white great egret stands in marshy water surrounded by foliage, stalking for prey.
A great egret stalks its prey.

NPS Photo

For up-to-date information on which bird species are using the island, click here.

Last updated: March 15, 2021