Cumberland Island on Georgia's coast is famous for its untouched, natural landscape. Tourists from around the United States and the world visit the island specifically for its wilderness.
Most of Cumberland's 36,000 acres are protected by federal legislation that preserves the island in its "primitive" state. But some of the island is privately owned and several property owners are applying to Camden County authorities for rezoning to build houses.
Deron Davis, Georgia Director of the nonprofit Nature Conservancy, said his group doesn't want to comment on what zoning on Cumberland Island can or should look like.
However, Davis said, "We are simply saying we believe the natural state of the island is the better state for the visitors to the island as well as for the private land owners there, who value those natural resources."
Davis said Cumberland Island is home to many endangered species and wants the private land owners and developers to understand that.
"We want the county to really recognize what a unique resource they're dealing with," he said. "This is a unique global resource, so how they think about it needs to bring that sort of special attention to bear."
The Camden County commission is currently considering the rezoning requests and is working through negotiations between environmental groups and the private property owners.
An attorney for the property owners declined to comment.