Old buildings and the new wilderness
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This thesis examines the projects of wilderness conservation and historic preservation as they interact to shape the landscape of Cumberland Island National Seashore on the Georgia coast. The National Park Service is obligated to protect both wilderness and historic resources, but when the two coexist they expose an ideological and functional divide between celebrating a place supposedly free from material human impacts and perpetuating human impacts deemed historically significant. The politics of balancing wilderness and human history on Cumberland Island are investigated through the analysis of interviews, legislative texts, and federal wilderness and historic preservation law. It is suggested that while federal laws accommodate the overlapping operation of both projects, funding deficiencies and entrenched assumptions about public access defining the social value of historic sites make this balance politically unstable.