Welcome to www.n-georgia.com Fort Pulaski Ecoture in Tybee Island Georgia - About 90% of Fort Pulaski National Monument is classified as wetland. With over 4800 acres of salt marsh that are covered twice daily with nutrient-rich marine waters.
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Over 4800 acres of salt marsh that are covered with nutrient-rich marine waters that preserves and protects a sizeable portion of one of the most productive and prolific ecosystems.
Cockspur and McQueens Island
Located only a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the waters within the park’s boundaries are teeming with shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels and the usual variety of fish found in southern coastal estuaries. The monument protects some of the most pristine resources in the area, as indicated by the presence of Class 1 waters for recreational harvest of shellfish.

However, neither of the islands that make up the site have escaped the influence of man. Between them, Cockspur and McQueens Islands are composed of approximately 500 acres of dredge spoil. The vegetation that has developed on these spoil deposits and altered marshlands is similar to many other sites adjacent coastal navigation routes in the southeast.

The high proportion of non-native species associated with these disturbed habitats is typical and to be expected. Interestingly enough, the maritime forest that has developed on the central part of Cockspur Island displays a high degree of natural integrity. The island offers a particularly good opportunity to study the influences of man on the natural processes of a saltwater estuarine ecosystem.
Wildlife at Fort Pulaski
The salt marshes and upland areas of Fort Pulaski National Monument support many species of wildlife. If lucky you may catch a glimpse of one of the 11 Protected Species that have been identified at the park. These are: American oystercatcher, bald eagle, gull-billed tern, least tern, loggerhead sea turtle, manatee, peregrine falcon, piping plover, swallow-tailed kite, Wilson’s plover and woodstork.

White-tailed Deer - Fort Pulaski National Monument supports a thriving population of white-tailed deer which can be seen grazing in the early morning and late afternoon throughout Cockspur Island.
Raccoons - Raccoons also inhabit Fort Pulaski National Monument and can be viewed throughout the park grounds, often enjoying a visit to the picnic area after hours.
Bottlenose Dolphin - Keep a close watch on the Savannah River! You might catch a glimpse of Bottlenose Dolphins swimming the channels around Cockspur Island, as well as off the beaches of Tybee Island.
Otter - The River Otter has a streamlined, muscular body with short legs, webbed toes and a long muscular tail. A river otter’s tail makes up 30 to 40% of the total length of its body. The river otter has a round, small head, short yet powerful legs, and large whiskers. Otters can sometimes be seen along the Savannah River off Cockspur Island.
Mink - A mink is any of several furry, dark-colored, semi-aquatic, carnivorousmammals of the family Mustelidae, which also includes weasels and otters. It is naturally found in North America, and can be seen along the banks of the Savannah River as well as close to the fort’s moat.
Ft Pulaski Ecosystem at Tybee Island GA

Although reptilian life abounds at Fort Pulaski there is little chance that visitors will come in contact with them during a short visit to the park. The most common snakes at Fort Pulaski are the yellow rat snake, black rat snake, corn snake and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, of which only the Eastern Diamondback is poisonous. Rat snakes may surface at times inside Fort Pulaski itself.

The Diamondback Terrapin, a small turtle, might be seen around Cockspur Island. Occasionally alligators may be seen basking in and around the fort moat. The tidal waters surrounding Fort Pulaski contain the usual variety of fish typical of southern coastal estuaries.

Fort Pulaski National Monument supports many species of birds. While visiting, you may catch a glimpse of one of the many protected species that have been identified at the park, including: American oystercatcher, bald eagle, gull-billed tern, least tern, and woodstork. Large populations of both resident and migratory birds are present. The park provides nesting habitat for the painted bunting, a species of special concern due to loss of neotropical wintering grounds. A glimpse of this colorful and secretive bird is a treat you will not soon forget.

Other bird species found on Cockspur Island include:
Pelican, Comorants, Heron, Egret, Ibis, Brown Pelican, Double-creasted Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Great-backed Heron, White Ibis, Geese, Ducks, Vultures, Hawks, Eagles, Falcons, Vultures, Hawks, Eagles Falcons, Lesser Scaup, Hooded Merganser, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, American Kestrel, Doves, Owles, Swifts, Kingfishers, Woodpeckers. Doves, Owls, Hummingbirds, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Chimmey Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Nothern Flicker, Common Barn Owl, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Buntings, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Orioles, Finches, Buntings, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Orioles, Finches, Nothern Cardinal, Painted Bunting, Savannah Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Orchard, Oriole American, Goldfinch Starlings, Vireos, Wood Wabblers, Starlings, Vieros, Wood Warblers, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Nothern Mockingbird, Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Praire Warbler, American Redstart Rails, Gulls, Rails, Gulls, Shorebirds, Northern Bobwhite, Clapper Rail, Black-belled Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Willet, Red Knot Dunlin, Dowitcher, Common Snipe, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Royal Tern, Common Tern and Foster's Tern
Plants - Trees & Shrubs
When the first soldiers arrived at what is now Cockspur Island to begin construction of the fort the landscape was noticeably different than what we see today. In the early nineteenth century the island would have been primarily salt marsh with some coastal hammock forest. In order to develop the island for defense, the installation of drainage canals and a dike system modified the island.

During this time any existing vegetation would have been removed to enhance visibility. Later, dredge spoil from the Savannah River was deposited on the island, further impacting the natural scene. Since the abandonment of the fort in the late eighteen hundreds, a considerable portion of Cockspur Island has reverted to maritime forest. A visitor to the Monument today will find approximately 250 acres of upland areas which support a mosaic of maritime forest, shrub communities, maintained grasslands and successional spoil deposit areas. In addition, the island includes over 350 acres of tidal marsh.

At approximately 4,800 acres, McQueens Island makes up the largest portion of land holdings for the National Monument. With the exception of the Hwy. 80 causeway and the old Tybee Island railroad grade, McQueens Island consists of salt marsh. As one enters the Monument on Hwy. 80, smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) stretches almost as far as the eye can see. Green during the warm growing season and brown at other times, this salt marsh plant thrives in areas between high and low tides that are regularly flooded.
Environmental Factors
The past history of Cockspur Island in regard to its alteration by man for fortification and spoil deposits is reflected in the number of non-native species found here. In addition, the close proximity to the port of Savannah and the long history of maritime trade along the Savannah River provides further opportunities for species not native to the area to become established.

68 species of plants have been recorded at the Monument that would be considered non-native. Many of these non-native species have been introduced in the landscape of dredge spoil and maintained grass areas for so long that they may be considered naturalized.

On the other hand, eighteen species have been recorded on the site that would be considered of concern to management because they tend to be invasive or disruptive to natural communities. Of these, Chinese tallow-tree (Sapium sebiferum) and China-berry (Lonicera japonica) are, perhaps, the non-native species of greatest concern. Although both of these species are well established on spoil deposits on Cockspur Island, they are not well established yet in the mature, maritime forest in which the park nature trail is located.

The only species of non-native animal known to exist at the Monument are the house mouse (Mus musculus), black rat (Rattus rattus) and European starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Of these only the starling is probably considered a species of concern. Starlings can impact natural food sources that native species utilize, as well as compete with native birds for cavity nesting sites.

Pests are those species that interfere with the purposes of the park such as protecting cultural or natural resources, or visitor safety. The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program at Fort Pulaski involves several pest control techniques stressing physical and biological controls. Chemical controls will be considered only after elimination of all other available options. The following park species are considered pests: salt marsh mosquito (Aedes taeniarhynchus and Aedes sollicitans), German cockroach (Blattella germanica), American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), fire ant (Solenopsis geminata Fabicius), (Solenopsis xyloni McCook), (Solenopsis invicta Buren), black rat (Rattus rattus), eastern subterranean termite (Reticulotermes flavipes Kollar), common drywood termite (Cryptotermes brevis Walker), and bagworm (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis).

The Monument contains some of the most pristine resources in the area, as indicated by the presence of Class 1 waters for recreational harvest of shellfish. However these waters are potentially threatened by a variety of problems. Of utmost concern is contamination from the numerous industrial sources upstream on the Savannah River which, in the vicinity of metropolitan Savannah, include wastewater treatment plants, chemical producers, a natural gas processing facility and a paper mill. Further upstream is the Savannah River Site, a nuclear weapons production facility notorious for contamination of the Savannah River and its tributaries. In addition, port facilities in Savannah require substantial dredging of the main channel of the Savannah River adjacent to the northern boundary of the Monument.

During the dredging process contaminants sequestered in the sediments are reintroduced to the water column, threatening the re-suspension of pollutants. Additionally, the park is concerned about the impacts of dredging activities on shoreline erosion along the north shore of the Monument. The close proximity of the shipping channel to significant cultural and natural resources raises the prospect that unchecked erosion may threaten the resources the park is mandated to protect.

With the Monument being only a short distance from the ocean, and due to the area’s low relief, Fort Pulaski is one of the highest points in the immediate area in which to obtain a view. With this being the case, atmospheric visibility and thus pollution are a management concern at the park.

In cases of low visibility due to weather conditions or manmade pollution, there is the potential for a negative effect on visitor’s perceptions and enjoyment of the resource. Likewise, poor air quality has the potential to impact the natural resources of the Monument. The local flora and fauna are true barometers of the pollution problems stemming from the greater Savannah area. The most sensitive area is that of the salt marsh, which contains vast numbers of organisms. In addition, air pollution could possibly affect the endangered species which are known to inhabit the area.

Visitor Information - 912-786-5787
Operating Hours, Seasons & Phone Contact
Fort Pulaski National Monument is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Park hours may vary during the summer. Fort Pulaski National Monument is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Regular Hours:
Visitor Center open 9 AM-5 PM
Fort open 8:30 AM-5:15 PM
Bridge gate closes by 5:30 PM
Summer Hours: (Memorial Day - mid-August)
Visitor Center open 9 AM-5:30 PM
Fort open 8:30 AM-6:30 PM
Bridge gate closes by 6:45 PM
*Please be aware of park hours and closing times. Remember! All vehicles must be across the Cockspur Island Bridge by closing time.
Fees & Reservations
Individual Fees $3 entrance fee charged for all visitors 16 years of age and older. 15 years old and under free. Receipt valid for additional 6 days of visitation. Teachers desiring an educational fee waiver must submit the request one month prior to the group's anticipated visit.
Directions to Fort Pulaski
From I- 95, take exit for I-16 about 15 miles west of Savannah. From I-16, take U.S. Highway 80 East. Follow signs for Fort Pulaski, Tybee Island and beaches. Fort Pulaski National Monument entrance is approximately 15 miles east of Savannah.
Cockspur Lighthouse

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