Assateague Island National Seashore embraces "one of the largest and last surviving Mid-Atlantic barrier islands possessing a continuum of intact coastal habitats where the full range of natural processes occur with little or no human interference." How should the National Park Service continue to manage that property?
That's a pertinent question now as seashore officials are preparing to revise their General Management Plan, a document that will guide Park Service management of the seashore for the next two decades. To that end, seashore officials are wondering how best they can manage this resource in a way that both preserves the natural resources and at the same time provides "high quality, nature-based recreational opportunities?"
There are, of course, some obvious answers. The pony herds that call the seashore home should be preserved, fishing opportunities -- both access and, if at all possible, maintaining the fisheries -- should be supported by the management plan, and negative impacts should be addressed. But beyond that? How should the management plan address climate change? Is there anything that can be done to protect the national seashore and the species that call it home, either year-round or as a migratory stopover, against the predicted rise in sea levels or stronger storms? Are there cultural resources that need to be protected in place or moved to higher ground? Are there roads that need to be rerouted?
Are some areas of recreation being neglected? Are some inappropriate for the seashore?
This planning process was kicked off earlier this fall. The seashore is taking public input through this Wednesday, December 30, to help it draft alternatives of the GMP. By fall 2010 the seashore hopes to have preliminary alternatives available for public review. A final version is not expected until Winter 2012.
You can find some additional information at this site, where you also can submit your comments.