National Geographic : 2016 Dec
The Parks of Tomorrow 109 Accidental or not, these modest adaptations were the beginning of something broader. The seashore is now one of the first national parks in the country to explicitly address—and accept—the effects of climate change. Under its draft general management plan, the park will not try to fight the inevitable: It will continue to move as the island moves, shifting its structures with the sands. If rising seas and wors- ening storm surges make it impractical to maintain the state-owned bridge that connects Assateague to the mainland, the plan says, park visitors will just have to take a ferry. when congress Passed The acT creaTing the National Park Service in the summer of 1916, it instructed the agency to leave park scenery and wildlife “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future gen- erations.” The law did not define “unimpaired.” To Stephen Mather, the charismatic borax magnate who served as the first director of the Park Service, it meant simply “undeveloped.” Early park managers fol- lowed his lead, striving both to protect and to promote sublime vistas. But the arguments began almost as soon as the agency was born. In September 1916 the prominent California zoologist Joseph cape hatteras national seashore, north carolina Sea-level rise Just off the coast, Hatteras Island forms a slender barrier between the mainland and the open ocean, as Assateague Island does off Maryland and Virginia. Rising seas and intensifying storms are narrowing Hatteras, damaging habitats and historic struc- tures and threatening to expose the mainland to the storms’ full fury.