Management Strategies for National Seashores


The national seashores of the National Park Service are classified as recreational areas, but preservation of natural resources was often included as an important criterion for establishment in their enabling legislations. In the first national seashore, Cape Hatteras, early management relied upon a policy of shoreline stability. Construction of large barrier dunes, following the Hatteras model, proceeded along many seashores. At Hatteras, millions of dollars were spent in futile efforts to maintain a static dune-dike in the face of sea level rise and concomitant erosion. Research at Cape Lookout National Seashoe provided a different perspective toward barrier island management, which stressed their dynamic character. The new management strategy reflected an effort to live with and adjust to the natural processes that shape barrier island landscapes. This management concept was interpreted to mean "let nature take its course", and attempts were made to apply the idea uniformly to all national seashores. Instead, this management policy needs to be applied selectively, and not arbitrarily across the board. The policy can only be effectively applied to areas where natural processes have not been severely interrupted. Where the barrier dynamics have been significantly altered so that nature cannot restore an equilibtrium, then different management approaches must be employed. A flexible strategy is needed for each Seashore, recognizing the inherent geographic variability of the mandates and constraints for each park. This paper considers these factors for several northeastern seashores and provides a perspective to the management programs that must be tailored for each area.


16 pages; p. 322-337 in Coastal '78.


coastal zone management, resource management, national seashores