Friday, August 28–Meetings Set On Assateague Island’s Future

ASSATEAGUE – With an eye on the future, Assateague National Seashore officials are embarking on a process to develop a general management plan for the barrier island for the next 20 years and are soliciting the help of those who use the park the most to participate in the process.

Assateague Island National Seashore Superintendent Trish Kicklighter this week announced the beginning of a process to develop a General Management Plan (GMP) for the barrier island for the next 20 years. All national parks are required to have an approved GMP in place to act as a guide for making management decisions that will affect them over a period of 20 years or more.

Assateague’s GMP will be developed over the next several months in a several step process ending with the release of a final plan and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the public. While the general public, those who use the park, will be the major benefactors at the end of the process, public participation at the outset is paramount to its success. In an open letter to all Assateague Island National Seashore stakeholders this week, Kicklighter invited the public to play an important role in the development of the new GMP for the barrier island.

“We’re encouraging you to take time from your busy schedule to participate in this important process to share with us your vision of the park’s future,” wrote Kicklighter.

The superintendent further encouraged local residents and visitors to the park to weigh in on the things they enjoy most about the park and what should be improved.

“How can we best protect the seashore’s resources while continuing to provide recreational opportunities?” the letter reads. “This is where you come in. Share your thoughts. This is your National Seashore. This is your opportunity to help create the vision for the next 20 years.”

Assateague’s new GMP will provide a framework to guide decisions for natural and cultural resources protection, appropriate types and levels of visitor activities, and appropriate facility development. There will be a number of opportunities for the public to participate in the development of the plan beginning next month with a series of three public information meetings and open houses.

The first will be held on Sept. 21 at Wor-Wic Community College from 4-7 p.m. The second will be held on Sept. 22 at the Sarbanes Coastal Ecology Center near the entrance to the park, also from 4-7 p.m. The third will be held on Sept. 23 at the Chincoteague Community Center from 4-7 p.m.