Public Comments Sought On Proposed Bayside Changes

ASSATEAGUE — Ironically as Assateague Island National Seashore was bracing for the potential arrival of Hurricane Joaquin, National Park Service officials on Wednesday announced the public comment period was now open on the proposed plan to relocate the bayside picnic and parking areas in the Maryland district.

In the wake of severe damage caused during Hurricane Sandy three years ago, Assateague Island National Seashore officials embarked on a plan to relocate some of the manmade structures on the barrier island including the bayside picnic areas and parking areas in the Maryland district of the National Seashore. The intent was to move the parking and picnic areas to locations that are more sustainable, less exposed to the elements and less susceptible to damage from future storm events.

In the many months since, a series of public workshops were held, during which the National Park Service heard how visitors value the bayside picnic and parking areas and welcomed ideas for a more functional and sustainable long-term use of the popular areas on the island. Borne out of those public sessions was an Environmental Assessment (EA), which outlines plans for the future relocation of the picnic and parking areas.

AINS officials announced on Wednesday the public comment period on the EA is now open and will remain so for the next 60 days.

“We really appreciate the public’s input into this project,” Assateague Island National Seashore Superintendent Debbie Darden said. “We want the public to comment on our alternatives so that we can choose the strategy that will best provide for enjoyment and resiliency over time at the bayside.”

The purpose of the project is to plan for the future relocation of the Bayside Picnic and Parking Area to a site less susceptible to damage from future storm events, minimize the impact to natural resources, and allow for sustained visitor access and recreational use of this area of the national seashore. A public meeting will be held Oct. 17 at 10 a.m. in the park’s Environmental Education Center on Seashore Lane. NPS officials will be available to answer questions about each alternative and collect additional public input. Comments on the plan can also be emailed to the park or posted online at: