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Assateague Nat’l Seashore turns 50

(Feb. 12, 2015) This year marks the 50th anniversary of Assateague Island National Seashore and the public is invited to celebrate.
Activities are planned each month this year. Event highlights are listed at for highlights and also may be found by “liking” Assateague on Facebook at AssateagueNPS.
Assateague Island was identified in a 1934 survey by the National Park Service and Department of the Interior as one of 12 areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts suitable for a national seashore recreation area.
Numerous bills supporting establishment of the national seashore were introduced annually to Congress but with no action taken. In 1943, the Fish and Wildlife Service, another federal bureau interested in Assateague, and the Department of the Interior established the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Virginia end of the island.
In the intervening years, most of the Maryland portion of Assateague was purchased for private development. Residential construction, road and infrastructure development were well under way, including a failed attempt to build a bridge to the island.
On multiple occasions, Maryland proposed creation of a state park on Assateague without result. Then, in 1956, the developer donated 540 acres to Maryland in exchange for creation of a new state park and construction of a bridge. But in March 6, 1962, a powerful storm hit Assateague, washed over the island and destroyed most of the development’s roads and structures.
The infamous “Ash Wednesday” storm provided an unexpected opportunity for the Department of the Interior to acquire the remaining portion of Assateague Island as a national seashore.
Assateague Island National Seashore was officially established Sept. 21, 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Most of the Maryland district is managed by the National Park Service as Assateague Island National Seashore.
The state manages two miles of the Maryland district as Assateague State Park. The Virginia district is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The National Park Service operates the Toms Cove Visitor Center and a recreational beach within the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
Assateague Island is one of the largest and last surviving mid-Atlantic barrier islands containing intact coastal habitats where the full range of natural processes occur with little or no human interference.
The 32,000 acres of marine and estuarine waters within the seashore are a protected vestige of the high quality aquatic ecosystems that once occurred throughout the mid-Atlantic coastal region of the United States.  
The seashore’s habitats support a broad array of aquatic and terrestrial species, many of which are rare, uniquely adapted to life at the edge of the sea, and dependent upon natural ecosystem processes undisturbed by humans. Amidst the highly developed Mid-Atlantic region, the seashore’s coastal resources provide unique opportunities for nature-based recreation, education, solitude and inspiration.
In 2013, the park saw 2,056,827 visitors who spent an estimated $84.3 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,052 jobs in the local area, accord to the Park Service.