Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I took a little trip to Assateague Island (connected to the community of Chincoteague Island on the Eastern shore) a few weeks ago. There the beaches are vast and austere, and if you are willing to walk a little bit, you can get away from the crowds. The island is a nature preserve, so you will not have access to bars with cool drinks, swimming pools or showers to wash away salt spray, and indoor plumbing. The port-a-potties are clean and in the parking lot. You must haul your own crap...whatever you cannot live without on a day at the beach.
There are 14,000 acres of protected beach, saltwater marsh, and fresh water marsh to enjoy. About 1.5 million visitors make their pilgrimage to this island every year, but, as you can see, you can still get away from it all if you want. Behind the beach area are very important bird nesting and bird migration habitats.
You can see in the photo above that this beach faces an ocean on the move. Those spindly trees were behind protected dunes at one time. The surf does not care for trees or marsh grass in its path to the South. A severe Northeaster hit last year and removed the parking lots and much of the dunes which are precious bird nesting areas. Since it costs the American taxpayer $600,000 each time parking areas, made only of gravel and crushed shell, must be rebuilt, easy access to this long beach is becoming more tenuous each summer. An additional threat is that the land mass is shrinking and the ocean is rising due to global climate change. By 2100 there are predictions this may all be underwater. It is all just grains of sand sifting in time.