"As the Sea Rises, Will a Prized National Seashore Wash Away?"

"Cape Hatteras National Seashore has long been one of the jewels of the U.S. parks system, as managers worked to protect beaches and marshes amid an influx of tourists. But now rising sea levels, severe erosion, and a shifting shoreline are raising questions about its future."

"On a recent spring morning, Dave Hallac probably should have been at his desk in the regional offices of the National Park Service in Manteo, North Carolina, reading mail and going over budgets. But this was no ordinary time for the superintendent of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which encompasses 67 miles of rolling sand dunes, pristine beaches, and sprawling salt marshes and is considered one of the jewels in the nation’s network of over 400 national parks, seashores, and other sites.

In recent months, five houses had crashed into the Atlantic Ocean along a two-mile stretch of Rodanthe, one of eight resort villages embedded within the National Seashore. Historically, the area has some of the highest rates of erosion on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, due in part to seas that have risen about one foot in the last century. Contractors had hauled away debris from the private properties. But a miles-long trail of trash — some of it dangerous — spewed along the Seashore’s nearby beaches.

“There was wood, concrete, exposed septic tanks,” Hallac recalled. “People stepped on nails and pipes. We even had a kitchen sink wash up on the Seashore miles from where one house collapsed.”"

Gilbert M. Gaul reports for Yale Environment 360 June 27, 2023.

Source: YaleE360, 07/05/2023