Assateague Island
Administrative History
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Chapter III:

Although the act authorizing Assateague Island National Seashore was a significant conservation victory, it was widely recognized as a compromise. As with most compromises, none of the parties involved was entirely happy with it. "We felt we had to sell—oversell—economic benefits to the local communities," Stewart L. Udall later confessed, characterizing the connecting road and concessions development requirements as a trap we built for ourselves to get the legislation enacted." [1] When there is dissatisfaction there tends to be resistance, sometimes to the point where—if circumstances have changed sufficiently—the compromise is discarded for a new beginning. This was what happened with Assateague.

If Secretary Udall had built a trap, he was determined to keep out of it as long as possible. "I think it important. . .to make it clear to the people on the Virginia end that the actual building of this road has a low priority in our development program," Udall wrote George Hartzog in August 1966. "It is my own feeling that it would be improvident to build a road until a successful dunes stabilization program is well under way. There are other reasons why the road should have a low priority, but it seems to me that the absence of a protective barrier dune is a most compelling argument for the present. The Park Service director in turn pleased Director John S. Gottschalk of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife (BSFW) by confiding that he had no intention of requesting appropriations for the connecting road from Congress. In this position he was fortunate to have the sympathetic understanding of Representative Julia Butler Hansen, chairman of the House subcommittee on Interior appropriations. [2]

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Last Updated: 27-Oct-2003