Assateague Island
Administrative History
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Appendix B:



Pertaining to the Administration,
Development, and Use Of
The Tom's Cove Hook Area
Within the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge—
Assateague Island National Seashore


WHEREAS, the Chincoteague NWR on Assateague Island was established in 1943 for administration by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, and

WHEREAS, on April 1, 1959, under authority of P.L. 85—57, the Fish and Wildlife Service entered into an agreement with the Chincoteague—Assateague Bridge and Beach Authority whereby certain refuge lands constituting what is known as Tom's Cove Rook were assigned to the Authority for the purpose of developing and operating a public beach and recreational facility. The deed of easement also provided for the construction and maintenance of a bridge and access road across the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge to the Tom's Cove Hook area, and

WHEREAS, P.L. 89—195 approved on 9/21/65, as amended; 16 U.S.C. 459f, provides for the establishment of Assateague Island National Seashore in the States of Maryland and Virginia, and

WHEREAS, Section 2(c) of P.L. 89—195 authorized the Secretary to acquire all of the right, title, or interest of the Chincoteague—Assateague Bridge and Beach Authority, in the bridge constructed by such Authority across the Assateague Channel, together with all lands or interests therein, roads, parking lots, buildings, or other real or personal property of such Authority, and such right, title, and interest have been acquired by the National Park Service, and

WHEREAS, certain lands and waters within the Virginia portion of Assateague National Seashore are subject to the rules and regulations of the National Park System contained in Title 36 CFR, and

WHEREAS, Section 6(b) of the same public law states "Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, land and waters in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, which are a part of the seashore, shall be administered for refuge purposes under laws and regulations applicable to national wildlife refuges, including administration for public recreation uses in accordance with the provisions of the Act of September 28, 1962 (Public Law 87—714; 76 Stat. 653)." P.L. 87—714, known as the Refuge Recreation Act, reads in part: "...if such recreational opportunities are provided, to assure that any present or future recreational use will be compatible with, and will not prevent accomplishment of the primary purposes for which the said conservation areas were acquired or established, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized, as an appropriate incidental or secondary use, to administer such areas or parts thereof for public recreation when in his judgement public recreation can be an appropriate incidental or secondary use: Provided, that such public recreation use shall be permitted only to the extent that is practicable and not inconsistent with other previous authorized Federal operations or with the primary objectives for which each particular area is established:..."

WHEREAS, by interim agreement dated October 21, 1966, between the Regional Directors of the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, the National Park Service assumed the assigned responsibilities of the Chincoteague—Assateague Bridge and Beach Authority, pending development and approval of a comprehensive master plan and completion of a subsequent Memorandum of Agreement between the two agencies.

WHEREAS, the 1976 Amendment to the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act (Pub. L. 94—223) states "...areas are hereby designated as the 'National Wildlife Refuge System' (referred to herein as the 'System'), which shall be subject to the provisions of this section, and shall be administered by the Secretary through the United States Fish and Wildlife Service." Subsequent solicitors' opinions, discussing the effects of Pub. L. 94—223, recognize the authority of the Fish and Wildlife Service to cooperate with other Federal agencies to carry out the Service's responsibilities on National Wildlife Refuges, and that the National Park Service may administer programs for public recreation and use in the Tom's Cove Hook area so long as these programs have the approval of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and

WHEREAS, since passage of P.L. 94—223 invalidated previous agreements between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service for administration of the Tom's Cove Hook area, this area has been operated by the two agencies under a field Memorandum of Understanding dated June 23, 1976, between the Refuge Manager and the Seashore Superintendent.

WHEREAS, during the preparation of the comprehensive plan for the protection, management, and use of the seashore, as required by Pub. L. 94—578, alternatives for changes in management responsibilities for the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service on Assateague Island were studied and discarded by the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, resulting in a decision that each agency will maintain a role in the management of the Tom's Cove Hook area (as described below and depicted on a map attached), hereinafter referred to as the "Assigned Area" under a new Memorandum of Understanding to be completed in the summer of 1979.

"Assigned Area"—The area bounded on the north by the wildlife fence adjacent to the main parking lot, on the east and south by the Atlantic Ocean extending to Fishing Point, and on the west by the waters of Tom's Cove to and along the canal in Swan Cove adjacent to the same main parking lot (see enclosed map).

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of and compliance with the foregoing legislative and executive directives, that within the "Assigned Area," it is mutually agreed that the National Park Service may, subject to approval of the Fish and Wildlife Service, assume the responsibility for the execution of items hereinafter described in this memorandum in PART II, the Fish and Wildlife Service will assume responsibility for the execution of items in PART III: and the two Services will jointly assume the responsibility for the items contained in PART IV:


THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE will, in accordance with the Comprehensive plan, dated August 1979:

  1. Provide and manage visitor contact and interpretive facilities and programs on a day—use basis for public recreation and interpretation including, but not limited to, swimming and associated beach uses, fishing, crabbing, and clamming.

  2. Be responsible for road construction, and maintenance and for drafting all required construction permit applications.

  3. Initiate temporary traffic closures at the entrance to the Tom's Cove Hook Area as necessary and inform Fish and Wildlife Service personnel when such closure is in effect.

  4. Provide for the protection and safety of the visiting public including, but not limited to, law enforcement, motorist assistance, fire prevention/suppression, first aid, and protected beaches.

  5. Issue special use permits for periods when the area is closed to public entry for activities including, but not limited to, overnight fishing and beach parties. Evening interpretive programs that extend beyond closing will be supervised by uniformed personnel who will assure that all participants clear the area upon termination of the program. Issue special permits for the hike—in camp site on refuge subject to clearance in advance from the refuge.

  6. Maintain sand dunes in accordance with approved Departmental policy.

  7. Be responsible for the maintenance of the fence delineating the north boundary of the main parking lot and that portion that serves as the ocean vehicle barrier.

  8. Obtain concurrence from the Fish and Wildlife Service, through the Refuge Manager, prior to initiating planning for the expansion or modification of existing, or the development of additional, recreational, interpretive or support programs and facilities in order to assure compatibility with primary refuge objectives. Completed plans for such programs and facilities must be submitted through the Refuge Manager for approval by the Fish and Wildlife Service prior to implementation.

  9. Be responsible for collection of entrance data and make such data available as needed for Fish and Wildlife Service Reports.

  10. Be responsible for regular maintenance and litter control in the "Assigned Area."

  11. Provide and maintain a system of signs in accordance with provisions of Part IV 4.

  12. Offer for sale within the "Assigned Area" educational or interpretive items which are complimentary to the objectives of the Seashore and the Refuge or reinforce the goals of the two Services in accordance with the Fish and Wildlife Service policy on "Cooperating Associations." Photographic film may be sold if not available at sites within reasonable driving distance. The Regional Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, or his designated agent, must approve all items offered for sale.

  13. For those lands and waters subject to Title 36 CFR, both within and without the "Assigned Area", issue to qualified Fish and Wildlife Service personnel, upon request of the refuge manager, law enforcement commissions authorized pursuant to the Act of October 7, 1976 (Public Law 94—458; 16 U.S.C. 1a-6). Enforcement activities under this provision will be in accordance with National Park Service policy and procedures.

  14. Collect on behalf of the FWS appropriate user fees established for the "Assigned Area", under the authority of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (as amended).



  1. Publish all public use regulations pertaining to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (including the "Assigned Area") under Title 50 CFR, after consultation with the National Park Service. To the degree possible regulations and penalties governing the Maryland and Virginia portions of the Seashore shall be uniform.

  2. Issue deputy commissions for the enforcement of Title 50 regulations to qualified National Park Service law enforcement personnel, who have been designated by the National Park Service for enforcement responsibilities in the "Assigned Area." All enforcement activities within the "Assigned Area" will be in accordance with Fish and Wildlife Service policies and procedures, under the authorities delegated to the Special Agent in Charge, District 11.

  3. Retain primary responsibility for managing the wildlife resources within the "Assigned Area," with the understanding by both agencies that recreational use programs will be planned and carried out to minimize impacts on wildlife resources. The Fish and Wildlife Service will consult with the National Park Service before carrying out wildlife management practices within the "Assigned Area" that might impact approved recreational programs.

  4. Utilize the authorities of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act to establish and administer an appropriate system for recreational user fees, recognizing that such fees are an effective management tool. Reimburse the National Park Service for any agreed upon costs incurred during collection of such fees.

  5. Designate, away from the corrosive forces of the ocean front, a vehicle and/or equipment storage space for use by the National Park Service.

  6. Be responsible for maintaining all stock fences within or bordering the "Assigned Area."

  7. Be responsible for all research and photographic permits issued within the "Assigned Area", and inform the National Park Service of the conditions of such permits.



  1. Exchange copies of incident reports within 24 hours. Personnel of each agency will immediately notify the other agency about incidents, problems, or violations of regulations observed or reported which affect the other agency. Neither agency will assume the responsibility to act on behalf of the other agency unless specifically requested to do so. This provision shall not preclude immediate response to emergencies by qualified personnel from either Service.

  2. Provide the necessary personnel to assist in managing traffic closures initiated by either agency upon request, and for any emergency situation.

  3. Permits issued by either agency shall be honored by the other for those uses that are authorized and for which the fees are consistent on both areas.

  4. Prepare a sign plan that will meet the management needs of the "Assigned Area", without strict adherence to standard plans of either agency. Agency identification will not be indicated on signs except for the entrance sign at the bridge and at the entrance to the "Assigned Area", where both agencies will be given full recognition.

  5. Share operational facilities and equipment to the extent practical. Either agency may initiate a request for the temporary use of an item of equipment or a facility subject to recall, to meet the responsibilities of the controlling agency.

  6. Coordinate the collection of public use statistics to meet the reporting format and dates of each agency.

  7. Coordinate prior to publication or release all publications, leaflets, and/or news releases that pertain to the "Assigned Area." In appropriate cases, coordinate the use of joint publications and releases.

  8. Develop working procedures to implement this Memorandum, such procedures to be decided cooperatively by the Seashore Superintendent and Refuge Manager and, as necessary for understanding and guidance of their respective staffs, jointly prepared as a written, signed directive as a supplement to this Memorandum. The Superintendent and Manager shall meet as necessary, but at least quarterly, to review working procedures and questions regarding compliance. Should the Superintendent and Manager fail to reach agreement on working procedures, or questions of compliance, required to implement this Memorandum, the area of disagreement will be reviewed by the Fish and Wildlife Service Area Manager for resolution. If the Area Manager's decision on the dispute is not acceptable to the Superintendent or Manager, the matter will be referred to the respective Regional Directors for resolution.

  9. Schedule an annual meeting, at a mutually acceptable time and place, of the Seashore Superintendent and Area Manager, along with appropriate staff, for a formal review of operations under this Memorandum, including but not limited to compliance with conditions of the Memorandum and working procedures, problem areas, coordination of programs and plans for the next year, proposed amendments to the Memorandum, etc. Any areas of disagreement that cannot be resolved between the Superintendent and Area Manager shall be referred to the respective Regional Directors for resolution.

Date: October 19, 1979 Date: October 26, 1979
Regional Director
Northeast Region
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Director
Mid—Atlantic Region
National Park Service

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Last Updated: 27-Oct-2003