Atlantic and Gulf Coasts Recreation Area Survey
NPS Logo


The task assigned, "to identify the major remaining opportunities for conservation of natural seashores or coastal areas for recreational or other public purposes", necessitated consideration of certain factors which, combined with the exercise of judgment, formed the basis of the selection of the major areas.

The seashore is a limited and diminishing resource of scenic and scientific interest, of first rank importance in the natural heritage of the Nation. But so much of the seashore has been pre-empted by commercial and private developments that the term major, in some cases, is difficult to define.

If a length of seashore was observed to be undeveloped, or at least only sparsely developed in relation to the density of improvements within the general vicinity, it automatically became eligible for consideration. And if it possessed qualities of vastness, contrast, picturesqueness, or a combination of those intangible elements that are generally recognized as contributing to inspiration, understanding, and appreciation it was judged to be worthy of further study and consideration as an area of first importance. Or if the undeveloped section contained unique biotic communities that were in a natural, unmodified condition, or could become wholly natural if left undisturbed for a reasonable period of years, it was considered worthy of preservation and further study as an area of first importance.

Undeveloped areas that possessed these scenic values or biotic communities to a lesser degree, or whose natural qualities had been impaired, were considered to be worthy of preservation but, perhaps, of less than national concern.

It is realized that these appraisals were relative and for practical reasons had to be based largely on the informed judgment of the survey technicians and others consulted, such as State park directors, university professors, Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, State historians, and others.

The suitability of these undeveloped areas was further evaluated by judging whether they were (1) of such character as would accommodate the number of visitors that might be anticipated if the areas were properly protected, developed, and administered, and (2) if they were adaptable for development and operation as public recreational areas.

It was understood that the preliminary reconnaissance could do little more than spot the remaining major undeveloped areas along the shoreline. The areas that appeared to have the greatest potentialities were to be given as much study as time and funds permitted.

The shoreline was determined to be the general shoreline, in accordance with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey type of measurement for this classification, i.e., the shoreline of bays and sounds included to a point where such waters narrow to a width of a unit measure (30 nautical miles or 34.5 statute miles).

During the period of plane and ground reconnaissance, a report form was used (copy included in appendix) which provided opportunity to list certain essential descriptive material necessary in judging the values of an area. In addition, other information was written on the geodetic sheets, as the areas were seen from the air and observed on the ground.

Insofar as possible, the following kinds of data were collected for each area;

I. Physiographic Features.

A. Scenic values: the degree of inspirational qualities of seascape and landscape and the likelihood of attracting visitors from great distances.

B. Length and width of area and shore: the extent of undeveloped or only sparsely developed land and seashore.

C. Extent, type and condition of vegetative cover.

D. Dunes: location, extent, stability, height.

E. Bays, sounds, and ponds (fresh and salt): extent, marine and vegetative life, waterfowl habitat.

F. Salt marshes: wildlife habitat, biotic communities.

G. Beach (surf, ocean, bay and sound sides).

1. Extent: length, width.
2. Slope: gentle, steep.
3. Condition: sand, gravel, rock, texture, color, debris.
4. Degree of erosion.

H. Foreshore: degree of slope, undertow or riptide conditions.

I. Geologic formations: cliffs and rock formations, extent and type.

J. Water: color, cleanliness, amount of surf, tide, pollution.

II. Adaptability for Use.

A. Present land use.

1. Developed portion.
   a. Extent and type.

2. Undeveloped portion.
   a. Extent and type, including adequate space for parking, services, and structural facilities.
   b. Degree of deterioration caused by adverse influences.
      1. Timber cutting.
      2. Grazing.
      3. Oil and gas operations.
      4. Hunting and trapping.

3. Roads: type, condition, extent, ease of access from main highways.

B. Accessibility: areas reached by car or that can be connected by road without excessive costs; cost of making isolated areas accessible.

C. Relationship to population centers: the density of population within the area from which a high percentage of visitors might be drawn.

D. Relationship to areas of similar character: existing seashore areas that may be serving the same centers of population, adequately or inadequately.

E. Estimated value of land: extent of improvements, accessibility, degree of surrounding real estate activity.

F. Estimated availability of area for public use: pattern of ownership, number of holdings, likelihood of owners placing holdings on market.

G. Insect and arachnid problem: the extent of activity, whether tolerable or unbearable.

III. Natural History.

A. Scientific values.

1. Biotic communities in a natural, unmodified condition.

2. Biotic communities that can be wholly natural if left undisturbed for reasonable period of years.

3. Biotic communities that harbor rare or unique species of either plants or animals.

4. Biotic communities that are important as a breeding ground for birds or other animals.

B. Recreation values.

1. Biotic communities that:
   a. Provide esthetic qualities.
   b. Produce shade.
   c. Are conducive to nature study and photography.

IV. Historical and Archeological.

A. The role of the site in history: political, social, economic, cultural--and whether significant to local, regional or national affairs.

B. The role of the site in archeology.

1. Its contribution to knowledge of historic and prehistoric times.

2. Prospects of artifacts in the site.

C. Extent of visible remains, atmosphere of original character and association retained.

D. Adaptability to interpretation.

E. Sites adjacent which might strengthen its importance.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 25-Jun-2007