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Contact: Regina P. Jones-Brake, 410-629-6061
Tropical Storm Ida may be just a weather memory to some; however, the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service are still repairing the damage on Assateague Island caused by the storm. Repairs in the Maryland District are pretty much completed with over 1,800 tires and 40 tons of debris removed from the beach. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be completed in the Virginia District. “The National Park Service has requested approximately $550,000 in emergency funding to rebuild the Virginia parking lots on the beach and if the funding is approved and the weather cooperates we will have them open in time for the summer season”, according to Assateague Island National Seashore Superintendent Trish Kicklighter.
The National Park Service, working closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service, has already started some of the preliminary repairs in order to get a couple of the parking lots open as soon as possible. However, they will wait until the threat of Nor’easters has passed for the season before they finish all four lots. Parking lots #1 and #2 will be relocated a little to the west in order to provide better protection from over wash by the ocean. Parking lot #3 will be reconfigured to tie into parking lot #2 and parking lot #4 will remain in the same location as last year.
“Keeping the parking lots on the beach is not a sustainable solution. We must find an alternate location on more stable land that is not threatened by rising sea levels or frequent storm damage”, said Superintendent Kicklighter. The National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service are both developing long range management plans that will try to find a more permanent alternative for visitor parking. “At this point we have not identified an alternative site for the parking lots. But one thing is for sure, before we abandon the parking lots on the beach we need to have the new parking lots built so there will always be ample parking for Island visitors. Both the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service realize how important those parking lots are to the local community and county” said Superintendent Kicklighter.