“One-fifth of all the people in our Nation live within an easy day's drive of Assateague. And now as the result of your labors--you, the
farsighted Members of Congress--these wide sandy beaches will be the people's to enjoy forever.”
“For the rest of this century, the shoreline within reach of the major cities of this country just must be preserved and must be
maintained primarily for the recreation of our people.”
-Lyndon B. Johnson, September 21, 1965 (At the Signing of a Bill Establishing the Assateague Island Seashore National Park)
If you are concerned about limited access to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague National Seashore, let your voice be heard!
Click here to see how you can make your comments.
This web page is intended to facilitate community awareness and involvement in regards to future access and usage of Assateague Island, Virginia. It is our hope that not only the local community get involved,
but also the thousands of visitors that love Chincoteague Island. There is strength in numbers. Chincoteague needs YOU to help make a difference! At the bottom of this web page you will find a list of contacts.
Please let your voice be heard! Time is of the essence. We do not have much time to voice our opinions.
NOTE: This is not an official Town of Chincoteague web page. This web page is sponsored by Chincoteague.com. The goal of the this web page is to keep the public informed about the ongoing
planning process by the NPS and FWS which will eventually affect public use and access of Assateague Island, Virginia.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Park Service (NPS) share management of Assateague Island. They are each working on separate plans that will
effect Assateague Island usage and access by the public. The NPS plan is called a "General Management Plan" (GMP). The FWS plan is called a "Comprehensive Conservation Plan" (CCP).
In August 2011, both the FWS and NPS released their preliminary plans. It should be noted that these plans are preliminary drafts and the finalized plans are set to be released next year.
Both the draft GMP and the draft CCP include four alternatives for public use and access to Assateague Island.
Click here to download the FWS draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP).
Click here to download the NPS draft General Management Plan (GMP).
Note: The FWS CCP will have the most impact for public usage and access on the Virginia side of Assateague Island, as the FWS has the most control over the Virginia portion
of Assateague Island. The NPS GMP includes new closures and regulations that will impact local watermen. The GMP closures and regulations would be implemented within a 1/2 mile
boundary around Assateague Island, waters historically controlled and regulated by the state of Virginia.
Many in the community, especially local business owners, are very concerned that many aspects of these new plans will be detrimental to the community of
Chincoteague. Chincoteague's tourism industry, which relies on beach access and the wild ponies, will be especially vulnerable under the proposed FWS CCP.
Note: Assateague Island, Virginia is the only public beach access from the Maryland side of Assateague Island to Virginia Beach, Virginia. This is approximately 100 miles of coastline. The FWS
owns most, if not all, of the barrier Islands south of Assateague Island, all the way to mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. All of this land is closed to the public and is set aside soley for bird habitat
and other wildlife. The residents of Chincoteague Island simply want to maintain our existing recreational beach, which is approximately 8.5 acres of beach parking lots and off road
Each of the four alternatives within the overall FWS CCP are different. From our study of the FWS draft CCP, it is our opinion that the following
would have a negative impact Chincoteague Island.
Note: The above list was compiled from our reading of the various alternatives within the FWS draft CCP. They do
not all neccesarily come from any one alternative. However, we do not yet know which alternative the FWS will choose. They could combine aspects of the
various alternatives into a final plan. It is our opinion that there are many negative aspects to each of the four alternatives within the FWS draft CCP.
We feel that any of the proposed changes listed above would reduce the recreational experience of Assateague Island. A reduced recreational experience would leave Chincoteague less able
to compete with nearby beach towns. This would lead to a reduced tax base, reduced real estate values, and an overall degradation of the community. JUST THE THREAT OF THESE PROPOSALS
BECOMING REATLITY IS CAUSING STRESS FOR MANY IN THE COMMUNITY.
Click here to read the October 2011 Beach Access Newsletter
from the Town of Chincoteague.
to read the Town of Chincoteague's official response to the Fish & Wildlife Service CCP, submitted October 3, 2011.
Click Here to read the Town's official response to the proposed NPS GMP, submitted on September 9, 2011. The letter
outlines aspects of the proposed NPS GMP that the Town 'Strongly Oppose', aspects that the Town 'Support', and also requests addtional information in certain areas.
Click Here to read a letter from Chincoteague Mayor Jack Tarr to Refuge Manager Lou Hinds, on December 7, 2010.
Mayor Tarr's letter outlines the Town of Chincoteague's official input during the public scoping phase of the FWS CCP process.
The following was released on Thursday September 1, 2011 by Mrs. Donna Mason (Waterside Inn), head of the (non-government) Beach Access Committee.
The following should be included in ANY and EVERY proposal:
Beach Access Survey Results:
In 2010 the Town of Chincoteague conducted a 'beach access' survey of visitors to Chincoteague Island. The town collected over 2,400 responses that represent over 11,500 people.
The questionnaire was widely distributed through emails, our business community, civic organizations, and online. Click here to
view the results of the beach access survey.
Click Here to watch the video "Piping Mad".
Click here to watch other short video clips
from "We The People" of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Comments from an article written about Mr. Lou Hinds work when he was the Refuge Manager of J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida...
"Several years ago when asked whether he had any public uses that were incompatible with wildlife, he produced a list longer than that by any other refuge. It
included wildlife observation, photography, hiking, cycling, birding, mosquito control, and commercial fishing."
"Hinds and his staff were determined to solve the compatibility issues through regulation, and they are doing so. Although they complained, crabbers are no longer
allowed to enter the impoundments."
"Buses and mopeds were eliminated from Wildlife Drive, and all traffic is prohibited on Fridays."
The full article can be found
Comments from Refuge Manager Lou Hinds concerning the Chincoteague Ponies on Assateague, in an article about the Pony Swim in Parade magazine...
"This is a sensitive habitat, and the ponies are a feral species."
"In the short term, the herd is sustainable, but that is without taking into consideration any change in the habitat."
The full article can be found
If you are concerned about limited access to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague National Seashore, let your voice be heard! Contact the FWS, the NPS, and your local elected officials.
At a minimum we recommend doing the following:
Next, go to the following online email forms and directly input your comments.
Written comments can be sent to:
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
ATTN: CCP Coordinator
P.O. Box 62
Chincoteague, VA 23336
More contact information is provided below.