The Subtitle on this one is – How an historic Nor’easter, and Act of Congress, and then eleven more years of political battle turned back development from one of the largest barrier islands on the East Coast.
Assateague Island, which stretches from Maryland all the way into Virginia celebrates its 50th year as a National Seashore this year. If you know this area, you know what a gem this is and here is an excellent historical account of how it came to be in this Maryland Coast Dispatch article. It is long but I urge you to read it.
The short version is that development was planned for the island, land was purchased, surveyed, subdivided, roads were paved, thousands of lots were bought, some were developed. Sound familiar? The State of Maryland was interested in establishing a State Park on the Maryland side and that finally happened in a sweetheart deal with a developer. The developer “donated” 540 acres for the park in exchange for the State building a bridge so people could get to his developments. Then the 1962 Ash Wednesday Storm hit. The development was more or less obliterated. Previously attempted efforts to establish a National Park / National Seashore were renewed and in 1965 that finally happened. But the legislation establishing the National Seashore did not completely halt all commercial and residential development, so once again developers pushed forward.
A visionary citizen named Judy Johnson created the Committee to Preserve Assateague and a member of Congress advised her that the only way to keep development off the island was to change the enabling legislation that established the National Seashore. Eleven years later, she was finally successful and we all have her to thank.