climate change comes to my island

Barrier islands are shapeshifters, they twist and turn and roll over on themselves under the forces of wind and water and weather. With a healthy salt marsh on its landward side, and the sea pounding at its front, Assateague is a typical barrier island.

Unlike the beaches to the north, Rehoboth, Ocean City etc, Assateague is wild. It maintains its health through the forces that have worked on it for millennia. When New York suffered massive floods in a hurricane, Chincoteague boarded up its windows, watched some water come up, watched it go back out, and went back to business. Chincoteague was protected from massive devastation by the outlying barrier of Assateague and by healthy salt marshes.

One of my favorite camping spots is North Beach, the northern, Maryland end of Assateague, the only part of the wild island you can camp on. Camping is limited, the island is only so big, and disturbing the natives is the Nope Train to Nopeville. Some of the natives are endangered like DelMarVa fox squirrels and piping plovers, some is feral, like the wild ponies that wander through the camp.

With sea level rise comes a new challenge to the island.

The island is not sinking, not like Tangier or Smith in the Chesapeake Bay, or some south Pacific islands… it will keep rolling over landward while new sandbars crop up seaward.

The island moves, so the camp ground has to move too.


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