People and the Coast

People on a Beach

 

Wilderness Preservation

Coasts are unique places with exceptional environments, such as marshes and estuaries. As such, they can host wilderness areas with rare, and sometimes endangered, species of plants and animals. Preserving wilderness areas has therefore become an important activity along the coast.

Undeveloped barriers, such as Assateague Island on Maryland's Atlantic coast, provide nesting grounds for birds. Some of these migratory birds, including the piping plover, are endangered species.

Salt marshes and swamps along barrier coasts are important nurseries for marine wildlife. Mangrove coasts, such as the Everglades in Florida, are crucial habitats for all manner of fish, shellfish, birds, and mammals. Coral reefs rival tropical rainforests in their biological complexity, and they have undergone significant degradation worldwide due to natural and man-made factors.

In response, coastal areas are increasingly being protected and preserved. Everglades National Park and Assateague Island National Seashore are just two examples of wilderness preservation efforts along the coast. The value of wilderness areas along the coasts continues to grow as man-made developments increase.


Reviewed 27 Sep 2016

Assateague Island

Assateague Island
Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Undeveloped Barriers

Assateague Island is one of the last undeveloped barriers along the Atlantic coast. It provides unique outdoor opportunities along the urbanized East Coast, and it is within a day's drive for tens of millions of people.