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Cape Hatteras NS: Climate change impacts may extend to the existence of the park itself

On a recent spring morning, Dave Hallac probably should have been at his desk in the regional offices of the National Park Service in Manteo, North Carolina, reading mail and going over budgets. But this was no ordinary time for the superintendent of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which encompasses 67 miles of rolling sand dunes, pristine beaches, and sprawling salt marshes and is considered one of the jewels in the nation’s network of over 400 national parks, seashores, and other sites.

In recent months, five houses had crashed into the Atlantic Ocean along a two-mile stretch of Rodanthe, one of eight resort villages embedded within the National Seashore. Historically, the area has some of the highest rates of erosion on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, due in part to seas that have risen about one foot in the last century. Contractors had hauled away debris from the private properties. But a miles-long trail of trash — some of it dangerous — spewed along the Seashore’s nearby beaches.

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