So far, only the Gulf Coast National Seashore has seen oil on its barrier islands. But park officials from Louisiana for Florida's space coast are bracing for more oil.
From Louisiana's Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Reserve to the Canaveral National Seashore on Florida's space coast, the region's national parks and marine sanctuaries are preparing for the possible arrival of oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and Gulf oil spill, now into its eighth week.
So far, the the Gulf Coast National Seashore – a string of barrier islands and submerged ecosystems off Mississippi and the western shores of Florida's panhandle – appears to be the only National Park Service location in the Gulf region to take a direct hit from the burgeoning oil spill.
Even there, the oil's arrival has been patchy. The seashore's website proclaims that the park is still open to visitors. Where oil is coming ashore on the beaches, it arrives with the tide and ebbs with the tide, leaving residual oil that's fairly easy to clean up.
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But with their legal mandate to preserve plants, animals, and marine life, as well as sites of historical value within their boundaries, park officials aren't waiting until oil laps at their beaches, marshes, and mangrove forests to lay plans for dealing with it.
Parks in the region "have done a fantastic job" gearing up for the the oil's possible arrival, says John Adornato, who heads the National Parks Conservation Association's "Sun Coast" regional office in Hollywood, Fla.
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