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Gulf oil spill: What's the impact on national parks?

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.

A bird walks along the oil boom at the Gulf Islands National Seashore on Pensacola Beach, Fla.. Oil boom is piled up on the beach and is used to close the Pensacola Pass. Tar started washing onto beaches along the Florida Panhandle last Friday.

Michael Spooneybarger/AP

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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.

IN PICTURES: Places where the Gulf oil spill has made landfall

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