Southeastern Section - 60th Annual Meeting (23–25 March 2011)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


YORK, Linda L., Natural Resources Division, U.S. National Park Service, Southeast Regional Office, 100 Alabama St. S.W, Atlanta, GA 30303 and BEAVERS, Rebecca L., Geologic Resources Division, U.S. National Park Service, Natural Resource Program Center, 12795 West Alameda Parkway, Denver, CO 80225,

The National Park Service manages coastal lands along more than 12,000 miles of shoreline in 84 parks within the United States and U.S. territories. Climate change adaptation to sea level rise and storms will continue to be a challenge to coastal National Parks, particularly those in North Carolina. As a primary architect of our detailed knowledge of the geology of the North Carolina Coast, Dr. Stan Riggs has helped equip the coastal NPS units in North Carolina with a wealth of knowledge that many other coastal parks are striving to obtain.

Much of Stan’s long-term research along the Outer Banks has occurred within Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores. His research has greatly contributed to our understanding of the evolution of the modern coastal system of the Outer Banks, and the influence of the underlying paleo-topography on this evolution and on the way that modern coastal processes affect the barrier islands and mainland coastline. As a result of Stan’s extensive research of the coastal system, resource managers at both Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores have a much better understanding of the modern coastal system in which they work, and the factors that influence the coastal processes. This invaluable information is relevant to both current and future management decisions, and has placed the park managers in a much better position to plan for the potential local impacts of climate change.

Stan’s work in coastal North Carolina has provided other barrier island national parks along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts with a template to pursue a greater understanding of their geologic resources. Gulf Islands National Seashore is one example where Stan’s geologic framework studies have influenced the direction park management chose to investigate the park’s barrier islands. Stan’s studies have introduced the concept of understanding an island’s geologic framework as a first step in proper barrier island management, management ranging from determining the proper location of park infrastructure to the expected island response to sea level rise. The holistic management of a park’s barrier island resources demands this knowledge and understanding. Stan’s geologic framework studies are the model of what we would like to provide all coastal barrier island parks in the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.