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Padre Island National Seashore

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A mile or so from the park entrance, a shop called Worldwinds Windsurfing rents windsurfing equipment and kayaks (361/949-7472)—perfect for exploring the Laguna Madre. A sign outside the shop speaks to the island’s popularity.
If there’s one idea that capitalists and socialists, liberals and conservatives alike can agree upon, it’s that public lands are a great concept: vast stretches of land, untainted by development, protected not only for Americans, but for citizens of the world who venture to our shores.

Most everyone loves the Miami-like excitement and chaos of South Padre Island, but how fortunate also to have North Padre Island, home to Texas’ only national seashore, which exists in stark, quiet contrast to its busy neighbor to the south. Geologically, Padre Island is one island—divided by the creation of the Mansfield Channel in 1957—but the two halves couldn’t be more different. On North Padre, you’ll find blissful solitude: The national seashore bears the spectacular distinction of having the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier-island beach in the world (some 130,000 acres stretched along 70 miles). And it’s right here in Texas.

In its brief history, North Padre Island has been home to wandering tribes of Karankawa and Malaquite Indians, Spanish explorers, a Catholic priest (Padre José Nicolás Ballí, for whom the island was named), and various cattle-ranching operations. It wasn’t until 1962 that Congress earmarked the island for conservation and the shared enjoyment of present and future citizens.

Lady Bird Johnson, known widely for her love of wildflowers and other natural treasures, dedicated the seashore herself, on April 6, 1968. She said at the time, “Padre Island presents one of the last remaining opportunities for this nation to preserve such a length of beach in its natural state …to preserve…a place where future generations of Americans can experience a wild spaciousness that is their heritage.”

Read 3306 times Last modified on Friday, 13 July 2012 13:06

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