On August 7th, 2011, the Cape Cod National Seashore turned 50 years old. To mark this anniversary, WCAI and the Cape Cod Times have collaborated to bring to life the story of this historic National Park. Our series includes stories about the park’s controversial founding, how it has contributed to the region’s economic base, how the government and local towns have dealt with disagreements throughout its first 50 years, and what we might expect in the next 50 years. The series examines environmental issues impacting the Seashore lands, and also celebrates memories and experiences in the lives of people affected by the park.

On this page you will find audio and transcripts of all WCAI's coverage on the Park's anniversary, as well as links to accompanying articles in the Cape Cod Times, with photo galleries and a video feature.

Explore: Cape Cod National Seashore online.
Participate: Schedule of anniversary events at the National Seashore.
Discover: Geology of the Outer Cape.
Join: Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Journey: Map of the National Seashore

5 National Seashore Facts

  • Encompases 43,500 acres, with nearly 40 miles of beaches.
  • Includes Marconi Station, site of the first radio transmission between the United States and England, on January 18, 1903.
  • Doane Rock, within the Park in Eastham, is the largest exposed boulder on Cape Cod, rising 18 feet high and projecting below ground an estimated 12 feet.
  • 1879 - First telegraph cable connecting the United States to Europe was laid from France, via St. Pierre Island, to Cape Cod, coming ashore in North Eastham.
  • Includes over 2500 acres of historically diked salt marshes, 35% of the Massachusetts total.
Expanded Coverage

WCAI's science blog exploring life on the shores of climate change, CLIMATIDE covers the Cape Cod National Seashore story from a unique perspective.

Read stories from the Seashore Project Collaboration

The dune shack of Laurie Schecter's family was once nearly buried by sand. The family rescued and restored it - but a new federal plan throws its fate into uncertainty.  Read more about the Dune Shacks Dilemma in the Cape Cod Times >

Photo: Cape Cod Times
View a gallery of Dune Shack photos >

The creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961 set national standards for how federal parkland can co-exist with towns and was essentially the first urban national park, after which came Fire Island, Boston Harbor and others. Regionally, the Seashore also signaled that Cape Cod should be regarded as a national treasure by the federal government, eventually leading to the MMRA legislation and the Cape Cod Commission Act. Read about it in the Cape Cod Times, including an interview with Cape Cod Commission head Paul Neidzwicki.

photo: Cape Cod TimesPlovers = contention. For years, users of the Seashore and environmentalists have been at odds over how to protect the species and still encourage recreational use. Dive into the world of the RV’ers on the beach and how they run up against the successes of the seashore in saving the plovers.  Read about it in the Cape Cod Times >

photo: Cape Cod Times
Plovers aren't the only ones!
  Find out about other endangered species at the Seashore >

photo: Cape Cod Times Video: Why the Seashore Shines 
Here are some of the most beautiful spots, interesting people, and stirring storm footage.

Photo: Cape Cod TimesPlenty of Challenges Ahead
What will the Cape Cod National Seashore look like at 100? Will its beachfront parking lots be falling into a rising sea? Will large private houses pockmark its natural features? Read about it >

photo: Cape Cod TimesAs Nature Intended
The controversy over nude sunbathing within the Seashore goes back decades, and it continues day. Read about it >

Eric Williams: Why I’m passionate about the Seashore. A personal essay >


Explore archived stories about the Cape Cod National Seashore, see collected videos, photo galleries and more great stuff from the Cape Cod Times >

  Source: http://capecod.pdswebdev.com/

Explore a photo gallery of Seashore memories from the 1950's to the present, assembled the by the Friends of the Cape Cod Seashore.

Coverage from WCAI

Creating the Park (sound + transcript)


After five decades the Cape Cod National Seashore has proven itself a success, balancing the need for environmental protection with the desire for active recreation on the beaches of the Outer Cape. In this report Sean Corcoran explores the history and controversy of the park.
Photo: NPS, Cape Cod Nat'l Seashore

EXTRA: Then-and-Now Photogallery from the Cape Cod Times >

See how the National Seashore has changed - and endured - over time.

Seashore Economics (sound + transcript)


On August 7, 1961, President John Kennedy signed the legislation to protect and manage about 44,000 acres of beaches, salt marshes, and kettle ponds on Cape Cod's outer coast. Today, the Seashore is among the top-10-most-visited national park sites in the country. But as Sean Corcoran reports, when it first was proposed, opponents feared that the large, federally-operated park might stifle the Cape's growth and depress its economy.
Photo: NPS, Cape Cod Nat'l Seashore

Photo: Cape Cod TimesEXTRA: Read Sean Corcoran's article: How the Seashore Transformed the Real Estate Market in the Cape Cod Times >

EXTRA: Fort Hil, the Development that Almost Stole the View

Can you believe it: National Seashore almost included a housing development!


Mission Impossible: Preservation vs. Use (sound + transcript)


photo: heather goldstoneCape Cod National Seashore hosts more than four million visitors each year. All those people can take a toll on the very beaches and endangered species that make the park so special. But some of the greatest threats – things like air pollution and climate change – are products of people’s daily lives at home, not what they do at the seashore. As Heather Goldstone reports, that’s forcing managers to rely less on fences and more on education to protect the National Seashore.

photo:Cape Cod Times Cape's shape constantly changing, for good and bad.
Cape Cod is often described as a flexed arm, but that shape is relatively new in geological terms. Since its creation nearly 15,000 years ago, the forces of erosion have reworked Cape Cod's shoreline ceaselessly. 

Read Heather Goldstone's article in the Cape Cod Times >

Biddle Property (sound + transcript)


Credit: Prudential Cape Shores RealtyRecently, the National Seashore acquired the 10-acre Biddle property in Wellfleet, a major milestone during the Seashore’s 50th year. Money for these acquisitions comes from The Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is funded by fees on offshore oil and gas leases. The Biddle property is known for its historic and cultural significance. Its preservation comes at a time when many of the Cape’s historic structures are disappearing. Brian Morris reports.
Photo: Prudential Cape Shores Realty

Dune Shacks (sound + transcript)


photo: Dan TritleThe Seashore owns 18 little houses, known as the Provincetown Dune Shacks, in the Outer Cape sand hills and grasslands. They’ve become almost legend as artistic retreats and quiet summer getaways for generations of residents and visitors, writers and painters, including e.e. Cummings, Eugene O'Neill, and Jackson Pollack. As Dan Tritle reports, the future of the dune shacks has been under debate.

photo: Cape Cod TimesEXTRA
Places in the Seashore that have inspired artists and writers. Read it in the Cape Cod Times >

Looking Forward (sound + transcript)

photo: Cape Cod Times
Sean Corcoran reports on some of the challenges the 44,000-acre national park has encountered and what it may face in the next 50 years.

An Uncertain Experiment: An essay by Robert Finch

Robert Finch - naturalist, author, and voice of A Cape Cod Notebook - reflects on the contending forces of human interest and nature that both threaten and dynamize the Cape Cod National Seashore.

The Henry Beston Society: An interview by Bob Seay

Bob Seay's interview with Don Wilding, founder of the Henry Beston Society, about the influence of Beston's book "The Outermost House" on the creation of the National Seashore

  The Point with Mindy Todd

WCAI's half-hour public affairs program with a lively and informative discussion on critical issues for Cape Cod and the Islands, The Point airs weekdays at 9:30am, with a repeat broadcast at 7:30pm.

August 3: Cape Cod National Seashore
Cape Cod National Seashore Superintendent George Price talks about the park's 50th Anniversary. Mindy also discusses the upcoming Seashore Project, which is a collaboration between WCAI and the Cape Cod Times.

August 8: Anniversary Coverage
Sean Corcoran of WCAI, Heather Goldstone of Climatide, and Mary Ann Bragg of the Cape Cod Times discuss the collaborative coverage of the Cod National Seashore's 50th Anniversary.

August 9: Piping Plovers
Mary Hake, Shorebird Biologist with National Park Service at Cape Cod National Seashore and Katy Kughen, Biological Science Technician with the National Park Service at Cape Cod National Seashore discuss the plight of the piping plover.


August 10: Mission and Challenges
George Price, Superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore discusses balancing the parks mission of preservation and conservation and the inherent challenges. We also discuss resources, the balance of natural and cultural considerations and visitor access and use.

August 11: Beston and Outermost House
A discussion of Henry Beston's 1928 book about life on Cape Cod. Guest-hosted by Sean Corcoran.