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BIG BUSINESS BY THE SEA
The coast is, of course, at once the beginning and the end. There "the high interiors" of the sea and the reaches of the land join at the dark lines of the tides. It is a place which has always drawn man seeking wild or wet—to walk, to fish, to swim or to lie on his back. It is also a place which is fast vanishing from the public domain.
According to a two-year survey by the National Park Service of the 3,700 miles of Atlantic and Gulf coastline, only 240 miles are now in federal or state ownership for public recreation purposes. For the most part, the rest is open to commercial exploitation.
Two decades ago the Service recommended that 12 sites comprising 437 miles of shore be preserved. Only one of the 12 was ever acquired. One such undeveloped area, 30 miles long, could have been purchased in 1935 for $9,000 a mile. Today only nine miles of this stretch are left, and at a whopping price of $110,000 a mile. "The seashore," as the Government grimly puts it, "has now become Big Business."
The Service wants at least 15% of the surveyed coastline to be acquired for public use. Another 320 miles would do the trick. It lists three areas as being particularly desirable: Cumberland Island in the southeastern part of Georgia; the undeveloped portion of Fire Island, New York and the Outer Beach of Cape Cod, extending southward from Provincetown. Considerable funds and public support, however, are needed.
Melville's Ishmael wondered at the "thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries" who must get "just as nigh the water as they possibly can without falling in." He would be even more amazed if he found this strange but natural bent blocked at almost every turn by signs, ominously reading: KEEP OUT. NO FISHING, PRIVATE PROPERTY.
NOT SO MIGHTY MOOSE
The head of a moose, even with the body of a moose attached, is an awesome sight, but by itself, just lying in the wilderness, it possesses a lonely if gauche majesty.