The Castillo de San Marcos fort in St. Augustine, Florida, was built by the Spanish in the 1600s. It has survived for more than three centuries.

But a study by the National Park Service predicts it’s just one of many national treasures that might not survive the impacts of climate change in the next 100 years.

National Park Service logo

The study looked at the impacts of sea-level rise and extreme storms on forty national parks. It found that by the end of the century, more than $40 billion worth of National Park resources are at high risk, including Ellis Island, Baltimore’s Ft. McHenry, and California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Barmeyer: “You turn on the news, you see drought, you see wildfires, you see floods. These things are happening at parks as well. And it really emphasizes why we need to take action now, to cut carbon pollution and make our parks more resilient.”

That’s Sarah Barmeyer of the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonprofit that works to protect our national parks, preserves, monuments, and historic landmarks.

She says restoring coastal wetlands and improving air and water quality will also help the parks withstand the impacts of climate change, and prevent national treasures across the country from being lost forever.

Castilloe de San Marcos

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Evan Lowenstein.
Photo: The Castillo de San Marcos fort, St. Augustine, Florida (source: Wikipedia).

More Resources
Adapting To Climate Change in Coastal Parks: Estimating the Exposure of Park Assets to 1 m of Sea-Level Rise
National Parks Conservation Association

Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...