Hyannis Kennedy Legacy Trail

6. Protecting Cape Cod’s Seashores

President John F. Kennedy loved Cape Cod and it’s unique natural environment. In 1961, he signed legislation establishing an American treasure, the Cape Cod National Seashore, protecting the fragile coastline from Chatham to Provincetown. The 43,500-acre National Seashore has created recreational opportunities for millions of residents and tourists, and became a landmark that defines Cape Cod. The Cape Cod National Seashore area is on the east side of the Cape’s outer arm, about 20 miles from here.



Cape Cod National Seashore
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed a bill authorizing the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore. A long-time summer resident of the Cape, JFK had co-sponsored the legislation while in the Senate. The goal, he wrote, was “to preserve the natural and historic values of a portion of Cape Cod for the inspiration and enjoyment of people all over the United States.” This was the first time the federal government had created a national park out of land that was primarily in private hands. Months of hearings and meetings were required to produce a bill that balanced private and public interests. Today the Seashore encompasses more than 43,000 acres and draws more than 4,000,000 visitors a year.