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Bird Nests and Closures Spurring Civil Disobedience at Cape Hatteras National Seashore


How successful is the government's settlement of a lawsuit to protect threatened shorebirds and turtles from ORVs at Cape Hatteras National Seashore? NPS photo.

As more nesting plovers and oystercatchers lead to more temporary beach closures at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, it appears more folks are acting in civil disobedience to protest the closures.

The closures were authorized earlier this spring as part of a settlement aimed at finding a compromise between off-road vehicle use on the national seashore and those worried about threatened bird and turtle species being endangered by that traffic.

Of course, not everyone supports that settlement. Acts of vandalism and civil disobedience might be doing more harm than good for ORV enthusiasts, though, as the settlement allows the National Park Service to extend the size of closures when vandalism occurs.

Rangers on June 4th closed another section of the park beach due to a plover hatch. On Thursday, June 5th, several visitors expressed opposition to this closure. One person deliberately entered the area and was dealt with by law enforcement personnel.

Meanwhile, the size of another closed area was expanded due to an oystercatcher hatch.

On Friday, June 6th, the seashore reports that two people entered a closed area and were contacted by protection rangers. Uniformed personnel were stationed at Ramp 43 during peak visitor use hours over the weekend to prevent intrusions and provide information. A special use permit was granted for a group of 50 people who are opposed to the consent decree for a social event at Ramp 43. There were no incidents.


To Recent Visitor Lee,
I am sorry you did not enjoy your day on the beach at the Outer Banks. Believe me when I say this because I am sincere. It can be a wonderful experience.
I would ask that you keep an open mind.
There is always a certain element that abuse any priviledge (or right as some might say) and speed on the beach. Some even drive recklessly. Just as anywhere else, law enforcement should prevent this. Many of us of the ORV community do not understand why this is not better controlled. We are all for it.
As to swimmers, sun bathers and beach walkers seeing the fishermen / women as an inconvenience, Those folks that wish to fish, as well as others that just enjoy being at the predominately good fishing spots, would prefer being places that you would not be. But, Unfortunately, These folks can not go there now due to "closures". So everyone is being cramed into the same limited areas. Blame the birds, turtles, NPS, Audubon, Defenders of Wildlife, SELC, Judge Boyle, but not the People.
The place of which we speak is The Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.
It has been a Surf fishing mecca for about a century and fished way before that. People have driven on the beach for the better part of that time to reach the better fishing places. It's a major part of the history and culture.
Granted, there needs to be a management plan. But don't blame the People.
There are miles of beach available for you to have a secluded, quiet day on the beach, vehicle free. You should have asked someone where to go. As to feeling crowded, I'm sorry. No one wants to crowd or anoy you with a vehicle or fishing lines, they are simply being pushed there. So please don't blame the People.

Ron (obxguys)

Here's a perfect example of the kinds of opposing tensions that make management of park areas so very difficult.

I, for one, applaud the courage and dedication of men and women who have what it takes to stand fast in the face of intense opposition and abuse from all sides in order to make responsible decisions to ensure that our special places will be "preserved unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

Lee I guess when you attend Yellowstone and park amongst the thousands of cars and walk on the thousands of feet of manmade boardwalk you feel this is how it is doen protecting wildlife and our children?

Just another person blowing things out of proportion save one... Yes because of the draconian closures there is now and will be in the future more crowded beaches in Cape Hatteras whether there are ORV's or not...

PS the NPS is now looking into delaying the process for coming up with the final ORV plan possibly to even April 2012...

I think you missed a turn and mean to go to Pea Island. There are plenty of beaches open to pedestrians if you are willing to look...sound familiar?

This is a NATIONAL PARK. It is our duty to protect wildlife. If the beaches have to be closed for short period of time, so be it. Having just visited the Avon-Hatteras-Ocracoke area for the first time I was appauled to see vehicles on the beaches. It's not only an eye sore, it's noisy and smelly. I thought the beach was for relaxing, not possible when people in big 4 wheel drives are speeding around - and yes I mean speeding around with seemingly no regard for others around them. Good grief - WE HAD CHILDREN WITH US and didn't feel like we could relax. It's impossible to take a walk down the beach through the fishing lines. Ridiculous. Let people fish off boats if they want to fish.

Talking with a lot of business owners they seemed to think the issue was being expolited by the fishermen. They didn't fear a downturn in business or the doom and gloom forecast by the fishermen.

If the beach closures help the wildlife then it is a small price to pay to have some areas closed periodically for wildlife breeding. After speaking with several fishermen on the beach, and some in the tackle shops, I was initially left with the impression that the NPS and "environmentalists" were trying to eventually close all NP beaches on Hatteras to ORV's and pedestrians all the time. I was also told that the feds want to get rid of the villages, and close the beaches to humans, period. That is not the case. It seems to me that some of the open beach access advocates do themselves an injustice when they grossly exaggerate their claims about closures and give their dire predictions. A national park is for all citizens wherever they live in the US, and not just a few people who like to drive right on the beach. Rout 12 seems like a beach road to me anyway. Do the fishermen absolutely have to have their trucks with them to fish. How about just using Rt 12 and walking over the dune with your gear instead of having to have a tailgate for a table for their gear.

You obviously know nothing about the Cape Hatteras beaches and the residents or visitors!! The Audubon society, Southern Environmental Law center, etc. have completely distorted the truth about the effect of ORV use on the beach. Take your lonely self to the wilderness to live with your beloved birds, as for me and my friends, who are and have always been outstanding stewards of the Cape Hatteras beaches we will fight to the end to preserve HUMAN rights to enjoy our national park. It is beyond belief the extent to which people who have never even visited the area have gone to prevent fisherman and their families from enjoying the wonderful Hatteras beaches.

It would appear from the detailed statistics which are only gathered by site visitation, that a self proclaimed elit group can wander the shores within their private bird santuary at the expense of all others. Arrogance by elite components of any society has always spawned reprocussions. While the birders proclaim the "rednecks with their trucks" are off the beach, the footprint of the homes and cottages on Hatteras are also a problem. But will that access be sacrificed for the well being of tha hatch?

And when was the last time you went and did something positve to help the area instead of complain how bad it is? Beach cleanup, informational courses etc....

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