Cape Hatteras National Seashore Dispute Places Birds, Turtles, and Humans on Small Strip of Sand

Cape Hatteras National Seashore long has attracted surf casters. Cape Point, in the lower photo, wasn't always crowded with vehicles. NPS photos.

A diminutive shorebird and a string of villages both dependent on the same necklace of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina are being pinched in a precarious setting that demonstrates the folly of trying to control nature.

While the idea of a national seashore along the Outer Banks of North Carolina might have been a grand idea in the 1930s, before the advent of roads on the barrier islands of Bodie, Hatteras, and Ocracoke, before sport utility vehicles, and before summer vacations sent millions of Americans to the beach, 21st-century realities are dealing a harsh blow to wildlife species and local communities alike.

In the landscape of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a landscape accustomed to being shoved around by the Atlantic Ocean, shrinking habitat for both the piping plover and for surf fishermen has generated a controversy for the National Park Service, one threatening to rival that which has swirled around snowmobiles and Yellowstone National Park for more than a decade.

While three species of sea turtles -- threatened green sea turtles, endangered leatherback sea turtles, and loggerhead turtles, which are proposed to be listed as endangered -- have come ashore to nest at Cape Hatteras, it is a tiny bird that seemingly casts the greatest shadow over the seashore’s management.

Piping plovers, grayish-white birds with a black neck band, yellow legs, and a distinctive chirp, are somewhat curious in their preference for nesting habitat. They make small depressions in the sand to lay eggs that blend in so well they can easily be overlooked and, unfortunately, easily crushed by feet and tires and available to predators. Unfortunately, for Cape Hatteras beach-goers, these birds nest from late spring through July, and restrictions imposed to protect the birds block some stretches of seashore from those who prefer to drive their vehicles on the beach.

No one -- not the National Park Service, not the environmental and conservation groups in the community, nor the off-road vehicle organizations -- denies that a plan is needed to manage off-road vehicle traffic on the seashore. But that’s about all they seem to agree on.

“Are we providing for the birds, or are we missing providing for the people who want to come down here and use it as a recreational area?” wonders John Couch, the president of the Outer Banks Preservation Association that supports more off-road vehicle use of the seashore than the Park Service proposes to allow.

To continue the Yellowstone analogy, imagine if the Old Faithful complex, Lake Village, Tower-Roosevelt, Grant Village, Mammoth Hot Springs, and West Thumb all were unincorporated communities surrounded by Yellowstone. Those communities, if they existed, would be just as deeply concerned about Yellowstone management decisions as those who live along Cape Hatteras are concerned about the national seashore’s management choices.

And like the Yellowstone snowmobile debate, which has raged for more than a decade at a cost to the Park Service of more than $10 million in environmental studies, the Cape Hatteras dispute, brought to a boil in 2007 when environmental groups sued the Park Service because it never formally developed an ORV management plan, won’t likely be settled when seashore officials deliver their management plan late this year.

“It’s clear that both sides are lined up, and we’re not going to be able to avoid completing the plan and regulation this time,” says Mike Murray, who upon his arrival at the seashore as its superintendent in 2005 was handed the mess. “I think it’s likely to result in litigation.”

* * * * *

Conflicts don’t normally arise overnight, and the one at Cape Hatteras certainly didn’t. This one slowly evolved as more and more Americans came to enjoy beach vacations.

When World War II broke out, piping plover populations along the Atlantic coast were peaking and the national seashore was little more than an idea on paper. At war’s end, though, the birds and the seashore headed in different directions.

Cape Hatteras, which was officially established in 1953, soon became a name brand for summer vacations, an attraction that nurtured tiny villages along the Outer Banks with vacation rentals, grocery stores, restaurants, service stations, fishing, and surf-pounded beaches.

Piping plovers, though, lost more and more habitat up and down the Atlantic seaboard to development and recreational pressures and declined precipitously, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On January 10, 1986, the bird that blends in so well with its beach habitat was officially designed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

Today it seems that more than a few Outer Bank residents would also describe themselves as threatened due to the conflict created by the seashore’s popularity and the bird’s need for beach-front habitat.

Those who envisioned the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in the 1930s were in some cases ahead of their times. While the Wilderness Act was still three decades away from being signed into law, the seashore’s founders saw the seashore containing stretches of “pristine wilderness.” At the same time, the lack of paved roads along Cape Hatteras led those who wished to fish the surf to drive through the dunes and along the beaches. But in the early days, beach traffic was minimal compared to today’s numbers.

Down through the decades, more and more surf casters turned to their vehicles to reach prime fishing spots along the seashore, with Cape Point due south of Buxton and to the east of Frisco being one of the most popular. During the summer high season there are times when an estimated 400 vehicles are parked along a 1-mile stretch of the point, according to the Park Service.

It was just this sort of traffic levels that spurred Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society to sue the Park Service in 2007 for lacking an official ORV management plan -- something both President Nixon and then President Carter had directed be done for federal lands -- one that took the nesting shorebirds and sea turtles into consideration.

“You know, it’s not the plover alone. It’s the other nesting birds,” says Chris Canfield, executive director of Audubon North Carolina. “Audubon has had a presence in the region for 100 years, and when we really decided we had to do something, including the court case, it was because the numbers had reached lows that were below anything we could find on record.”

Mr. Canfield agrees with Mr. Couch and other ORVers that a lot of factors are behind the downfall of breeding plovers at Cape Hatteras.

“You can talk about predators, you can talk about weather. Well, we have to control all the 'controllables' we can,” he says. “We can’t control the weather. We can do something about predators, and the Park Service tries. But we certainly can control the people factor, so that’s what we’re also trying to do.”

One of the things that definitely can’t be controlled, however, is the nature of barrier islands and Atlantic hurricanes, storms that some say are becoming more potent as the climate changes.

Installing permanent structures on coastal barrier beachfronts such as Cape Hatteras amounts to a declaration of war on one of nature's most powerful processes. The hurricanes, nor'easters, and other great storms that thrash the coast pack vast amounts of energy. Coastal barriers and the tidal marshes behind them function as the mainland's first line of defense, absorbing the impact of ferocious winds and surging water.

Huge amounts of sand get pushed around (some of it moving offshore), new channels are cut by overwash, and in these and other ways the coastal barriers get rearranged. By destroying dunes and constructing beachfront structures -- including defenses such as rip-rap, seawalls, groins, and jetties -- developers work directly against these natural processes and place property and people at exceptional risk.

The National Park Service began to realize this in the 1970s when it decided to halt its longstanding practice of building up and maintaining sand dunes along Cape Hatteras. It was a practice that helped maintain North Carolina 12, which runs the length of the seashore and connects the villages, but one that also was forever at conflict with nature.

The man-made dunes, in effect, tried to create a landscape contrary to that of a barrier island, one that can shift with storms that move sands around. Not only do these dunes need constant maintenance to withstand the Atlantic Ocean, but they create steep drop-offs that have narrowed the seashore’s beaches in places and, in many cases, left behind small stretches of habitat that are favored both by the piping plover and many surf fishermen.

* * * *

A federal judge in 2008 approved a consent decree that required the Park Service to come up with an acceptable ORV management plan. Arguably before the ink dried on that order, the Park Service staff at Cape Hatteras found itself navigating treacherous waters in its role as referee, peacemaker, and rule-maker bound by the Endangered Species Act and the National Park Service Organic Act.

“Certainly, there have been instances of it getting ugly,” says Superintendent Murray, who has seen a lot of controversy in a Park Service career that has taken him through Yellowstone, Yosemite, Everglades and Cape Cod National Seashore. “When we had our advisory committee, basically a federal advisory committee, some of the local environmental representatives got threats. I don’t know if they were death threats. Some of them got nails in their driveways, they were put on ‘Wanted’ posters all across the island with directions to their house, ‘This guy wants to shut down beach access, go let him know what you think.’

“We had to relocate meeting locations. We had been trying to meet at Hatteras Island, but we didn’t have any Park Service-controlled venues, and so we had demonstrations and unruly behavior and some reports of vandalism of members’ cars while there were in meetings,” the superintendent continues. “In our public hearings there’s certainly a lot of angry language.

“One of the newspaper articles said I was threatened. I don’t recall. There were so many angry statements I’m not sure I picked up on which one was threatening me. Certainly we receive hate mail, our employees are refused service on Hatteras, and the community has mixed feelings about it.

“They do nothing to stop it, but some community and ORV leaders express regret that it’s come to that.”

For a year in the lead-up to the agency’s draft ORV plan and accompanying environmental impact statement, a committee with representatives from both the environmental and ORV communities met regularly over the course of a year-and-a-half, but met with little success in finding compromise.

“The committee worked really hard,” points out Superintendent Murray. “We had 11 formal meetings, which was 20 total meeting days. Every couple months there would be a two-day meeting. But we had seven subcommittees that worked on different parts of the plan. They had conference calls and subcommittee meetings and on and on and on.

“They made progress on stuff,” he goes on, “but it kind of boiled down to, after all this effort, the parties on the committee were able to agree to the easy things, like speed limits, or vehicle requirements. They couldn’t agree to the hard things, like how are we going to manage ORV use in the real sensitive bird nesting areas?

“So, towards the end of the process, we created a special subcommittee, called the integration group - sort of three from each side and three sort of neutral parties - to try to work out the final recommendation for the committee to consider. And they couldn’t do it. They couldn’t agree to anything.”

As a result, the seashore’s planning staff came up with a half-dozen alternatives that went into the DEIS, alternatives that ranged from no changes in management to the preferred alternative, which was culled from much of the committee’s work, and which has brought howls from both ORVers and environmentalists.

“We expected that nobody would like the preferred alternative, and it seems like it’s turning out to be true,” says Superintendent Murray.

* * * * *

Indeed, neither the conservation groups nor the ORV organizations like the preferred alternative.

While the conservationists say the 16 miles of beach that would be permanently closed to ORV use is too little, the ORV groups say it’s too much.

Seashore officials, meanwhile, point out that at various times throughout the year more, and less, of the remaining 52 or so miles of beaches will be closed, or opened, depending on nesting seasons.

At the National Parks Conservation Association, Kristen Brengel, director of legislative and government relations, believes too much is being made by ORV groups over the proposed closures. After all, she notes, beach closures along Cape Hatteras are nothing new to the national seashore as many of the seashore’s villages routinely close sections of beach to ORV traffic to accommodate pedestrian beach-goers.

“In terms of just the off-road vehicle use, there have been seasonal closures for a long time specifically to enhance tourism. The fact of the matter is is that Cape Hatteras and the villages and towns throughout it have been handling seasonal closures for a very long time,” Ms. Brengel says. “So to say that now, with the closures specifically for off-road vehicles use, they’re not used to it, I don’t think that that’s a true statement.

“I find it kind of disingenuous to say that they’re not used to this when they specifically do it to get tourism dollars during the summer. That’s their bread-and-butter,” she adds. “And to make it seem like a closure here and there to protect some turtle and bird nesting is such a concept that’s wildly out of sync with how things have been managed down there is incorrect. If they do it for people and sunbathers, why can’t they do it for birds and turtles when the Park Service is legally required to do the latter?”

Mr. Canfield at Audubon North Carolina also notes that relatively few of the seashore’s visitors want to drive on the beaches. In his group’s comments to the draft ORV plan it’s noted that, “A 2003 visitor survey at Cape Hatteras estimated that between 2.7 percent and 4 percent of all visits to the park included beach driving. Even positing significant error in the survey data, and that number is double the maximum reported, then we are still left with the estimate that under 10 percent of all visitors to the seashore choose to drive on the beach during their visits.”

* * * * *

You can’t discuss the future of recreation and wildlife on Cape Hatteras National Seashore without citing numbers:

* 1,000 meters -- That’s the distance of a buffer zone surrounding plover nests with unfledged chicks that ORVs must honor; the buffer for pedestrians is 300 meters. The 1,000-meter buffer, notes Mr. Couch, “is bigger than the parking lot of the New Orleans Superdome.”

* ~70 and 16 -- Approximate miles of coastline within the seashore, and miles that would be closed year-round to ORV access, a number criticized as too low by environmental groups and two high by ORV interests.

* 2.2 million -- Approximate number of visitors to Cape Hatteras annually.

* $777.41 million -- Tourism spending recorded in Dare County in 2008, an increase of 1.9 percent from 2007.

Other numbers that raise eyebrows were produced by the U.S. Fish and WIldlife Service when it analyzed piping plover habitat from Cape Lookout National Seashore north to Cape Cod National Seashore as part of its work on developing a recovery plan for the birds. The study looked at the quality of piping plover habitat across those seaside landscapes and assessed the potential number of birds it could support. Cape Hatteras, the agency said, had the potential to support 30 breeding pairs.

“Many of the seashores have met or exceeded that predicted potential,” notes Superintendent Murray. “Cape Hatteras is the only one that’s had significant declines since the late ‘80s. All the other areas have had significant improvements.”

According to the USFWS findings, whereas Cape Cod National Seashore had 15 breeding pairs in 1989, by 2007 they had 85; Fire Island National Seashore had three breeding pairs in 1992, and 25 in 2007; Breezy Point, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, had 14 pair in 1989 and 19 in 2007; Sandy Hook, another part of Gateway, had 19 pairs in 1989, and 30 in 2007; Assateague Island National Seashore had 20 pairs in 1989, 64 in 2007; Cape Lookout, just south of Cape Hatteras, had 34 pair in 1989, and 45 in 2007.

“Cape Hatteras in 1989 had 15 pair, 2007 we had six,” said Superintendent Murray. “And the six was an improvement. 20032, 2004, 2005 we had about two pair. So 2006 was the first under the interim (management) plan, it improved to six. It was six again in 2007. 2008, 2009 under the consent decree it increased to 11 in 2008, and then nine pair in 2009, so some improvement both under the interim strategy and then under bump in improvement under the consent decree.”

From his vantage point, Mr. Couch believes the answer for the comparatively poor plover production at Cape Hatteras is obvious to anyone who walks the seashore’s beaches.

“Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the unit area that we are in, represents a marginal area. It is a peripheral area of nesting and wintering birds. Right on the edge. So typically numbers that are within more of the center of a particular area are going to have greater numbers,” he said.

As for the better bird production at Cape Lookout, which is further south, he points out the lack of man-made infrastructure on that seashore.

“They didn’t have any man-made interference. They don’t have the dunes. All the dunes here are man-made. And typically our topography is just like their’s, except the CCC came back in 1933 under Roosevelt and built the dunes,” he said. “They don’t have that here. We don’t have those wash-over areas that plovers seem to like and feed on. Surf comes up and it rolls right back into the ocean.”

And while Cape Hatteras is more built-up than Cape Lookout, with eight villages dotting the seashore, and sees more human and vehicle traffic, Mr. Couch contends that “human interference, whatever it is, is less than 3 percent of what’s going on there (in terms of impacting plover production). By far it is predation and natural causes.”

* * * * *

No doubt, a large part of the problem at Cape Hatteras is a lack of parking. While more than 2 million folks descend on the national seashore annually, finding a parking spot that’s not on the beach can be difficult if not impossible at times.

“There’s no public beach access parking in the villages. They didn’t think of it. They didn’t provide for it,” says Superintendent Murray. “And the seashore has about 1,000 parking spaces spread over 70 miles.”

During the 2007 season, he notes, the lack of parking led to 3,000-4,000 vehicles parking on the beaches.

“So, lack of parking is a big root cause to the dilemma we face today,” he says. “People have become dependent upon driving and parking on the beach.”

Over at the Outer Banks Preservation Association, Mr. Couch agrees there’s a great need for additional parking, a problem he says the Park Service has ignored.

“There’s just not that motivation and initiative out at the Park Service,” he said. “They can cry the money woes and stuff like that, but there is no champion of access in the Park Service these days. I think they give too much time and effort into bird restrictions and closing off areas.”

* * * * *

While seashore officials say they’re trying to satisfy both sides in their management planning, they also point to the laws and regulations they have to follow in managing the seashore.

“We know, and certainly we’re hearing in our public comments loud and clear, that Cape Hatteras is important to the local economy,” says Superintendent Murray, but “We have got to remember the purpose of the parks as stated in the (National Park Service) Organic Act. You know, ‘provide for the enjoyment of same in such manner and such means that will leave them unimpaired.’

“And there’s numerous lawsuits and case law and philosophical statements from great conservation leaders over the years that the rights of future generations, when it comes to parks, the rights of future generations are more important than the immediate desires of the present. Frederick Law Olmstead said that in 1865 regarding Yosemite, and that’s never more true than it is today,” the superintendent adds.

“And that’s the challenge, and we want parks to be relevant to people’s lives in this and future generations so they have to have the ability to experience them. ... Finding that balance -- and it’s not necessarily a perfect balance -- resource protection is to be predominant so that they’ll be available for future generations. That should be the basis that we make decisions.”

Comments

Very nice article Kurt. I grew up vacationing on Cape Hatteras. Since the 1930's, my family has enjoyed the privilege of being able to drive out to the point. I understand both sides, but I can tell you it is the people who use this resource and love it to the core of their being, that want to protect it more than anyone. To shut them out completely goes against what the National Parks were created for in the first place. On my last visit to Avon, NC it was heartbreaking to see the effect this battle is having on the community and the economy. I am a firm believer is access.

Karen wrote:
To shut them out completely goes against what the National Parks were created for in the first place.

Shut folks out completely, where?

"Shut folks out completely, where?"

Anywhere you see one or more of these, RW:


(Bird Closure Signage)

...or these:


(Turtle Closure Signage, but also used for SMA's for shorebirds. Both are full beach closures)

There are literally thousands of these types of signs in place right now. C'mon down to CHNSRA one day in the Spring/Early summer and see for yourself.

Otherwise, I doubt you can ever be convinced of the realities in this area.

dapster, yes I do know of those "thousands" of signs, posted during breeding / nesting times only.
Cape Hatteras FAQ: Beach Access (.pdf file)
(now back to the original story and my question.)
Where are the areas the NPS etc., will / want to "Shut folks out completely" ?

RW

Simply stated if the DEIS targets for both the plovers and birds they have no right to designate like the terns, oyster catchers, etc... and the turtles are ever reached then these above shown signs will no longer be needed (30,000 meters alone for plovers or 18.6411358 miles for 60 birds). You can just place a sign at the beginning of the Bonner Bridge saying bird sancturary closed to humans. It is plainly visible to me that anyone who speaks negatively on accessing the seashore has never been there. I really wonder if plovers or some other endangered beast took up residence at lets say Mt Rushmore, in the Mall in DC at the base of every monument, at all the significant locations in all of the national parks closing them to humans would you people wake up then? People are allowed access to all of these places even with endangered species nearby. In Cape Hatteras that is not true. You see they string rope around these nesting areas at 1,000 meters away. this is to prevent ORV's disturbing these little birds, but it does not say pedestrians please continue another 700 meters per the consent decree and stop 300 meters away. In fact if you park your ORV and continue on foot you are not breaking the law set forth by the consent decree, but you will be ticketed or jailed by the NPS.

DO not believe the numbers in this article - they are biased and slanted. Take the numbers 70 and 16. Yes those are correct BUT they lead one to believe that 70-16 = 54 miles available to ORV and pedestrian access. - NOT TRUE.... many of those miles are closed to driving by the villages, many of those miles are inaccessible/ have no access. The numbers of breeding pairs do NOT include the pairs on the dredge spoil islands in the sound - they did NOT count them since they weren't in the "national park." They did count visitors in their numbers from SOuthern SHores to Ocracoke. That's the problem with believing the numbers that these folks are putting out there. SO how can you trust anything they say???

Anonymous,

The story clearly points out that the number of miles available for access throughout the year would vary, up and down, with nesting seasons (not to mention hurricanes), and also points out that villages close areas to ORVs.

What is presently closed to all access no mater what your mode of transportation, be it foot, crawling, vehicle, etc. is all of the most popular recreational beaches within the Seashore. That is Biodie Island Spit (ie Oregon Inlet), Cape Point, South Beach (just to the West of Cape Point), both sides of Hatteras Inlet and South Point of Ocracoke by Ocracoke Inlet. They will most likely remain closed until the end of nesting season about 1 Aug or later. Then comes turtle nesting season that closes the areas with dune to water line closures as well.

The numbers reflect that areas are open but they are virtually inaccessible unless one is willing to wade in sometimes dangerous surf for 1/2 mile or more to get around a closure.

Here is a link to what is presently closed. And note it is pedestrians as well as vehicle access.

http://www.nps.gov/caha/parknews/national-park-service-beach-access-report-for-13-may-2010.htm

It is like saying come on out to Yellowstone, lots of the geysers are open, and failing to note Old Faithful is closed.

Samsdad--

What you say about endangered species at other NPS units just isn't true. Many NPS units have specific closures to protect threatened and endangered species that might take up residence. CAHA isn't being singled out; Yellowstone has major seasonal closures including high-profile public areas like Fishing Bridge, Yosemite has seasonal closures of some areas for endangered species, I believe that Mount Rushmore has closures, and I know that several other National Seashores and National Recreation Areas have seasonal closures of parts of their areas for t&e species.

Do you believe that there should be no closures for t&e species in National Recreation Areas, no closures for t&e species at Cape Hatteras, or that there should be closures but that these specific closures are larger than they should be? [Yes, I've been to Cape Hatteras, but in the late fall. No, I don't know enough to argue whether the closures should be larger or smaller or managed differently.]

RW--
I actually know of one NPS area that more or less shuts folks out completely: a tiny (less than a square mile), out of the way part of Canyonlands is closed to the public (and to NPS employees except for very infrequent data collection) so that it can serve as a comparison for understanding visitation and management impacts on the rest of Canyonlands.

Kurt,

I think you miss the point of what Anonymous was saying(and could have made clearer). When they say stuff like only 300 yards of beach is closed, what they don't say is those 300 yards almost always are by an access ramp. So even if the other 15 miles is technically open, they're only accessible by air or sea, not land. So the beach, that you can't get to, on the other side of the closure is open, you just can't get to it. So is it really open?

Another missing number is 1980, that's the first year the pipping plover was observed in Cape Hatteras. As stated in the article, the seashore makes for poor plover habitat because of storms and predation. It's not part of it's natural habitat. So if we start from 1979, then all plovers nesting in the area are not only an improvement from the 0 observed before, it also demonstrates that their best years during the hey days of beach access.

Another issue I have is the statement that vehicle usage has increased substantially over the years. That's not really true either. Before highway 12, the beach was the only access and so all traffic was over the beach. Creating highway 12 removed more beach traffic than it created. Anadotelly, if you see pictures from the 60s,70s,80s, etc, you'll see similar vehicle counts on the beach. Keep in mind, this is still a remote area.

I think the visitation numbers(% that wants ORV access) are also off. I believe they include people visiting the northern beaches (an hour north of Cape Hatteras) which is closer to your typical beach community with large hotels. The southern villages are for escape from the big-box type of environment, where you can find large open areas of beach to yourself. But what the numbers don't show is time of the year. Summer visitors are most certainly chiefly people on their family vacations that aren't greatly concerned with beach access. But fall, winter, and spring visitors are dominated by fishermen. It's typically too cold to really lay out on the beach time of year, but makes for some great fishing. This are also the hardest times on the local economy and extra visitation by fishermen yelps keep the local economy afloat.

I think the statements about "being used to closures" is partially true. Yes the villages close off access during summer and yes we've had closures since as long as I can remember. But the resource closures in the past were rarely, if ever, total beach closures. During the time of the interim-management plan, bird closures were expanded, but they didn't go to the waters edge, except in a couple places not near ramps. So the bird nesting area was rightfully off limits and vehicles could stay close to the shoreline. It was good for everyone, so good that pipping plovers started showing up where as they hadn't before. Now, all of the beach is closed. And as I say above, most always by an access ramp. So yes, we're used to closures of some form, but nothing to this degree.

ORV use allows average folks who cannot afford to rent a several thousand dollars a week oceanfront or oceanside cottage to access the beach. That is the greatest allure of visiting CHNSRA for my family. "Four-wheeling" is not the goal of the high majority of users- the ORV is a tool to even access the beach. As the article stated there is minimal parking at the Seashore. It fails to mention that when the access ramps that my contain a few spaces are closed, the parking area is rendered useless. I wonder how many of those 1000 spaces are actually outside the lighthouse parking lot?

Mr. Repanshek, I found this article to be well written and informative. However, it appears to me that you may have half the facts and therefor tell about half the story. That is not meant to insult you. There is so much more here than statistics and best available science. The DEIS is 810 pages. Thats scary. Don't know who was involved in writing it but if it couldn't be said in less than 810 pages then I say there is something wrong an somebody is trying to cover something up. I was disappointed to find only one quote from Mr. Couch with OBPA and numerous from Environmentalists and government employees. A little lopsided but you did present varied observations. Could you clear up something since you referred back to the inception of the Park. Is the name Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area? If it is, should that infer that humans be given primary consideration as to use of the park? At least equal? You know, there have been discussions of alternative habitat and nesting methodology but seams to have been dismissed with a simple 'eliminate the people'. We are all interested in the wellfare of wildlife. The DEIS makes us wonder if we should look for ways to improve things for our feathered friends or consider them our adversary and try and eliminate them. I found the content about 'threats' interesting. I heard a little about this and remember thinking 'If you punch someone in the nose, you can probably expect a less than desirable response'. I'm sure you'll get where I'm coming from on that one. Every time I think I"m getting to know Superintendent Murry and hoping for the best, he throws me another curve. I wanta like that guy. Hope some of this stuff is just because there is so much pushing going on. Wish you could dig a little more and talk to some of the people that know the beach from a little different perspective than you presented. I think you would find it interesting. Then again, maybe not. One would do well to take some of the 'statistics' and 'best available science' with a grain of salt, mix it with a little locally known history and throw in alittle common sense. Would enjoy talking to you sometime, so much needs saying and I know little compared to some.
Said enough. Thanks for the opportunity.

Respectfully,
Ron Saunders

Karen says, "it is the people who use this resource and love it to the core of their being, that want to protect it more than anyone."

I think a more accurate statement would be that “they want to protect it more than anyone, for themselves."

The “they” would be the very loud ORV special interest group that sees driving on the beach wherever and whenever they want to be a right. Never mind what others might value. Never mind that the ORV special interest group is at best 10 percent of visitation to CHNSRA, and probably less.

It would seem the ORV special interest group, a very small group, believes its presumed rights trump the rights of all others, particularly others who place great weight on the protection of the natural environment and natural resources of CHNSRA for the enjoyment of all, and on the protection of that environment and those resources for present and future generations.

We could revisit the enabling legislation that places greatest importance on the environment and resources and their protection for the future, as a pristine wilderness. But this would mean that we also would have to revisit the obviously flawed, and beaten-to-death, argument that a subordinate phrase of the enabling legislation – about recreation – is more important than the overall intent of the legislation – to maintain CHNSRA as a pristine wilderness for the present and for the future. As well as revisiting the obviously flawed and beaten-do-death argument that adding the words “recreation area” to the CHNSRA designation subsequent to approval of the original enabling legislation, without changing the enabling legislation itself, somehow changes the intent of the original legislation.

Salvo Jimmy says, "It is like saying come on out to Yellowstone, lots of the geysers are open, and failing to note Old Faithful is closed." That analogy might be valid if Old Faithful as a natural resource were endangered by visitation. Especially if that endangerment were caused by people driving ORVs so close as to Old Faithful as to endanger it. ORV driving is the case within CHNSRA, with seasonal endangerment to wildlife in critical areas.

We could revisit the “junk science” argument, that all the science on which seasonal wildlife closures are based is junk. Or that the science has not been peer reviewed, or whatever. I would think that argument would carry so much more weight if the ORV special interest group could in fact demonstrate, with scientific credibility, that the science is junk. Not much, if any of that kind of credible demonstration is evident. A good many opinions are offered, many seeming to focus on “I don’t like the conclusion, so it must be wrong,” but not much specific information or rebuttal that reflects scientific credibility in those opinions. A good many repetitions, and recyclings, and spinning of the junk science argument are apparent, to a point where within the ORV special interest group junk science has become popular fact. Because everyone says so. Anonymous writes, "DO not believe the numbers in this article - they are biased and slanted. . . . That's the problem with believing the numbers that these folks are putting out there. SO how can you trust anything they say???"

And the ORV special interest group does not indicate any credible, peer-reviewed science to support its position.

The ORV special interest group is quick to claim that beaches must be kept open, because of havoc wrought on the “local” economy because of closures and huge declines in visitors. Again, there have been so many repetitions, recyclings and spinning of these claims, to where within the ORV special interest group it has become popular fact. It would be helpful if the ORV special interest group could offer hard, credible evidence to back its claim.

Folks such as the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau do offer hard, credible evidence, which shows slight declines in tourism-related activity, such as meals and occupancy. But then probably every Visitors Bureau in the United States probably shows declines in tourism-related activity such as meals and occupancy. And every other economic indicator in the country, such as employment, consumer spending, and savings, probably shows a decline. “It’s the economy,” Bill Clinton said. The ORV special interest group would have us believe it’s all because of beach closures.

I cannot understand why the ORV special interest group is not arguing that personal water craft should be allowed within CHNSRA. Don’t personal watercraft people have rights, too? Rights to CHNSRA that are being denied by CHNSRA rules? Just like the members of the ORV special interest group? Personal watercraft being denied by NPS because of their negative impact on the environment and resources.

And Big Government is responsible for protecting the well-being of local business? Why should citizens and taxpayers who wish to preserve the natural environment and resources of CHNSRA have their interests and tax resources subverted from the public good by Big Government, to maintain beach access, to support the private sector? Like a bail-out or corporate welfare? Isn’t that socialism or communism or something? After going on about beach closures, the ORV special interest group discussion boards spend a good bit of time going on about Big Government and the bail-outs and corporate welfare and alleged socialism and communism of the current Big Government.

The ORV special interest group seems to spend a good bit of time with irrelevant hypotheticals. Samsdad writes, “I really wonder if plovers or some other endangered beast took up residence at lets say Mt Rushmore, in the Mall in DC at the base of every monument, at all the significant locations in all of the national parks closing them to humans would you people wake up then? People are allowed access to all of these places even with endangered species nearby.”

Samsdad: Let’s deal with a resident endangered beast on the Mall when it becomes reality. The endangerment of the natural environment and resources at CHNSRA in fact is a reality. Public policy is now dealing with that.

Just some things I have been thinking about.

Enough for now.

For Redford

The affadavits in this link give some hard economic evidence

http://www.preservebeachaccess.org/newsreleases/deis_dare_writtencomments.pdf

This document contains local turtle experience that I understand is being peer reviewed

http://www.obpa-nc.org/turtles/TurtleMgmtProgram.pdf

This indicates the state disagrees with the NPS application of state law re state species of concern

http://hamptonroads.com/2010/05/orv-plan-gives-too-much-space-some-species-critics-argue

This position statement also cites other science as well as local experience.

http://www.obpa-nc.org/position/statement.pdf

Also for Redford

The meals/occupancy data used includes the Northern beaches, not just the Seashore. And visitor data includes places outside the Seashore like Wright Memorial and Ft Raleigh. Again I point you to the affadavits to see what is happening to the villiges within the Seashore boundaries.

And you keep saying ORV. Guess what. What is closed for resource protection is closed to pedestrians as well. It's not just about ORVs. It's about ACCESS.

Salvo Jimmy –

As I noted, the ORV special interest group continues to chant the ‘junk science” mantra, but cannot produce any mainstream, peer-reviewed science that supports its position.

Sorry, Salvo Jimmy, but the reference you provide do not come even close to the standard of peer-reviewed science. “We believe” and NPS “should” is not science, even if the "believes" and "should" are based in soft references to what someone else ostensibly has said. Nor is peer-reviewed science represented by summary articles in newspapers; opinion paper from interested organizations, even if they do have footnotes; and independent research based on unsubstantiated sources and data.

And as I noted, a good bit of information in the ORV special interest group is repeated, recycled and spun to a point where wrong information or disinformation becomes popular fact.

Sorry, Salvo Jimmy, but the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau does offer information specific to the Hatteras communities and Hatteras attractions.

http://www.outerbanks.org/pdf/Gross_Meals_District.pdf

http://www.outerbanks.org/pdf/Gross_Occupancy_District.pdf

http://www.outerbanks.org/pdf/Visitation_Stats.pdf

Affidavits are nice, but do not represent comprehensive, verifiable data. They represent the personal opinions of interested persons.

It’s about access? And maybe I am wrong, but I do not see the ORV special interest group arguing hard for pedestrian access. Seems most of the opinions coming out of the ORV special interest group focus on how they have so much vital stuff they need for fishing, walking and carrying it all simply is out of the question.

As Mr. Saunders points out, the fact that the DEIS runs 810 pages is telling in the complexity of the issue. To be sure, the article could have been twice as long and still not be well-received by all involved in this issue.

I would like to respond, though, to two points he raises. The first regards the input from Mr. Couch of the Outer Banks Preservation Association. While Mr. Saunders "was disappointed to find only one quote from Mr. Couch," a quick scan shows at least six, which is twice as much as were attributed to Mr. Canfield of Audubon North Carolina.

As for the name of the seashore, as has been pointed out on this site before, the enabling legislation referenced "Cape Hatteras National Seashore," and the "Recreation Area" was amended to the name down the road. Regardless, by whichever name you call it, the National Park Service is mandated to adhere by both its own National Park Service Organic Act and the Endangered Species Act when it comes to managing the seashore, and "Recreation Area" does not tip the scales in favor of beach-goers over wildlife.

Lastly, while the ORV access issue certainly has been contentious, divisive, and daunting for land managers and stakeholders to find balance on, it could prove to be merely a bump in the road if the seashore ever gets around to conducting a wilderness feasibility study. For those who would argue that the amending of the seashore's name to include "Recreation Area" tips the balance in favor of recreation, wilderness proponents could just as quickly (and likely will) point to the enabling legislation in arguing for wilderness designations at Cape Hatteras. Here is the pertinent excerpt from the 1937 legislation re wilderness:

Except for certain portions of the area, deemed to be especially adaptable for recreational uses, particularly swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, and other recreational activities of similar nature, which shall be developed for such uses as needed, the said area shall be permanently reserved as a primitive wilderness and no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors shall be undertaken which would be incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna or the physiographic conditions now prevailing in this area . . .(emphasis added)

This is one of the better articles I have read regarding this issue. A journalist should report the facts, not support any one side or add personal commentary and this article is a good balance between the two sides. It irritates me that comments from pro environmentalists and inexperienced beach goers continue to cast a negative light over ORV use on Cape Hatteras and assume that ORV's equate to damage to the seashore. What damage are they really causing? Show me where ORV's are destrying the beach for future generations? Prove to me that ORV's are damaging habitat. You can't do it can you? It may seem like a logical assumption especially to someone that has never been there. The fact is ORV's are no more harmful than the average pedestrian. If you've ever walked out on the beach following a hurricane, a n'or easter, or even a harsh summer thunderstorm, tell me how many vehicle tracks you see? NONE. Tell me how much erosion you see? A LOT. The constant wind and frequent harsh storms reshape the seashore every minute of every day with no contribution from ORV's. Drive across the Bonner bridge from north to south. See the catwalk at the north end of the bridge? Why is it even there? It's over land, not water. Why would you want to fish over a marshy area like that? When the bridge was built the catwalk was over water. Now look at how much of the north end of the bridge spans dry land. Mother nature did that, not a bunch of beer fueled, oil spewing ORV drivers. Remember when the road at the northern end of Rodanthe got washed out recently? Last time I checked that area is off limits to ORV traffic. So how on earth could the beach get so badly damaged if the evil ORV wasn't present? You know the answer. How can you possibly argue that ORV's are having a negative impact on an area that changes so radically by the hands of mother nature?

Oh, and I also got a chuckle out of Chris Canfield saying that relatively few visitors even use ORV's at Cape Hatteras. Isn't he part of the group that loves to spew facts about the hundreds and hundreds of ORV's that constantly litter the point on an average summer day. Which is it Chris? Just a few or hundreds and hundreds?

Everyone tries to argue that the original intent of the CHNSRA was to preserve the Pristine Wilderness for future generations... OOPs Read a little further and some of the originators were guides and promoters for the RECREATIONAL benefits available to all who visited. The area was a flat barren sandy barrier island when the NPS first entertained a Recreational Seashore (long before it was a part of the NPS) because it offered specifically that an area to recreate (there is no specifics to what it means to recreate or is there any restrictions) so to limit recreation by saying it is not mentioned is like saying there were no plovers on the seashore before 1980 so they must be non-native to CHNSRA. Besides they gave Pea Island Refuge for the wilderness (Plover count there anyone? Does wnyone know how much work is put into Pea Island to make it a hospitable place for these creatures and they still do not come? (taken from the NPS history of Cape Hatteras). Also mentioned in there is the fact that Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras and Okracoke were to remain undeveloped pristine wilderness (weird that didn't stick). There is also more mentioned about the Great foresight of places like Kittyhawk for restricting vehicles on the beach. Now look at it?????? Nature at its best. In reference to these little plovers I have this to say... These birds proven existance on the CHNSRA can only be traced to 1980? Vehicles have been on the beaches since the early 1900's??? This is by no fault of anyone but for the NPS and your own federal government. They made the agreements early on to pave a road in the "PRISTINE Wilderness" they Built a Bridge to draw the original intended crowds from the surrounding areas to provide the east coast with a NPS arena close to home, and finally it was our government who brought in the CCC to build dunes and maintain them eliminating more areas for wildlife than all the orv's to enter the shore. If the Environmentalist keep going like this the NPS system will surely be preserved for future generations as they will finally limit humans from the equation.

To Redford and the rest of his/her ilk:

The ORV groups are by and large comprised of PEOPLE who LIVE on the island. I am an ORV enthusiast, and I do not live there, but I have been a visitor for almost 40 years. In all that time I have never seen an intentional violation of a closure area as they existed before the Decree (nor since). ORVs were able to easily co-exist with the habitat requirements. Wildlife was given protection and people had access. There was balance.

Permanent and long-duration closures at the most popular spots is not balance, and that is what is objectionable. It not only denies me from all the favorite locations with essentially no access to the limited open areas, most importantly it violates a trust that was bestowed to the islanders where the park was created. It destroys a cultural tradition long pre-dating the park's creation and your knowledge that the island even existed.

It is your position that wildlife is superior to humans that residents and responsible users of the park find reprehensible. Your are advocating against people, and can't understand the resentment. You deny the economic and social impact of the Decree restrictions, and arguing that even more restrictive rules should be resigned to is simply one person's opinion as well, and not a scientifically supported fact.

I have hauled all my fishing equipment on foot out to Cape Point. I did this as a youth and it is not a task the majority could accomplish due to the extreme physical exertion required. That is one reason vehicle access is the only practical access. Claiming an area is open with no way to get to it is dishonest. ORV groups are concerned pedestrian access and concerned people motivated enough to hike for access will still be denied.

A reasoned person I think would give respect and deference to those who have spent their lives living where they do where it comes to decisions that effect their "very core". Your opinions display arrogance and classism. Any person who holds animal right above human rights basically hates themselves and the rest of humanity.

This comment was edited.--Ed.

Kurt in your quote from theNPs it forgets to mention these simple facts...

Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras and Okracoke were all to be without development... NOT TRUE See pics available from the NPS from Then until NOW. You think that big parking lot near the lighthouse is naturally occuring?

They agreed to make a road through these areas before the creation. This was for the convienance of visitors and combined with the CCC made the island less adaptable for this on specific bird who is threatened and actually was not noted on the island in any numbers until 1980...Non native species.

There is no listing ot limitation for "other Recreational activities" and the ones listed all involved needing access to do them. Access at the time was Off Road vehicle travel. So basically it was understood to be included as it provided the only way to see the remote areas. As it is today.

"Regardless, by whichever name you call it, the National Park Service is mandated to adhere by both its own National Park Service Organic Act and the Endangered Species Act when it comes to managing the seashore, and "Recreation Area" does not tip the scales in favor of beach-goers over wildlife."

See this link from the NPS:
http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/anps/anps_5g.htm

Pay close attention to these areas titled, but please read the entire article and understand that The Official name includes Recreational area.

"The system of National Recreation Areas should:

TERMINOLOGY AND DEFINITION OF SCOPE:

PRIMARY CRITERIA FOR SELECTION OF NATIONAL RECREATION AREAS:

SECONDARY CRITERIA FOR SELECTION OF NATIONAL RECREATION AREAS

ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL RECREATION AREAS

ADMINISTRATION OF NATIONAL RECREATION AREAS

ETC...

In reality this article doesnt really cover what is really happening to the park at Cape Hatteras. The author has gotten himself lost in the minutia of half truths bent and formed to achieve an agenda.

What I would really like to see is an article covering and explaining why The Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNSRA) has to be locked down to the extent proposed in order to provide a balance between conservation and access.

No other NPS seashore has ever had such extreme resource protection measures in place and the delicate balance between protection and accessibility has been kept in those instances. For your reference, Padre Island National Seashore (PAIS) founded September 28, 1962 is strikingly similar to CHNSRA both in geographic and wildlife make up. What PAIS does not have are total beach closures because of resource protection areas, enormous buffer zones. They have turtles that nest in the park just like CHNSRA. They have about 380 species of birds that have been observed there, this is approximately 45% of all bird species documented in North America. Included in that list is the Piping plover (10% of the world's population @ PAIS), Least Terns (8% of the North American population @PAIS), and the endangered Snowy Plover that call Padre their home -- at least for part of the year. This is because of the island's location on the central flyway, a major migratory route between the northern and southern habitats. CHNSRA bird populations pale in comparison to those numbers. Yet somehow the measures in place at PAIS are able to sufficiently strike a balance between humans and nature. In short, the proposed plan for CHNSRA is overly restrictive for an insignificant percentage of the total population of wildlife that it is intended to protect.

Why do we have to "reinvent the wheel", so to speak, at CHNSRA?

Did you know? As of today, of the 60 miles of ORV accessable shoreline @ PAIS that 60 miles of shoreline are still accesable. Even with the estimated 50+ turtle nests as well as protected areas for bird nesting. Some how a balance between conservation and access is in place and working there. Why does it have to be different at CHNSRA?

An article comparing and contrasting the two areas should be on the top of your list.

I read the entire DEIS. Some parts more than once. I also read much of the referenced documents that pertained to shorebirds, particularly AMOY, but that's another story...

Within the DEIS are many peer reviewed studies dealing with topics like soil/sand compaction, viewshed, light pollution, chemical /noise/air pollution, impacts on plants, etc. with relation to ORV use. Guess what? All of the above were shown to have long-term negligable adverse impacts on the ecosystem. If you don't believe me, read that hateful document for yourself. (One item of interest was the fact the the sound of the pounding surf was several Db LOUDER than ORV's!) If ORV use is so detrimental to the ecosystem as a whole, as is constantly suggested by some, wouldn't it have come to light in the DEIS? Also, wouldn't ORV's certainly be banned outright if these claims were true? The claims are false, and the DEIS proves it.

I personally feel that the gazillion signs currently posted the entire length and breadth of the seashore interrupt my "Viewshed", and take away from my vistor experience. To Wit:

I tried to get a picture of the lighthouse, but a sign got in the way....

There has been no harm in fact shown, only speculation, and "Would, Could, Possibly's" abound in the DEIS as a whole. The only leg it can stand on are the purported theories of impacts to T&E species, which can also be thrown into question if one reads deeper into the individual studies cited within the DEIS.

The fact that the NPS has placed T&E protection policies on the American Oystercatcher, which is NOT federally listed at all, and only a "species of concern" in NC, shows that environmental politics have trumped sound science once again. The NCWRC publicly coming out against these measures is very telling of the overreach that has occured throughout this debacle.

On-the-ground science from island residents WAS submitted during the Reg-Neg process, but was summarily rejected. It's not that the Access Groups have not attempted to do so, it has simply been ignored or thrown out. Attempting to argue that angle is absurd, and will only fly with those who are unaware of the details surrounding this issue. Try again, Derb.

My crystal ball sees the April 2011 NPS ORV Ruling Record of Decision release happening on schedule or slightly behind, (likely Alt F with some D thrown in to placate the SELC Cartel), followed immediately by a slew of lawsuits, probably from both sides of the aisle.

The rotund female singer is cued up stage left, but I firmly believe her final performance will not take place in 2011. Stay tuned....

Sorry Redford. Never said they were peer reviewed and neither does most of the stuff used in the DEIS pass that muster. Re pedestrians. The access advocates have asked for such in the form of Pea Island which lies totally within the Seashore boundaries but DOW, Auduban, SELC and pedestrian folks don't want it counted because it dilutes their claims to the rest of the Seashore.

BTW just commenting on the meals link Redford provided.

You note a dramatic decrease in Jan to Jan on Hattera Island except in Buxton because other area merchants chose to close. And a lot of the increase in Buxton can be explained by price increases I have personally witnessed.

OBTW commenting on the occupancy data Redford links. Based on personal observation there is no way Salvo actual body count increased by about 350%. My guess is this revenue is a result of the county effort to nail individual owners renting on their own to avoid the tax (which effort I understand has been quite successful) and/or the rental of a few large mcmansions for a special event and/or a sutuation of 1 going to 4 type of thing.

And lastly as I depart this discussion. My analogy of Yellowstone I believe is valid and has nothing to do with why something is closed.

It's the spin by the environs of saying only X% is affected and not indicating it is the most popular within the X that is affected.

Another analogy. Come on to Bush Gardens or Disney World. Only X% of the attractions are closed. Not mentioning that the X includes the best ones.

Again the analogy has nothing to do with why. It has to do with spin.

Agree with Salvo Jimmy's analogies. Also, lets not forget that you must book your vacation months in advance without knowing what you will be able to access in Seashore.

The access report released today by the NPS indicates that less then 20 miles from Bodie Island to Ocracoke are open to ORVs heading into Memorial Day weekend.

Thank you for the pictures Dapster.

I think the general public needs to be educated on the particular areas that are involved in this controversial issue. They speak of miles of open beach not affected by closures, tourism dollars not being affected, more areas for protected endangered birds. When I hear their comments I know immediately that they have never stayed on Hatteras Island (rodanthe, avon, buxton, frisco, hatteras). These villages are different from northern beaches like corolla/duck/kitty hawk/nags head. Ask the local business owner if his/her business has been affected by bird closures. Where is their such great access to the 70 miles of open seashore? Can you tell me exactly which ramp to take to visit this supposed open area? Oh, park on the side of road in the sand, walk over the dunes and disturb the wildlife, and access the beach? Will you give me permission to drive over the dunes? Why is it that the access ramps are always affected by closures and the areas that are open are impossible to access? Have they ever had a full closure on the village beaches? What, the plovers don't nest there? If they shut down the village beaches there will be to much resistance. There are only a handful of access ramps for the 70 miles of open beach but only someone who has actually been there knows what I'm talking about. What about Pea Island? Isn't that a bird sanctuary? Take the ferry to Ocracoke and see how many of the protected endangered birds are on the dredge islands. To Redford, where do you get your facts? The people who live there or who actually visit this area will tell the truth.

The general public does not care about this issue. The bulk of the vacationers that visit the outer banks stay up north (corolla,duck,kitty hawk, nags head). It's funny how people who neither live or have visited the island are the ones making all the decisions.

THe NPS does not mention the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge that is located ON Hatteras Island. The NPS does not mention the wildlife they have killed trying to protect non-endangered species. The NPS does not acknowledge that they created the environment that Predators live in. The NPS believes the way to manage predation is to kill them. The NPS pays trappers to kill 'non-native species' but fails to menation that the trappers only catch the slower animals and that they are breeding a 'super-predator' that avoids capture/trapping.

I own a home in Buxton. There is NO WAY that rentals are up over previous years. Perhaps the additional income reflects higher prices in rentals.

ALso, prior to the animosity that Mr. Murray refers to, a federal judge ruled that Cape Hatteras is too far south of the Plover normal range to be of any consequence to the survival of the bird.

And if threats were made, why isn't there a public record of same and law enforcement reports relating to an investigation ?

And lastly and IMHO most importantly, when access is denied it is denied to ALL, not just ORVs.

Mr. Repanshek: My apologies, I stand corrected. I probably was thinking of various persons and their associations as opposed to actual number of quotations by each. Since here, I will take this opportunity to throw out one more thought and this is in no way directed at you or a reflection on your article. There are a great many folks that believe this is not about the Piping Plover but rather that there is a contingent of people that don't see any need for anyone driving on the beach (except for probably conservation related purposes) and therefor such should be eliminated. It is obviously much more to it than that but, that's the primary factor. That is the driving force behind all this. If it doesn't benefit the birds, it's not necessary and we just shouldn't allow it. If you were to go back and review all the discussions and documentation during Neg-Reg, everything leading to the litigation and resulting Consent Decree and various articles of opinion along with their method of delivery by many environmental groups and their attorneys, You just might get the same feeling. You might have to do this in a different frame of mind, say, as one who wanted to get to his favorite spot at the point to relax and maybe catch fish for dinner. It's just a feeling. A really strong feeling. Hey, how about you come on down and we'll wet a line together. Maybe we could do it after a little beach cleaning we do (NCBBA - OPERATION BEACH RESPECT). Guaranty you would have a good time.

Respectfully
Ron Saunders

Ron,

I'm sure there are all sorts of behind-the-scenes machinations and ruminations going on...on both sides of the issue. It's a thorny matter with no readily apparent solution. Sadly, I won't be surprised if this returns to court before a final plan is adopted.

As for wetting a line with you, I'd like nothing better! Mr. Couch and Dapster also have offered to give me tours of the seashore, and I'm threatening to take them up on it!

Great !!! You would probably do better with either of them as I am not the greatest fisherman down there. But it doesn't matter. It's just standing there with your feet in the sand, a pole in your hand, good friends and family and your dog by your side. Thats what counts. But you know that.

Best Wishes
Ron

My dogs wouldn't stay by my side. They're springers, and they love the water;-)

Sorry but you would have to keep them leashed. Even if you were the only ones on the beach. Hey, I've never mentioned this anywhere but, maybe this has a little to do with why I feel the way I do. Early spring my wife and I were coming off ramp 4. It had been raining and a lot of water standing. We saw a seagull laying just off the side of the road (Hwy 12) and it was flopping its head side to side. We stopped and got out and picked it up. Took it over to the truck and examined it with our limited knowledge. Didn't appear to be injured in any way. Did look old. We were directly across the road from the OI Fishing Center. There was no activity going on anywhere. So we put it in a box and carried it over and asked the lady at the center if she knew a vet or anyone we could take it to. It was weekend and after several calls we ultimately arranged to hook up with someone who would take care of it. Unfortunately by the time we met with the gentleman a ways down the road, the seagull had died. Only thing we hope is maybe we made it more comfortable than it was laying in the water on the side of the road. While we were examining it after picking it up, we noticed a SUV sitting in the drive going into the fishing center (about 100feet away). On the drive in, we noted that there was a couple in the vehicle and they were taking pictures of birds in the flooded grass between them and the highway, looking directly toward where we had been sitting. They had to see us picking up the gull and examining it. We passed within a foot of them as we drove in. We parked within clear view of them and the lady at the center came out and examined the gull with us on the tailgate of the truck. We passed them again as we left the center. I know I am making an assumption here but, Either they didn't care about a common old seagull, they didn't want to associate with a fisherman/woman, or maybe, just maybe, they were both so engrossed in taking some pictures that they were oblivious to everything else going on around them. We were the only thing happening. Draw your own conclusion.

Thanks, I've been wanting to tell this story for a while. You don't have to print it if you don't feel it proper.

Ron

That's a standing offer, although I would gladly defer you to the care of an islander like John, and take B shift, if available.

I'm glad to see you're a Dog lover, Kurt, welcome to the club. Retrievers are my passion, and we rarely travel without our Black Lab, Annabelle. There is wording within Alt F, (The NPS Preferred), that would BAN ALL PETS from March 15 to July 31, (the balance of the summer), EVEN IN FRONT OF THE VILLAGES!!!

Below is an excerpt from my oral statement, delivered live and in person to Supt. Murray at the Hampton, VA public comment meeting in late April, that should shed some light on the subject:

"The single most troubling aspect of the entire DEIS is the recommendations within the AMOY section in Chapter 2, Page 136, Table 13, Alt F that states “…Prohibition of pets within the seashore during breeding season including in front of the villages, and establishment of breeding and non-breeding SMA’s would benefit the AMOY”. This sentiment is repeated in reference to AMOY several more times throughout the DEIS, and a reference to PIPL on Page 66 of Chapter 2 reads “Pets should be leashed and under control of their owners at all times from March 15 to July 31 on beaches where PIPL are present or have traditionally nested. Pet’s should be prohibited on these beaches from April 1 to August 31 if, based on observations and experience, pet owners fail to keep the pets leashed and under control” Nowhere in the DEIS cited studies for AMOY is there a mandate for total pet exclusion, only restraint. Also, out of the 12 National Seashores nationwide, only two deny pet entry, and both are bound to do so by Florida law, not species protection mandates. Per 2009 NPS field summaries on violations, the vast majority of closure violations involving dogs involve humans as well, as there are very few documented cases of unleashed dogs entering closures by themselves."

(Please note that the page #'s listed above are PRINTED page, not .PDF page #)

I was honored to be part of the OBPA Coalition, Shorebird Subcomittee. I chose AMOY as my species of study because of the above statements, and the fact that I've interacted with them at various times. More on that at another time...

I read every single AMOY paper referenced in the DEIS, and many more that were referenced within the first subset. NOWHERE are there any calls for pet prohibition. No one can figure out exactly where this came from,
and even nore curiously, the SELC supported Alt D does not call for such, or even make any mention of pets other than 6' leashes/restraint, common to all/most parks.

I've often spoken of overreach in this matter, and here's the blatant evidence. What about the quality of life of year-round residents who happen to own dogs and/or own oceanfront property? What of the visitors who come to CHNSRA for the basic reason that they can bring their canine loved ones along? Our dog is an absolute member of our family, nothing less, and I cannot abide with such measures. Many commenters shared this opinion, and we hope to have this travesty stricken from the FEIS and the Final Ruling.

I hope I am not alone in the absolute rejection of the NPS' demonization of our extended non-human family members.

"Demonization of our extended non-human family members"???

C'mon, Dap, I love dogs and like to take them everywhere with me and clean up after them, but there are times when I feel like I'm in the minority in cleaning up after them. There's a dog park of sorts near my house, and they even have a station to dispense bags for collecting your dog's deposits, and you'd be amazed, just amazed, at the number of people who 1) don't use the bags, or 2) use the bags but leave them on the ground.

In light of the number of folks who like to walk barefoot on beaches, I don't think restrictions on dogs (or even cats!) are that outlandish.

Kurt, You have touched on one of the most important subjects involved. Pet restraint and clean up. This has been a tough one to date. Personally have had to ask people to leash their dogs and have occasionally cleaned up after some have left the beach. My wife probably moreso than I. But to assume this can not be overcome is not right. We will all agree that adopting more means of deterrant is necessary. More signage and stiff penalties and fines. A permitting system is already a given so there will not be anymore 'oh, I didn't know'. Got to go back to: Don't penalize all for the misdeeds of a few. That Like saying noone should be able to drive on the highway because a few are reckless. It may not be that simple to work out but, its not impossible. Another situation that some beleave better to just eliminate it as they see no need for pets on the beach to start with.

Ron

A ps: please. It is a given that it will take a lot of effort and ingenuity to work some of this out. But look at how long this has been going on. There are a lot of things that have continually occurred that most everyone has been against. Some have continually tried to correct situations, some didn't care. To institute extreme measures without giving the NPS and more importantly the PEOPLE themselves a chance to correct them and (police them) if you will, does not seem the correct way to go with an incoming new policy. It would make sense to be conservative initially, incorperating means to modify and ammend if the need arises. After all, conditions,situations and information are constantly changing. We are learning more about past and present assumptions and don't know at all what the future might show us. Keep in mind, history shows that most every law and regulation has a tendency to get more strengent as time goes on, particularly when certain special interest groups are involved. We know what ever the outcome at this point, there will be more to come. Its the agenda factor. Lets not give up everything they ask for up front. How many times is a 'right' given back once its been taken away. And be careful what precedents are established, That can be extremely dangerous.

Thanks once more,
Ron

The issues are much boarder and further reaching than most may think. The ESA requires no scientific evidence for listing (just best evidence available which can be anyone’s observations). Anyone with a little clout (aka money) can initiate actions that can, and has, put animals at the top of the chain at the expense of their livelihood or land. Of course what is listed depends on what animals "someone" wants to call out, the other animals that get in the way get exterminated in the name of preservation of wildlife. You all should see the “Kill Truck” here in CHNSRA on their daily catches and termination of what someone decided was NOT to be preserved (100s are put to death).
With the ESA and NEPA, the amount of lawsuits is absolutely amazing and the "industry" of the suits based on non-scientific evidence has employed a very large and wealthy crowd, all due to having to comply with the ESA which is loosely written and prime fodder for lawsuits. Governments (state, federal and local) have to hire full time legal staff just to address the constant barrage of ESA lawsuits, and the only ones getting rich are the lawyers. The Govt. (aka taxpayers) have to pay for these suits, so every one of these actions gets paid for by us. The consent decree is a classic example and has just left me speechless. Then the NPS bowing to the potential lawsuits with their over-zealous DEIS goes to show that it really has nothing to do with conservation and the American enjoyment of their parks, but instead, the NPS rolling over in favor of preserving the wills of the lawyers. To watch the acting director of the NPS sit in front of Congress and testify that the NPS agrees and should have the consent agree imposed on them is incredible. The Director agreeing that the NPS has not done enough and that the legal actions and the choice of one special biased judge is what they want, makes you wonder why the NPS doesn’t just hand the parks over to the judge, but I guess they did. And for what it worth (which does not seem to be a concern for the plaintiffs or the defendant), the residents (locals that no one cares about), the County (which no one has heard of), the state (which has limited representation in Congress) did not have ANY say in what was handed to the NPS to impose. It was the NPS against the Environmental lawyers with anyone else being considered interveners and quickly blown off and told that they have no say in this matter whatsoever since it is a federal park. The park just happens to be sitting in property that was given to them from the local community (duped).
As long as the ESA is around, people will get displaced and areas will be deemed off limits to humans in the name of some animals that someone says should be saved, even if it means massive killing of other animals. Just how many times have we been right about the way to protect or control a species and ended up worse off?
You can come on down and visit the Outer Banks, there are still a few miles of beach that you can step on without getting arrested, but don’t expect that to last. The DEIS will close permanently most of the favored recreational areas; pets will be banned from all park venues so they will have to be left at home. The island environment and your visitor experience as well as the local economy will change as we have already seen. Businesses are laying off employees and year round long term camp site rentals are packing up and leaving since the opportunities enjoying any of the surviving recreational activates on the island without a beach to even use, becomes useless.
The real endangered species here are the historic villages and the culture and tradition of the island.
Take this rant or leave it, but if you contribute to those environmental groups (as I had done in years past), realize that the money raised is used to sue yourself as well as take away your ability to use our own land recreationally.

Kurt,

I knew my last sentence would draw fire, but it's simply the way I and many other feel about this. This was a complete blindside, as nothing of the sort was ever mentioned through the course of Reg-Neg, nor was anything even remotely close to it requested by any of the stakeholder groups.

I've seen waste issues around public dog parks as you mention, but I can promise you that you will find nothing of the sort anywhere on this seashore. The off-leash violations are an issue, as I see several every day that I am there, but I also agree with Ron that we should not employ the "Kindergarten Mentality" and punish the whole class for the actions of a few clowns.

Part of the issue is the lack of NPS regulations knowledge prevalent in the pedestrian user group. At every ORV/Pedestrain area "interface", there are no signs present to alert the people staying at the village beach house to any of the regulations! None, zip, zero. Some rental agencies supply information, but none are required to.

CHNSRA already employs regulations concerning pets, being that they are either crated or leashed, and are under control at all times while within the park. They are also already banned within the SMA's as shown in my earlier pictures. An outright ban for the entirety of the high-summer/tourist season, for a bird that is not federally listed, in areas like in front of the villages where species nesting of any type is very rare, just does not make any sense at all to me.

Here's some more info on the matter from the local HI press:

http://islandfreepress.org/PivotBlog/pivot/entry.php?id=87

In trying to understand where this originated, many roundtable discussions have yielded this hypothesis:

Feral and/or domestic cats pose a serious predation issue to both shorebird and turtle young, to the level where they are managed through trapping and "relocation" by NC DOA and the NPS. It is my understanding that said predation occurs more frequently in the Buxton-to-Frisco area, which surrounds Cape Point and South Beach, the area of greatest contention and PIPL closures. (It's also the most densely populated part of the banks, as it is also the widest and most wooded landmass on the entire island chain, and perfect habitat for both humans and feral cat colonies).

It has been suggested that the NPS is primarily after cats in this, but taking dogs out of the mix collaterally would make management of the area just that much easier. Hence "Pets", so don't bring your hamster, either....

Our biggest collective fear is that of incrementalism, as Ron has stated before me. A small Reg. tweak here, and adjustment there, it never really stops. Many believe the regulations could end up mirroring those of the Virginia portion of Assateague Island:

"Pets are prohibited in the entire Virginia portion of Assateague Island, even in your car. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages nearly all of the land area on the Virginia portion of Assateague Island as a National Wildlife Refuge."

Operative phrases: "...Even in your car", and "...Managed.. as a National Wildlife Refuge", when it is actually a National Seashore. See where I'm going with this?

http://www.nps.gov/asis/faqs.htm

PINWR is the northernmost area of the Hatteras Island chain. If that type of regulation is put in place there, you would be in violation of federal law by simply transporting a pet onto the island, as you must pass through it to reach the villages to the south.

Some might tell me to tighten the tinfoil over this belief, but after what I've seen over the past two years, nothing surprises me any more, and I've seen much crazier stuff become a reality.

Dapster
Do you think you can ever stop human error? What do you think would happen if one Jack Russell terrier got loose at Cape Point in the tern colony?

Dapster let me explain to other readers about your Lighthouse picture. That is a turtle nest on the most used pedestrian beach in the Seashore. The closure never impeded access. If you had moved your vantage point over 100 feet either way you would have had a perfectly good picture of the Lighthouse without the closure signs. People read the Traveler who actually are familiar with the area and don’t have the pro ORV access agenda that you do.

Your implication of being inconvenienced for a scenic photo is ridiculous and disingenuous in this situation. It makes you less creditable.

Anonyous, your accusation to dapster of being disingenuous must be to shift the light away from you.

To continue to portray this as strictly an ORV issue is actually disingenuous and makes YOU less credible.

The people that read the Traveler and actually visit CAHA know this too. These closures are designed to keep people out. Pedestrian and ORV and surfers and birders and shellers and kite boarders and the list goes on. When you can acknowledge that and then justify the excessive closures, then maybe we can take your position seriously.

I believe your arguments, and the arguments of Redford are actually directed to the folks that DON'T visit CAHA. You know that ORVs are not causing harm to resources and habitat, but continually say they do, hoping the non-visiting public will believe you and get on your bandwagon. You know there have been wildlife closures and pedestrian and ORV regulations in place for over 30 years. To imply there's been no regulations up to now is disingenuous. You know ORVs in CAHA are used as a means to get from point A to point B, park, and get out enjoy ones chosen recreation on the beach, and not a joy-riding experience up and down the beach. You know that ORV use allows people to get to the most remote places in CAHA to enjoy those places only the most physically fit could reach on foot.

You know there is 12 miles of pedestrian only, maximum wildlife protection beach on the north end of Hatteras Island, but choose to ignore that. But alas, we all know you know this too.

So, who's really being disingenuous here?

to Anonymous on may 24 5:32am
It is funny you would say ANYTHING regarding that vantage point
"Your implication of being inconvenienced for a scenic photo is ridiculous and disingenuous in this situation. It makes you less creditable."
For you to suggest it is only an "inconvenience" makes you less knowledgeable and misinformed about this "situation" and the lack of access being felt here. That area shown (and the view) has been completely closed to ALL activity and you can no longer even set foot near that area or you will be fined.
Less creditable, well, if you only knew a bit about what little was left open for visitors to enjoy, you might better understand the concern for our visitors to this park. It is no longer a beach to visit to frolic and enjoy the surf, sand and waves and has been designated protected and isolated areas for wildlife (not all wildlife, other wildlife will be terminated). "100 feet either way"...again, you do not understand that the buffer the judge decided to give to a bird is 1000m, and the beach is not even that wide.
Just had to toss that out there for other reader to understand how bad it really is, and from someone that actually knows what is and is no longer open.

"Your implication of being inconvenienced for a scenic photo is ridiculous and disingenuous in this situation. It makes you less creditable."

Did you perhaps mean "Credible"? No matter, for I am only lessened in your eyes, and by your measure, both of which mean little to me, frankly.

But speaking of "disingenous", I suggest you look in the mirror, pal. This statement, "The closure never impeded access.", can be proven FALSE simply by looking at the largest of the 17-odd signs in my photo that reads "SHORELINE CLOSED AT ALL TIDES TO PEDESTRIANS AND VEHICLES" to the far right of the lighthouse. That means you go no further on the shoreline than the line of signs. Walk around back of it, perhaps, but the SHORELINE is nonetheless closed.

Was that picture taking from a vantage chosen for maximum impact? Why, yes, it was, but it was not altered in any way, shape of form beyond that. If the Anti-ORV crowd had not tried to pass off the below fabrication as fact, I might not have been inspired to act in kind in this context.

To Wit:

SELC BIS Altered Photo-Single

This photo was debunked as altered to show maximum vehicle density at Bodie Island Spit, on what was likely a Memorial weekend crowd, and touted as an every-weekend-occurence by an SELC Cartel member on this very forum on 2008. The height-to-width ratio is glaringly off is this photo, likely due to being photoshopped for effect, and many posters picked up on it right away. (The SELC even removed it from their own website after it was exposed as a fraud.)

I am simply employing the exact same tactics, (although to a lesser, more truthful degree), used serially by the SELC Cartel to further THEIR/YOUR agenda, and it would appear that you don't like having tables turned on you.

Tough Stuff, Jack. Fire is now being fought with fire. Better get used to it.

Kurt,
I want to thank you for the article as it is perhaps the most moderate piece you’ve written on this exhausting subject. Many are the issues that make up the fight for access to this amazing place.
You stated that development of the Seashore “might have been a grand idea in the 1930s” as though it were no longer true. Those of us that live within the bounds of the Seashore and those that visit are very glad that it was established; else we would be just another Nags Head or Myrtle Beach with wall to wall motels, malls, and chain stores. Though the boundaries of the villages were expanded to allow for future growth to accommodate the anticipated visitation, mentioned by former NPS director, Conrad Wirth, the community is still small and 98% of the businesses on the Islands are “mom and pop” shops with less than a dozen employees. It’s fun to think that I’m 70 miles away from fast food and 100 miles from Wal-Mart.

I think if you’re going to mention plovers at the Seashore it behooves you give light to the fact that since the plover first arrived on these beaches in 1960, not one single plover death or destroyed nest can be attributed to an ORV. For decades we shared the same beach areas with these birds as they nested and all without harm. I think you should also mention that 100% of all documented plover mortality at the Seashore has been to either storms or predation.

You should also mention that the Atlantic population of charadrius melodus, aka, the Piping Plover, is just over one hundred breeding pair away from being eligible for de-listing from the Endangered Species Act. USFWS sets the target population at 2000 breeding pair which will likely be achieved this year or next, as last year’s count was 1889 pair.

Though the plover has become a symbol in this war for access, I don’t know anybody who wishes harm to these birds. As a community, I think we’re collectively very proud of the fact that no harm has come to these birds as a result of our use of this resource. However, the concept, indeed reality, of a 771 acre closure for a single plover chick is beyond reasonable.

If you’re going to talk turtles, I feel it’s important to mention that here at the Seashore, we have a better false crawl to nest ratio than USFWS sets for a completely undisturbed beach. Also that it has been documented that almost 40% of the turtle nests at the seashore are lost here annually because of storms, predation, and the refusal by NPS to move nests that are prone to washout and flooding in high risk areas which is completely unrelated to ORV use at the Seashore.

Kurt, apparently you need to make a trip to the Seashore. You mention “rip-rap, seawalls, groins, and jetties”. We one set of jetties or what used to be jetties as they have decayed to the point of almost non existence. We don’t have seawalls, rip-rap or groins here, we have sand. Your inclusion of these terms in your article implies that such things exist here when in fact they don’t, not within the Seashore, not on the ocean beaches. This isn’t Myrtle Beach.

You just have to love Chris Canfield, President of Audubon N.C. For the last few years he’s been screaming about increased ORV use, and that we’re crowding the Seashore, etc. Now he’s quoting the Voglesong study (again) to give the impression that only a minute portion of the visitors to the Islands come to access the beaches by ORV. At issue is that when Voglesong was peer reviewed as required, those that gave their opinion deemed the study essentially worthless and not worthy of further review as the data and its collection was flawed so horribly.

And yes, Mr. Canfield, we know it’s about birds other than the plover. The question is do you know that in N.C. ”species of concern” means nothing more than the state wants to know more about the birds? Are you aware of the DEIS public comment made by Gordon Myers, Chairman of the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, whose policies effectively dictate wildlife management policy to NPS here at the Seashore stating: “State-listed "species of concern," - such as the American oystercatcher - do not require the extensive buffers and beach closures mandated for federally listed species such as the piping plover.” And, “To treat it as synonymous with threatened and endangered is not congruent”?

Canfield also probably didn’t tell you about the beachfront property on Bodie Island that Audubon just sold for 25 million dollars. The area was supposed to be reserved as a nature area and being beachfront is subject to tern and oystercatcher nesting. They sold it so it could be developed and the plans have just been approved. Nice job Mr. Canfield!

You’d think that somebody from the National Parks Conservation Assn. might learn a little about the Seashore before they make comment. Kristen Brengle clearly has no idea of how this seashore operates. Her assumption that “we” close the beaches in front of the villages for tourism dollars is patently false. The seasonal closures are “safety” closures enacted by NPS because of the number of pedestrians on those beaches and prevent all but NPS vehicles and perhaps commercial fisherman from entering these areas. Nobody has an issue with this.

If Ms. Brengle had any idea as to how the closures have come to be under the consent decree and the tremendous loss of access and the resulting economic impact on the islands, she would know that her statements “So to say that now, with the closures specifically for off-road vehicles use, they’re not used to it, I don’t think that that’s a true statement”, and, “And to make it seem like a closure here and there to protect some turtle and bird nesting is such a concept that’s wildly out of sync with how things have been managed down there is incorrect” are utterly ridiculous. She apparently fails to realize that these closures not only affect ORV’s, but all access, period.

And then there was this comment by Mike Murray, Superintendant of Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. “So, lack of parking is a big root cause to the dilemma we face today,” he says. “People have become dependent upon driving and parking on the beach.” With all due respect Mike, that is absurd and you know it.

I was there at the “meet and greet” meeting you held at the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club when you described the times you spent as a child with your family driving on the beaches of the Seashore. I was there in that standing room only meeting when you stated that “as far as I’m concerned, beach driving is a traditional form of access”, words I will never forget.

To suggest that the use of the Seashore for vehicular access and parking is because of the lack of parking along the roadside and within the villages is a blatant attempt at re-inventing the intended purpose of this resource which is apparently in vogue within NPS these days and contradicts your own experience and opinion, Mike.

About the numbers you quoted, the 2.2 million visitors NPS reports is an invalid number as it incorporates visitor use of Fort Raleigh and the Wright Brothers site as well neither of which are part of the Seashore and are in fact miles away. The reality of the majority of businesses on the Islands reporting 40 to 60% percent loss of sales since the inception of the consent decree and the subsequent beach closures is in argument with that number. For that number to be true, six thousand visitors would have been on the Islands every single day of the year last. And yet for the first time in my memory of visiting here for 30 years and living here for four, mid morning, all summer long, I could drive from Buxton to Avon and never pass another vehicle. What normally would have been the busiest stretch of road on the island was empty day after day, virtually all day.

The revenue figure you report is distorted and misleading though no fault of your own I’d think. It’s almost as though there were two Dare Counties, Kurt. There’s upper Dare which includes the incorporated, populated, and heavily developed areas like Nags Head or Kitty Hawk and then there’s the Seashore and the villages contained within. What goes on up there, 70 miles away, is no reflection on what happens down here.

That figure also falsely reports the spending of locals within the county as it is included and is not tourist income. The other distorting factor comes in that Dare is now taxing services like extra pillows, roll away beds and such where prior to the consent decree, they were not.
Whether you wish to factor all of these things into the equation or not, one thing cannot be denied, since the inception of the consent decree, Dare County has gone from being the number two “donor” county in the state to that with the highest unemployment rate.

The impairment issue is moot as after years of study to try and prove impairment by various and sundry methods, both the government and environmental groups have yet to show that traditional use of the Seashore has caused such. An unfortunate and yet ridiculous trend that is beginning to emerge as a result of the long, failed, attempt at showing harm is the call by anti-access groups that we, as users of this resource, should be required to conduct study to prove that we in fact aren’t harming the environment or the wildlife. This effectively requests us to prove a negative and if decades of study cannot produce evidence of harm, there is no need to attempt to prove no harm is done.

Before I close, I’d like to address your use of the enabling legislation in a reply you posted, Kurt. Your view that the latter portion would be seized and used by environmental groups is correct. They’ve been doing that for years in attempt to claim that the intended purpose of the Seashore was “to be reserved as primitive wilderness” and protect the “unique flora and fauna now contained within this area”.
You’re forgetting the exemption and what it says. Oddly, it was included in your quote. Let’s have a look at that.

“Except for certain portions of the area, deemed to be especially adaptable for recreational uses, particularly swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, and other recreational activities of similar nature, which shall be developed for such uses as needed,”

Here the Congress tells NPS in very simple terms that this area is to be developed for recreational use “as needed”. In other words, when the people come to enjoy their resource it shall be made available to them for the above mentioned activities and “other recreational activities of a similar nature”.

It is because of this statement that the Congress used the term “reserved” as opposed to “preserved” as “primitive wilderness” in the remaining phrase in this portion of the enabling legislation. Use of the word “preserve” would have negated the first portion of the section where Congress implores the NPS to develop the area as needed.

Now before anybody starts screaming that I advocate no protection for the wildlife that nests here at the Seashore, I’ll come right out and state that I do believe that reasonable and warranted protections should be in place when necessary. What I don’t agree with is the draconian closures that are part of the consent decree or the NPS proposed Alt. (F) as neither can be justified by sound, peer reviewed science, federal law, or the use history of this resource. Without the ability to show that visitor usage has caused or is causing real harm or impairment to the area, these very real and proposed devastating closures are patently unwarranted.
Thanks Kurt,

Tight Lines,

Wheat

A point of clarification is in order here. The article did not say that Cape Natteras National Seashore -- or any other Outer Banks locale -- has jetties, groins, rip-rap, or seawalls. These were cited as examples of beach hardening tactics on coastal barriers that work against natural processes and are self-defeating. North Carolina banned beach hardening structures in 2003, and has effectively banned them since 1985.

Wheat,

The 2.2 million number does not include those other units you mentioned. You can find it at the National Park Service's public statistics web site: http://www.nature.nps.gov/stats/

Once there you can find the stats for Cape Hatteras, Fort Raleigh, etc.

Kurt, I guess because of the responses to any writing you do in reference to Cape Hatteras getting more responses than the next 100 articles combined says something about the feelings about this. I will also state the looking at the letter of the law at the NPS about what constitutes a recreational area and the fact they leave this out ILLEAGALLY (per congress) from legal documentation. The fact this got no response is discouraging as it seems cut and dry per the NPS's own declaration of what a Recreational area is to be. Look at Lake mead?

Secondly I wanted to point out the real reason behind the lawsuit.... EASY MONEY for the SELC. For proof read Mr. Canfields own words from the article above...

“You can talk about predators, you can talk about weather. Well, we have to control all the 'controllables' we can,” he says. “We can’t control the weather. We can do something about predators, and the Park Service tries. But we certainly can control the people factor, so that’s what we’re also trying to do.”

PS there is a nice storm brewing in CHNSRA right now :) and I cannot wait to see the report this Thursday from the NPS on what happened

As I noted in the 3rd graf, Matt:

In the landscape of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a landscape accustomed to being shoved around by the Atlantic Ocean, shrinking habitat for both the piping plover and for surf fishermen has generated a controversy for the National Park Service, one threatening to rival that which has swirled around snowmobiles and Yellowstone National Park for more than a decade.

At this point, I'd venture that this issue has become more cantankerous than the Yellowstone snowmobile debate, which is going strong after more than a decade.

It's certainly good, though, that people are speaking up, whichever side they align themselves with. That's the way things should be. As it's been said many times over, "decisions are made by those who show up."

Input is needed from all stakeholders to arrive at a reasonable compromise. But then, of course, the squabble revolves around what is "reasonable."