April Fool's Story On Cape Hatteras Not Funny To All Readers

The issue of access on Cape Hatteras National Seashore is among the most contentious in the National Park System. The presence of species that are recognized as threatened by both the federal government as well as the state of North Carolina requires the National Park Service to manage the seashore in such a way that protects and benefits these species.

Unfortunately, that management approach has not been welcomed or supported by all. There have been reports of harassment of seashore personnel, vandalism on the seashore, economic hardship, and long-time beach-goers who are finding it more and more difficult to reach long-treasured spots on the cape.

Traveler's attempt on April Fool's Day to take a pause from the heated atmosphere that has swirled about the seashore fell flat with some readers, including those at the Park Service. Recognizing those concerns and objections, the story has been taken down.

While the intent was not to further aggravate the situation, it regrettably appears to have done just that in some corners.

Traveler has long served as an open forum for the exchange of information and opinions about this controversy, and will continue to do so.


Disappointing that you are caving to pressure from your audience. I didn't even get to read the story, but I frankly don't care how offensive it was- once you start basing your editorial decisions on "whos toes are we stepping on," it's a slippery slope.
And to the people that whined about it, on this day of all days, I feel bad for you. You have another 364 days of the year to be [easily offended] This is the one day to laugh about some things that are out of your direct control. It doesn't mean you don't care about the issue, it just means you have a sense of humor. Pathetic.

Perhaps an apology, at least, would be in order?

So, tell me Mark, do you consider the CAHA NPS Superintendent and Staff to be "Tight-Assed", as you quipped?


They are among those who objected, so you might wish to hold both your judgment and contempt until you have understood all the facts, although this statement kind of says it all:

"I didn't even get to read the story, but I frankly don't care how offensive it was"

Yep. Speaks volumes....

Kurt, thank you for making this right. No need to fan the flames. attempt on April Fool's Day to take a pause from the heated atmosphere that has swirled about the seashore fell flat with some readers, including those at the Park Service. Recognizing those concerns and objections, the story has been taken down.

Tell that to the people who are losing their jobs because of what is being joked about. I again would expect the Traveler to follow its own code of conduct and from this point on will be only a reader as this is not what I want to contribute to. I will hold a copy of this article and remind myself everyday how an organization really feels when someone goes against their beliefs.

Two last notes:

One is please read your own code of conduct before creating a pharse like this.

Second is work on your apologies you sound like you work for the president...

If this gets posted I will be amazed.

I for one appreciate the attempt to lighten the mood a bit. Of course, I can see how some wouldn't be amused, but that's just the nature of a good joke. It's hard to make everyone laugh, even on April Fool's.

Whats pathetic Mark is that you find humor in the suffering of others. We live on two narrow strips of sand within an economy essentially created by NPS. An economy that NPS is wont to destroy without, so far, any appreciable benefit to wildlife.
It ceases to be a joke when these "protection" measures take your job, in my case twice. It isn't funny if you happen to be one of the 54 plus business owners that have lost everything since these closures began. And I doubt that any of the owners of the 400 odd homes that are now in foreclosure find it amusing either.
We do care about this issue and it's never been funny

I don't understand how you think its a joke to the hard working people loosing their houses, forced to
leave the Island all because of 10 (on average) Piping Plover on this
entire Island. You might think it's funny, I think you are a fool.

Re: Matt Stubbs:

Do you really promise not to contribute any more? That would make the joke completely worthwhile!


See how easy it was to slip the rest of the way? Now there's even more outside pressure, so you're afraid to even present both sides opinions. Not only do you give "bloggers" a bad name, you further reinforce the public opinion that bloggers can't be capable objective journalists. And in your case, it looks like they're right.
Who needs that pesky "freedom of speech" anyway, right?

Boy all you all need to lighten up some! Part of what is wrong with this country is that folks have lost their sense of humor. All OVER the country folks have lost their jobs and have lost their homes, not just on this piece of sand. The National Park Traveler is a very valuable resource for my family and even though the April Fool's joke fell flat that doesn't change how I feel about Kurt and all the folks at Traveler and the information they provide.

Hey Colorado Cowgirl,

Thanks for providing some much needed perspective here.

I'd bet those who are say "lighten up a little" haven't visited the area, and haven't been shoehorned into the beaches that are open for recreation – which by the way, shrink with each passing year, and are closed earlier and earlier each year. Everyone needs to understand it's not just the ORV community that's impacted by these draconian closures. Beachcombers, surfers, kayakers - EVERYONE is negatively impacted by these unnecessary and asinine measures. There’s not been 1 documented death or injury caused to these birds by pedestrian or ORVers – not 1. Pro-access groups have repeatedly requested scientific data that substantiates the need for the beach closures. What has the NPS provided; studies from 3,000 miles away and data provided by the Audubon society. Are you kidding? Know the facts before you ignorantly say “take it with a grain of salt.”

Kurt, you and your staff do a very good service to the public, administrators of our public treasures and to the treasures, I believe. We all are certainly capable of going down the wrong roads at times in the atmosphere that pervades today. It's when things diminish into mostly PR wars absent of the grounding of those least likely to fall into one camp or the other that things really run amuck, I believe. I didn't catch the April Fools Post but am guessing it may have had a grain of truth to it. Most all humor does...and the humorless doesn't, LOL!

Colorado Cowgirl said:
All OVER the country folks have lost their jobs and have lost their homes, not just on this piece of sand.
She nailed it. How self-involved those few whiners on Hatteras are that they can't see that the threat to businesses isn't the temporary closure of beaches for shorebirds, but the effect of a historic economic collapse on a place that's out of the way and pretty expensive to visit.

It's not for nothing that the area around Kitty Hawk and Nag's Head is still drawing tourists. It's easier to get to.

The DOI and National Park Service have lost their frickin minds!! The people of this or any land in this United States had bette wake up and realize that one of yours and my rights is to provide for my family, the right to freedom of speech and the right to access public funded lands. I plan on being in Haqtteras in 1 month and screw the birds. When my brother lost his legs in Iraq he thought he had lost his ability to get on the beach. I'll be damned if a fricking bird will keem me from DRIVING him out on the beach and getting his set up to enjoy the sand and catch fish. 10 birds, get the hell over it!!

We all know someone at this point who has lost their job, has lost their home or their business due to the economy. One thing you may not realize is that these Island Whiners have lost their jobs, homes and businesses due to 10 birds (avg) and the Bird huggers that counted them(disregarding the ones on the outlying dredge islands).
The "temporary" beach closures are during the time of the year that the economy sustains these whiners for the entire year. Not so hypothetical situation: YOU are employed year round. You make 3/4 of your annual income in 6 months. You budget and save to make sure you are covered for the lean 6 month period. The main source of your customer base is your location. Now, someone with political clout decides that, during the 6 months you make the majority of your annual salary, there are a few birds nesting(that may POSSIBLY have chicks) along the only road to your place of employment and they close the road to anything but "local traffic". You have now lost your customer base, therefor a majority of your income. Would you appreciate being called a whiner when your business closes or you get laid off because you now have no draw to your customers? After all it is beyond your control...

I will simply state that if the joke was that thousands of dead polar bears washed up on the shores of the hamptons and people were using pitchforks to load them into trucks before the newspapers found out.

Now that is funny

Or maybe we could say that a large group of scientist have just discovered that the world is warming at an alarming rate and the polar caps are melting ooooooh nevermind Gore did that one already.

As far as this joke I think some members of this special website are wearing thin and losing their cool so his joke has as stated above bears his true feelings and maybe he needs to lighten up especially if it means his job.

Tell your brother thank you for his sacrifice for our country,my hats off to him.I igree with you 100%.Maybe we just need to do like the mideast countries & say the hell with this government & take back what is ours!

While we can appreciate the need for folks to vent their anger, both over the Traveler and the access regulations at the seashore, we're trying to toe the line with those comments. We will not post threats, nor links to sites that carry threats.

Also, this site is not affiliated in any way with the National Park Service. We are independently operated. As such, criticism of the Park Service is not warranted in connection with this matter.

Knowing that there are so many self-centered and whiny people on Cape Hatteras will make me less likely to visit. If our soldiers are fighting in Iraq to support our "right" to destroy the planet then we're in worse shape than I'd thought. And didn't I just read that the beach is naturally eroding by 3 feet a year? Also, learn to spell. Now I'm done whining.

I too wish you had left it up and not caved. And I read it (and with foresight, even made a copy on word). For all the crying, I found the NPS was the major brunt of the joke, so you would have thought they would have enjoyed that. I guess the error was having any mention of their contignent, as everyone else is fair game in their book.

And as I've said elsewhere, they can dish it out - cheering each other on accusing NPS staff of all manner of misconduct and crimes short of having sex with children and animals - but they can't take it.

They had a federally-funded golden goose, and they killed it with their greed for more and more McMansions to hold more and more people far beyond the capacity of the resource.

There are some genuinely reasonable and rational members of the ORV contingent, though we'll never see them posting here or any of the other popular NPS-staff bashing boards. The vocal minority use whining and intimidation to silence any opposition who even tries to have a rational discussion with them.

LMAO! For the second time today.

Okay, I hope everyone has it all out of their systems.

Despite a joke that backfired, Traveler remains the best website concerning national parks anywhere.

Let's all take a big, deep breath and come back again tomorrow. All calmed down and smiling.

Lee Dalton:
Okay, I hope everyone has it all out of their systems.

Despite a joke that backfired, Traveler remains the best website concerning national parks anywhere.


I read the controversial April Fool's story. OK, it can be criticized as less than perfect satire, since it has one of the characters recommending a course of action that wouldn't make sense coming from a person in that position. But the reaction to it, and Kurt's feeling the need to pull it from the website, constitute more alarming evidence that a gray goo has settled over and is smothering public discourse. People call attention to political correctness, but that's only part of the problem. Management-speak, corporate-speak, legalese and legalspeak, military and national-security jargon, bureaucratese, educratese, and of course politically correct avoidance of or blanding down of issues—all of these unfortunate phenomena are coating public discussion in a kind of Pepto-Bismol of the mind, and one effect of this is that any attempt at satire becomes extremely dangerous. (At my workplace, people stopped writing April Fool's memos about 15 years ago, and they were wise to do so.) I regret that Kurt felt the need to remove the article, but I also don't want to criticize him for doing it, because it's any writer's right to pull back his or her writing. I found nothing offensive about it.

Thank you, imtnbike, for the most sensible comment I have read on this affair.


Living in Buxton on Cape Hatteras Island it is hard for me to find much humor in the suffering inflicted on our community due to the beach access controversy. Over the lasts few years I have watched one family afteer another endure hardships as a loss of their job or the closing of businesses. Our church sponsored food pantrys have been doing the best they can to help the families out of work. Many families have had to make cut backs that included change their childrens plans to go on to higher education due to a lack of funds. The beach access issue has not only hurt the Buxton area economically but completely changed our traditonal way of life. Prior to the closing of our famed Cape Point and South Beach it was a traditional gather place for the locals to meet and greet one another. Not only has it destroyed our way of life but our respect for the National Park. Because of the ruthless way the park adminstration has handled the issue they are no longer viewed as our friends but our enemies. It grieves me to see what used to be our friends now viewed as gun totting enforcers ready to shoot animals or humans they view as predators to the piping plovers. The predator progam definitely needs to be revised. I like a good joke as much as the next person but I did not find much humor in your article.

Forget the effect on Satire it's much worse than that. It goes to the core of all the evil that's evident today. Truth is basically offensive to some so it has to be skirted or somehow punished when it appears. What a crock...

Kurt don’t sweat any of it. The NP Traveler is a great site that I really enjoy reading even though I didn't care for the joke.

Most likely you have made the day for the ORV proponents with the retracted April Fools article, nothing makes them feel better than righteous indignation and they figure you are beholden to them now.

Get ready to experience what the reasonable people in this controversy have to put up with on a daily basis from the Cape Hatteras ORV access fanatics.

Gee, Kurt, couldn't you have done your April Fools story on Mules in the Grand Canyon,LOL? Guess one could just insert different locations :). Interesting reading the comments without benefit of the story.


Could you list the businesses which have closed along with the evidence the business went under as a direct or even indirect result of the closures and not just standard turnover/bad business model in a tourist community? Thanks.

I can't think of any. The only two businesses I know of - the ones used in the propaganda piece "Piping Mad" - that have closed, had nothing to do with species protections.

In the meantime Buxton has a new gas station, car wash, new shop by Angelos, new NAPA ... there are two new restaurants in Avon .... just off the top of my head.

Unfortunately the 'joke' deflects attention from what in my mind is the real issue. NPS Management is non-existent. At the park in question, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, the superintendent just recieved an accomplishment award for abandoning a half finished lighthouse restoration project (Bodie Island) and implementing an unpopular (unfunded and overly restrictive) ORV management plan based on poor science. The plan cannot be placed into action this year, (no time and no money) but the NPS will not allow access to our public beaches based on a prior consent decree from a federal judge. I fear budget issues will lead to the closure of the park. I wish the GAO would audit the NPS. Something is radically wrong.


I missed yesterday's story and am sorry to see you have to wade through this kefluffle today.

Mort Sahl, National Lampoon, Mel Brooks, Lenny Bruce, and more all leave a fine tradition of sinking to low standards nobly.

You have a year to prepare for next year's April Fool's story and hopefully it will be a more satisfying experience for you.

The Miss Grundy's of the world need to add more fibre to their diets and get over it.

For all those who do not know and understasnd the history of the CHNSRA here it is. This seashore is a recreational area is not a refuge or sanctuary. This is why people are fighting mad over the closers including myself. This seashore is the PEOPLES SEASHORE.

June 23, 1936 Passage of the Park, Parkway and Recreational Area Study Act

August 17, 1937 Act of Congress establishes the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to provide recreational access to the general public

June 29, 1940 Congress amends the authorizing legislation to permit hunting. At the same time the term “Recreational Area” was added to the park’s name to address NPS sensitivity to the issue of hunting and to further emphasize the “RECREATIONAL” nature of the seashore as a destination for beachgoers and fishermen.

May 10, 1954 NPS determines administratively that the name “Cape Hatteras National Seashore” may be substituted in all but the most formal memoranda and legal documents for the cumbersome “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area”


It wouldn't really matter if it was Disneyland. The government has got to follow the mandates and laws prescribed for government property in the system.

02-02-1972 Executive Order 11644 President Richard Nixon signs order requiring (ORV) management plan for National Park

1977 President Jimmy Carter signs Executive Order #11989 Amends and broadens Executive Order 11644 requiring National Park Service to manage ORV use within the National Parks.

1977 Cape Hatteras National Seashore presents its ORV Management Draft Plan.

1978: Outer Banks Preservation Association is formed and writes an alternative ORV management plan.

1999 Bluewater Network files petition with the NPS to ban all ORVs from all National Parks.

18-10-2007 Lawsuit brought against NPS and others The Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, and Southern Environmental Law Center sue the National Park Service, Dare County NC, and the Department of the Interior for failure to produce an ORV management plan.

Humm! It would be great if the government did follow the mandates and laws especially the NPS. They have failed to recognize that that the CHNSRA IS A RECREATIONAL AREA!!! Have you ever been to the CHNSRA? Do you know its history? The NPS will not even put RECREATIONAL AREA on the signs leading into the CHNSRA or on the closer signs.So technically the closers are not legal since all closer signs are missing Recreational Area. That is mandated by Congress. Yet the locals have stayed out of the closers. Guess they do not want everyone to know they are being kept out of a Recreational Area! Funny how they only follow the mandates they choose to.The Alligator River Wildlife Refuge has more access than the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. They are both in Dare County, one is a Refuge and the other a Recreational Area. Now which one should have more access? So why are they only the laws they want too?

Questions: Where do these groups get their funding and is it their business model to profit from these lawsuits? Who pays the attorneys? Shouldn't Congress be making some of these decisions instead of unelected agenda driven entities that have grown so prevalent in the last few decades. What direction are they headed and what are their ideal outcomes. What is their end game and do they really hate their fellow man as it seems? April Fools day is over and I do LOVE satire so in the spirit of good will and problem solving what could be the answers to questions many in the population would like to know.

With Superintendents being so connected to these groups with their retirement plans and philosophy you think they might be contributing to the litigation against their own benefactors?

Again, it doesn't matter what you want to call it. Laws and mandates prevent the NPS from allowing the free-for-all that has been the case for the past ~30 years. They must protect the resource - which includes the biotic and abiotic - for future generations.

Like more satire,
If there are no laws or precedents backing the lawsuits, the attorneys get nothing. Your problem should be with Congress and the Executive branch, which passed the laws and handed down the executive orders, not with the attorneys, the groups they represent, and the NPS who attempt to follow the law.

Please bring your brother here to Hatteras Island. I thank him for his service to my country. The people on Hatteras Island are very passionate about their National Park. It's a very caring community. This link is a prime example of what this Island represents.

Kim is right. Hatteras Island folks are a caring, close knit group. The Wounded Warriors program is just an example. I've volunteered any spare bedrooms in my cottage and my (questionable) experience as a fishing guide and my SUV (if they are still allowed on the beach) to any Wounded Warrior who wants to take advantage of the program.

It grieves me to see a special interest group running roughshod over the lives of these people.

A short video of the plight of the Island residents: http://vimeo.com/14696293


I think Like-more-satire's posts were intended to be satirical.

Or a Poe?

This is not the first time that an April Fool involving a National Park resource resulted in a backfire. As described in Wikipedia:

"The Taco Liberty Bell was an April Fools Day joke played by fast food restaurant chain Taco Bell. On April 1, 1996, Taco Bell took out a full- page advertisement in seven leading U.S. newspapers announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to "reduce the country's debt" and renamed it the 'Taco Liberty Bell'. Thousands of people protested before it was revealed at noon April 1 that the sale was a hoax. White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry responded that the federal government was also 'selling the Lincoln Memorial to Ford Motor Co. and renaming it the Lincoln-Mercury Memorial.'"

While the marketers thought it was a perfect ploy for visibility, others were outraged. The stunt resulted in indignant calls to both Taco Bell and the National Park Service. As a result, it also ended up with the Taco Bell pranksters donating $50,000 to the National Park Service to help preserve the real Liberty Bell. The donation took place after a series of heated phone calls by the Director of the NPS, and others, to the corporate pranksters. The marketers believed that the purchase of a full page ad was more than worth the price in the resulting buzz.

The LA Times noted on April 2, 1996:

"Whenever you do this sort of thing, there's always the danger that someone's going to be offended," said William A. Cohen, a marketing professor at Cal State L.A. "For those of us who live 3,000 miles away from the Liberty Bell, it might be just fine, but to someone whose ancestors fought at Bunker Hill, it might be perceived of in an entirely different fashion."

So the lesson is: Don't mess with Texas. But don't April Fool with the National Parks.

Fine satire tends to enrage people when it treads close to the truth.

"Humor is the good natured side of a truth."

"Humor must not professedly teach, and it must not professedly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever."

Samuel Clemens was a wise man indeed. He also has many other words describing some of the sour pusses above but I will refrain.

The thing with satire is that it's usually done by someone that's separated from the real life pain. That's the part that enrages. From the enforcers that are doing their jobs (they have jobs) directed by those detached from the grounding reality. All, except those being effected are secure in their positions and for the most part detached and can't relate. That is the roll the Gov't plays in so much of this. Anyone been aware of the discussion about "Big/ Small government and which is better?

From my perspective the economic hardships created by the Consent Decree that was issued by a Federal Judge that all the parties agreed to is overstated, visit the Food Lion on Hatteras Island in the summer, it is packed with people.

I am not condoning the consent decree. There are businesses that have been negatively affected by the temporary bird closures that restrict access to Cape Point in the spring and early summer that have valid issues. The real estate fiasco probably has a much greater impact than the temporary resource closures on the overall local economy.

It is curious that so many people are concerned about economic hardships that have no economic interest in the Outer Banks. I believe their real concern is ORV access in the National Park and use economic issues as a way to further their personal agenda.

The NPS ORV policy of the past “Free and Open Access” (which is code for no ORV restrictions or ORV access fees) is not appropriate now and has not been appropriate for 30 or more years in the National Seashore. A modern ORV plan is long overdue for this park. Cape Hatteras National Seashore might have recreational area attached to its official name but NPS considers it as one of the NP’s ten National Seashore, not some hybrid national ORV recreation area. That dog will not hunt.

CHNS is still a great place to visit in the spring and summer. If you visit it will be crowded but you will have wonderful beach adventures coupled with dramatic historical experiences in the Seashore.

seriously SS! that is your perspective and you are against ORV's on the beaches. Good job on the freedom of speech usage.

“Free and Open Access” is also for pedestrians. We are also being closed out of the park.

"CHNS is still a great
place to visit in the spring and summer. If you visit it will be crowded
but you will have wonderful beach adventures coupled with dramatic historical experiences
in the Seashore."

You are correct with the limited beaches open it will be more and more crowded and pretty soon the open beaches will reflect that of Virginia beach with towels after towels and people being forced to trample on another to get a spot. Please though come and enjoy the experience of taking photos next to signs and string surrounding miles upon miles of closed beaches.

I pray that one day that enviros will realize that the southern shores is a better place for plovers to nest and they do as was done in peaisland and create a false environment. I really hope they do this in front of the houses to allow a species to thrive in a once forbidding area.

Does this level of protection cuase alarm to anyone that maybe by preventing these birds from living in a natural environment with predetors (local or not). What happens when they leave the confines of the Cape Hatteras bird sancturary? Are the enviros that insisted on this level of protection here doing the same all along the routes of travel? This reminds me of the debate on whether or not to raise these birds in captivity?


I’m not against ORV use in the Park. I’m just against ORV use most everywhere in the Park with the exception of a few token reservations for the non-ORV accessing visitor.

I’m probably more offended by the symbolic fencing (line and strings) than you. You and the “Free and Open Access” people are more offended by ORV restrictions than pedestrian restrictions just count the “Free and Open” bummer stickers on ORVs compared to street vehicles if you don’t want to admit it.

Who says I don’t think better access could be provided and still protect the resource.

As far as Southern Shores and NPS property goes National Park property is always held to a higher standard than state property when it pertains to the environmental concerns. I guess you will shoot the messenger for that one too.