At Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Birds, Turtles, And Humans Have Created An Air of Controversy

Cape Hatteras is a thin, fragile landscape often at the mercy of the weather. It's a tenuous setting for both humans and wildlife, more so when the two are crowded together. The piping plover, a threatened species, has drawn the ire of more than a few locals who would like to see it gone. Aerial of Cape Hatteras via NASA, bottom photo of bumper sticker by Bob Mishak.

Editor's note: Cape Hatteras National Seashore is one of the jewels not only of the Atlantic Seaboard, but also of the National Park System. Its wide, sparkling beaches are popular with visitors of all kinds -- humans, birds, and reptiles included -- and that creates problems at times when some of the wildlife are protected by the Endangered Species Act. In a two-part series, the Traveler looks at the differing viewpoints, the resulting friction, and the tough spot the National Park Service has found itself in in trying to manage the seashore for both humans and wildlife. To help gain an understanding of how the conflict arose, in part one we lay out the landscape, both geologically and as wildlife habitat.

Barrier islands are tricky things -- if you want to build something and have it stay intact, that is -- as they're constantly in motion. Unlike the Rocky Mountains and the colorful Southwest -- landscapes where you can tick off geologic epochs, from the Paleocene through the Miocene and Pliocene to the Holocene, while staring at a 1,000-foot-tall butte or cliff -- barrier islands are ground-up, endlessly tumbled, spit out geologic remains.

In the case of capes Hatteras and Lookout in North Carolina, the sands are eroded bits of the Appalachian Mountains constantly being shipped downstream by rivers and deposited in the Atlantic, where surging longshore currents constantly rearrange them. Hurricanes accentuate these effects, shuttling veritable boatloads of sand downstream, shoving around entire barrier islands such as those that comprise Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout national seashores, and even tearing islands in half.

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The beauty of the beaches at Cape Hatteras make it a popular destination. NPS photo.

As Robert Lillie described this action in his book, Parks and Plates, The Geology of our National Parks, Monuments, and Seashores, “National seashores are places where we can see geologic changes in our own lifetimes -- and observe, as Rachel Carson so vividly revealed -- ‘Earth becoming fluid as the sea itself.’”

Though moveable, barrier islands abound with life. Live oaks twisted and stunted by salt spray and winds into gigantic bonsais serve as perches for white ibis and other birds. Long-needled -- and towering -- loblolly pine, blackgums, and even black cherry trees also can be found in the patches of maritime forests. Dunes that endure pounding surf, salt spray, and gusting wind sprout sea oats and saltmeadow cordgrass that are among the plants that try to hold the sand in place. Gulls, terns, egrets, herons, crabs, and sea turtles, as well as raccoons and even feral cats, are among the wildlife found here.

And, of course, there are people, both weekenders and life-timers.

This incredible landscape is the backdrop to a story that has divided neighbors, angered businesses against the National Park Service and environmental groups, and pitted beach-goers against birds and other species losing habitat to conflicts between the very nature of barrier islands and human development. It’s one that also has drawn into question the very purpose of the national seashores and the mission of the National Park Service.

Human Efforts To Tame Nature

While highly desirable as places to live and enjoy the outdoors, the barrier islands offer something of a false promise for those who want to send down their own roots because of the islands' lack of long-term stability. More than a few beach-front houses have been toppled by hurricanes and the ever-constant erosion caused by the Atlantic.

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Historical photos show vehicles weren't always a mainstay on Cape Hatteras beaches. NPS photo.

At Cape Hatteras, engineers answering cries for more developed areas long have tried to outmaneuver shifting sands with "hundreds of miles of sand fences," native grasses, and other vegetation.

Back in the 1950s -- nearly two decades after the idea of a Cape Hatteras National Seashore was OKed by North Carolinians and Interior Department officials and just about the time it was to be officially dedicated -- North Carolina officials strongly pushed efforts to pave a road on Ocracoke Island as well as one on Hatteras Island. Park Service officials, who up until then had wanted tight restrictions on "operating motor vehicles off roadways or on beaches except for specific purposes within well-defined areas," relented a bit in 1956 and came up with $100,000 for "long-range efforts to rebuild and stabilize the national seashore's protective dunes."

Those efforts made it possible for Highway 12, a paved two-lane highway that today shuttles you the length of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. But they also required constant vigilance by road crews to hold the islands in place and the Atlantic Ocean at bay.

But what engineers, managers, and politicians seemed to overlook, underestimate, or ignore was the relentless, unflinching, powerful Atlantic Ocean. Hurricanes in 1958 and 1962 demonstrated that fact of nautical life, shredding highways and ripping out sand fences as if they were architectural models. Hurricane Helene in 1958 not only tore up roads but also destroyed "75 percent of the dune-stabilization work completed on Ocracoke Island,” notes the seashore’s administrative history, The Creation and Establishment of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

"Hurricane Donna, which struck on September 11, 1960, was even worse,” the history continues. “One of the five strongest storms on record, Donna hit the Outer Banks with winds up to 123 miles per hour, causing extensive damage to the dune system on Ocracoke Island and scattered damage to dunes, buildings, roads, walks and vegetation throughout the park.”

The Park Service in 1966 brought more than $1 million ($1.4 million was budgeted from 1956-1966 to be spent on stabilization work and erosion control), and bulldozers to the task. But neither proved effective over the long term, as the seashore’s history notes:

Regardless of the method ... neither fences nor bulldozed dunes would stop the westward movement of the dunes, although that fact was not yet universally accepted as inevitable. On January 26, 1957, Governor Hodges dramatically asserted that the Outer Banks were slowly receding 'due in part to the action of the winds and ocean currents and to the destruction of the dunes and vegetation by man.' Unless every effort is made, declared Hodges, 'to rehabilitate, stabilize and protect the Outer Banks, huge expenditures will be required in the future to provide protective work for the mainland after the Outer Banks are gone.

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Hurricane Isabel in 2003 blew a hole through Hatteras Island as these before and after photos shot. NOAA photos.

Nearly 50 years later a solution to the Atlantic and its hurricanes remained to be found. In 2003, Hurricane Isabel, a Category 2 storm, cleaved Hatteras Island in two as the overwash from the storm surge created a new inlet from sea to sound just below Frisco and Hatteras.

The cut was filled in, but how long before another storm reopens it or another new inlet elsewhere on the Outer Banks?

Species Caught In A Bind

An ongoing problem on Cape Hatteras that results from the constant bulldozing of sand back into place is that wildlife habitat is lost to the pounding sea. The outcome is that human visitors, birds, and turtles are squeezed into the same shrinking places on the beach. And that has not always gone well.

When I reached the cape in late June I was greeted by thin ropes, festooned here and there with fluttering red tape and held up by posts that ring some of the dunes and beaches at the national seashore. They were not there as early Christmas bunting or decorations for a seaside cotillion. Rather, they warn you to keep your distance.

This signage might not be the warmest Outer Banks welcome from the Park Service, but it's there for a reason, one that rankles some of the locals; specifically those who fish the surf. I was reminded of the anger over those roped boundaries as I began to photograph surfcasters with their rigs lined up near the surf line.

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Red tape festoons exclosures for sea turtles and shorebirds. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Standing on the glistening beach, focusing on the trucks, I was verbally chastened by one man who shouted, "Be sure to get the signs in the photo!"

His point, of course, was to note where he could, and could not, drive his pickup truck. To the casual observer, though, the section of beach he was on, and the section he could not enter, were identical: Both were wide, firm stretches of tawny sand being lapped by the mid-morning surf.

Still, the difference in the beach might as well have been the difference between night and day to the determined surfcaster, the one who heads to the Outer Banks for some of the best fishing on the East Coast, not simply to watch the waves come ashore. Not too far behind me, and behind the do-not-enter signs, was Cape Point, the elbow's crook, if you will, of Hatteras Island, the point that juts farthest to the southeast into the Atlantic.

Here the south-running Labrador Current meets the northern-bound Gulf Stream, creating a swirling, salty convergence of water that not only shapes the dangerous Diamond Shoals that long have menaced sailers but also brings to the surfcaster's hooks a potpourri of Neptune's delights: bluefish and croakers, Spanish mackerel and flounder, and, perhaps most cherished by the locals, Red drum.

Proof of the hearty catch from Cape Hatteras litters the record books. Back in 1972 James Hussey landed a 31-pound, 12-ounce bluefish from a Cape Hatteras beach, a whopper still recognized as a world all-tackle record. A dozen years later David Deuel caught a 94-pound, 2-ounce red drum, a monstrous catch that still ranks as a world all-tackle record, from a Hatteras Island beach. And in 1987 Robert Cranton landed a 13-pound Spanish mackerel from Oregon Inlet; yes, it too is a world record.

Many other North Carolina state records were written from along the national seashore, as well as from its younger sibling, Cape Lookout National Seashore.

To more than a few, getting to these beaches to wet a line requires an ORV -- off-road vehicle. Though some might envision ORVs as pickups tricked out with over-sized tires, jacked up chassises, and massive grills that blast across the landscape, to most that’s not the sort of ORVing associated with Cape Hatteras.

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Surfcasters prefer to reach the beach with trucks. This photo was taken a week before the Fourth of July weekend, when traffic was expected to be much heavier. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Here ORVs are used primarily as transportation to get from Point A to Point B. Facing long stretches of beach that separate access points and favorite fishing points, and armed with lots of gear (multiple fishing poles, tackle, lunch and snacks, beverages, umbrellas, beach chairs) for a day on the beach, many surfcasters rely on their four-wheel drive trucks to travel from pavement and down the beach.

While surfcasters use whip-like tosses to cast their bait beyond the breakers, those breakers can work against the surfcasters, and even beachcombers, by turning some stretches of the seashore’s beaches into perfect habitat for piping plovers.

Plovers are small birds that have been listed as a threatened species since January 10, 1986, birds that skitter, nervously it appears, back and forth across the beach looking for a morsel or two to eat. Just about 6.5 inches from beak to tail tip and tipping the scales at only a couple ounces, piping plovers are bland in plumage, with whites, grays and buffs contrasted only by a black band of feathers circling their necks.

Also attracted by these beaches are trunk-sized loggerhead sea turtles, females of which come ashore here to lay their Ping-pong-ball-sized eggs. These turtles (which can reach 200 pounds at maturity) also are considered to be threatened under the Endangered Species Act, a listing brought about by human encroachment, predation by native and non-native predators, "disorientation of hatchlings by beachfront lighting," and a host of other problems, ranging from marine pollution to boat strikes, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

And then there are other species, “species of concern” in North Carolina, such as the American oystercatcher and the least tern, and even seabeach amaranth, a plant. All are species the Park Service must manage with hopes of increasing their numbers (though the amaranth hasn’t been found on the seashore in recent years).

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Piping plover eggs can be hard to spot on the beach. NPS report.

Where these species are found on the seashore, the Park Service is mandated by the Endangered Species Act and its own regulations to do its best to not only preserve the species but encourage population growth. And those mandates have led to seasonal closures of vast stretches of beach, closures that have some who live and play at Cape Hatteras up in arms.

Perhaps the resulting friction that exists between the surfcasters and the Park Service over how to manage these species would have been resolved long ago, and long before reliance on ORVs to access various points of the seashore became so popular, had the Park Service held true to the seashore's enacting legislation or followed President Richard Nixon’s 1972 executive order to create an off-road management plan.

That the agency stood idly by while ORV traffic grew substantially on the seashore, so much so that piping plovers, loggerhead turtles, and seabeach amaranth were being impacted, was the argument behind a lawsuit two conservation groups brought in 2007 to force the Park Service to develop an ORV management plan.

That lawsuit spawned a cataclysmic collision between those who rely on ORVs to reach favored spots, land managers who by law must help these species, and Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society, which brought the lawsuit through Southern Environmental Law Center.

The confluence of these species -- surfcasters, beach roamers, shorebirds, turtles and plants -- has cast a controversial regulatory net far and wide. It has upended the beach-driving landscape at Cape Hatteras by shutting off various beaches various lengths of time, including throughout the peak of the summer for some. While an interim plan has been governing ORV and pedestrian access since 2008, a permanent plan is set to take effect next year, barring a lawsuit.

The goal is to offer as much protection as possible for piping plovers, which lay their three or four sand-colored eggs out in the open, among the seashells, from any and all predators as well as passersby who walk on two feet or ride in trucks or beach buggies. To accomplish that, park rangers string red-tape-fluttering ropes to create 1,000-meter off-road vehicle buffer zones (300 meters for pedestrians) around nest sites when piping plover chicks are present.

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ORV bans don't always protect wildlife. This crushed female loggerhead turtle was discovered on an Ocracoke Beach in June 2010. NPS photo.

Another result of the interim plan is that both the number of plovers nesting on the beaches, and producing offspring, and the number of loggerhead turtles coming to scoop out their nests, has grown, in some cases substantially.

From just six pairs in 2006 the number of piping plovers coming to the seashore to nest has grown to 12 pairs in 2010. Not a large number, but significant nonetheless. From those dozen pairs in 2010, 15 chicks successfully fledged, a number roughly twice the average rate of the past 18 years.

The growth in breeding pairs and successful fledging is attributed by seashore officials to “(T)he monitoring efforts and management strategy formally changed in 2006 with the implementation of the (interim ORV plan) and then again in 2008 with the CD (consent decree).”

Sea turtle nesting, primarily from loggerhead turtles, has been much more spectacular in terms of numbers. While 76 nests were counted in 2006, in 2010 the total reached 153 nests, according to seashore records.

Tomorrow: In part two of this series, we look at some of the diverging viewpoints that have erupted over the seashore's wildlife.

Comments

We vactioned in Rodanthe around 1996 and it is still our favorite vacation and we have been to the Rockies,Yellowstone the Smokies and up and down the Gulf Beach's but the barrier Islands offer far more things to do then any other place we have been to!

what a fantastic place! heard from some former camp hosts there, that this is a very tough place to camp host. perhaps the park is understaffed? too common in our economy, but they were demanding way too much work and way too many hours for unpaid volunteers.

Kurt,
I am pleased to find this article on Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. I will refrain commenting, for the most part, until reading part 2.
I do hope it will contain a little elaboration concerning the photo of the turtle, as many may be inclined to assume that it was a civilian motorist that struck and killed this turtle. Also hope you will elaborate on the possible reasons for the numbers stated for various years as to bird and turtle nesting and hatch rates. As you know, it is quite complex and since most of the various restrictions and "supporting activities" performed by the National Park Service were implemented at about the same time, it is difficult to determine which of the restrictions and "supporting activities" is actually responsible for the numbers, if any at all.
Thanks,
Ron (obxguys)

Ron, as you're well-aware, this is indeed a complex topic, and easily could have taken more words than I've already written (@5000), but I'll try to ensure your points are covered.
That said, I am a bit curious about your comment that folks might "be inclined to assume that it was a civilian motorist that struck and killed this turtle." Seashore officials say they didn't have anyone out on the beach that night. If you have evidence pointing to the responsible party, we'd definitely be interested in hearing it.

Kurt, What you say is true. However, I would add that, I have no evidence as to who is responsible. I have not heard or seen anything indicating that NPS or anyone else has any evidence as to who is responsible. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. The beach was 'Closed'. I don't think this had happened in all the years it was open for night access. But that's another subject.
Since the photo is very graphic and was extensively distributed, with, I believe, intent to influence public opinion, I feel it important to point this out. Sorry if you disagree. If you were "on our side of the fence" you might feel it more significant. Guilt by association and lack of evidence to the contrary, does exist, particularly at this time at Cape Hatteras.
Respectfully,
Ron

Ron, as you know, I'm not on anyone's side of the fence.

Kurt,
I should not have said that the way I did. I was generalizing and should not have.
My Apologies,
Ron

Kurt
I regret that you chose the shortened version of the name CAPE HATTERAS NATIONAL SEASHORE RECREATIONAL AREA, not surprising since NPS has been trying to camoflage the reason that this land was set aside. Set aside to insure that all Americans would have access to ocean beaches and they would not be limited to a few wealthy individuals. As NPS further limits vehicle access to this park more and more young and old visitors are denided this access. You speak of the beauty of the convergence of the Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream @ Cape Point, How many of us & perhaps you, would be unable to see this natural wonder if not for vehicle access. How many fewer people would view Old Faithful if they had to walk a mile over hot sand? How many children will be denied access to the safest beaches; soundside @ Oregon Inlet, South Beach @ both Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island.
The issue is not surfcasters vs birds, the issue is the overly agressive actions to close beaches that have for generations welcomed both human visitors and visiting mammals.

Kurt,

Although we don’t have documented evidence (meaning we caught the perpetrator) that a vehicle ran over the turtle I am a 100% convinced that an ORV on the National Park Beach did accidentally run over a 200 lb turtle laying her eggs. I fully understand why ORV advocates would rather a graphic picture like that not get published.

Beach drivers also run over and kill people. The link will take you to a news article in Daytona Florida describing beach driving tragedies that recently occurred there.

http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/local/southeast-volusia/2011/05/26/holiday-a-peak-season-peek-for-engineers-analyzing-beach-traffic.html

This link will take you to a photo taken July 31, 2011 on a CHNS beach. IMO the same thing that happened in Daytona will eventually happen in CHNS.

http://eyeondare.blogspot.com/2011/07/make-any-sense.html

Kurt I’m probably jumping the gun but there are other very serious issues concerning ORV regulations besides resource protection.

And thanks a lot for your continued reporting on the ORV controversy in CHNS.


SS1

I wonder who in the world are the rich individuals that get exclusive NPS Seashore? My guess is, the visitor that retired to the Outer Banks and has an expensive ORV to access the National Seashore at their leisure.

Whenever "Recreational Area" is left out it becomes a nice diversion for ORV advocates (I’m guessing this is the Jim Keene who was the past president of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association) getting all-defensive about. The, “And Recreational Area” that was added to allow waterfowl hunting in the Park was not a carte blanche check for ORV access. Nowhere in the enabling legislation was ORV use even mentioned much less guaranteed. No one but the ORV advocates refers to the Park as Cape Hatteras National Seashore And Recreation area. They know all this, just makes for a good sound bite.

Actually the inlets and ocean beach can all be quite rough and dangerous not just for small children but all but the most experienced ocean swimmers. A much safer place for children to swim would be one of the 3 sound side access areas on Pamilico Sound, no rip currents or big seas just calm sallow water.

How in the world did the visitors access the Seashore in the 50’s, 60”s and 70’s when only a select few had ORVs?

Hey, SS1
I have a few issues with you.
You took me to task. That's fine.
1) I do not think an ORV runs over anything. So lets say it like it is. Someone driving an ORV appears to have run over a turtle. Wether the turtle was laying eggs or just expelled the eggs due to contact is, to me, questionable. Maybe you know for sure. You are further convinced that an ORV accidentally ran over her while laying her eggs. Just how is it that you know it occurred accidentally. I am sure you will agree that there are those that might be inclined to destroy one of these creatures on purpose to make a statement. I suggest,Sir, that it is possible that someone from either side of the issues could have possibly done this. But, let's be decent and hope it was an accident. You state that you understand why ORV advocates would rather a graphic picture like that not get published. You apparently don't have a clue. You must have paid little attention to the discourse between Mr. Repanshek and myself or maybe you just didn't understand it. A picture like that, as disturbing as it is, requires a complete statement of it's origin and what is known about how it occurred and who is responsible. Otherwise you leave much to the imagination of the people. The people to which the picture is presented, for what ever reason it might be presented. Get my drift ? Also, I must refer to a statement by Mr. Repanshek to the effect that Seashore Officials did not have anyone out on the beach that night. Now please understand, I am certainly not inferring that anyone associated with any national, state or local agency had anything to do with the destroying of that turtle. That would be plain stupid. But, if all Seashore officials can know where all their employees are every night, all night long, well I'm impressed and all I can say is, nights at the OBX ain't like they used to be.
Will stop this one here,
Ron

I am not from the island but i do live here. my friends family has lived here for generations and his grandmother was in the room when the national park service said they would never deny access to the islands beaches. they are doing that now. it is about ORV's but it isn't, the beach restirictions are for people also. one day i can got to my favorite place on the island and then come april its blocked off for 1000 yards. you have forgotten to mention that the locals only way on or off the island was by driving there cars on the beach to oregon inlet. i was always taught as a journalist to never let anyone now what side your on. you have failed in this attempt and your blatant misrepresentation of all of the facts makes your argument void. unfortunately the masses follow and repeat this crap like its gospel when it is not. thank you for trying to destroy my families right to try to live on a cool little island.

Now Mr. SS1
About your reference to New Smyrna Beach. I have a brother-in law and sister-in law that my wife and I have spent many memorable moments with on that beach. They are transplants from KDH where he was affectionately known as the Mayor of his street. He lives a couple of blocks from the ocean. He loves that beach. It is a terrific beach full of wonderful people. You couldn't ask for better. He is currently undergoing treatments for a very serious condition. I don't know if he could enjoy some time on that beach if he and his wife couldn't drive their ORV down on the beach. The town and all the folks down there do a great job of running things down there and I don't think they have needed a judge to tell them how to do it. All I can think of right now is that people like you would deny him the enjoyment of a little time on that beach, in a heartbeat. And I did notice that a group of lawyers had an advertisement all over that article.
That's it for this one,
Ron

@SS1

Actually the inlets and ocean beach can all be quite rough and dangerous not just for small children but all but the most experienced ocean swimmers.

By this "logic", no one should take their family on vacation anywhere on the Atlantic Seaboard.

A much safer place for children to swim would be one of the 3 sound side access areas on Pamilico Sound, no rip currents or big seas just calm sallow water.

70+ Miles of seashore and a whole 3 points of egress, soundside only? Glad you're not in charge.....

Ok, SS1. this is the last one.
EYE ON DARE, July 31st
What a picture. Lots of people. Lots of vehicles. Why do you suppose they are even there?
Could it be they are having fun? Heaven Forbid. Maybe they just want to get their picture in the paper. I am looking for those redneck hoodlums. Which ones are they. Man they are a bad looking bunch. Probably exactly what some folks were saying about me and my friends bout fifty some odd years ago. Yep they are deffinately trouble makers. They don't need to be on that beach like that. You would think they would get the message since we made them bunch all up like that. How can they stand being that close to each other.
I got news for you. THEY LOVE IT. Anyone that doesn't understand what that is all about must have missed out on alot. And about getting stuck ? Well, many will do it once, some more than once. Some must even like it. We just need to let them know that it probably won't be allowed in the future and they will have to stop doing it. Whatever. We can work it out. Unless someone that just doesn't understand actually stops us. Oh, and they could use all the room you can give them. There's a lot of them.
And, your last comment, what was that all about. Totally lost me.
Ron (obxguys)

"How in the world did the visitors access the Seashore in the 50’s, 60”s and 70’s when only a select few had ORVs?"
They Drove their cars please use google and search and you shall find many images of this.
As far as pictures showing large groups on the seashore enjoying their time their... GOOD. I can show you more pictures of other national parks where they have paved over and built boardwalks around every little thing considered worth seeing. I bet when all the visitors leave Yellowstone the pavement and boardwalks do not just dissappear do they? In Cape Hatteras on average it takes less than one day to erase all evidence that ORV's were even there. So how is it that it becoame controversial because thousands of people want to recreate at a national park in Cape Hatteras and yet in Yellowstone we permanently paved it. I am sure there are many precious creatures that would love to occupy those miles and miles of paved areas in Yellowstone, and some are probably even endangered. Given the same arguement that is used in Cape Hatteras I could close down Yellowstone as well as these areas that are paved and boarded up could house endangered species. That my friends is the basis of this arguement that Cape Hatteras can possibly accommodate a particular species. Could not the same be said for all NPS areas?

Ron it wasn’t my intention to take you to task before.

Even though I usually have a different opinion than you about ORV management at came Hatteras I’m miffed by your latest posts.

You said, “Someone driving an ORV appears to have run over a turtle.”

I believe the NPS rangers that documented the turtle accident. Their press release leads me to believe, 100%, that a vehicle ran over that turtle. I can’t envision anyone purposely risking damaging their vehicle by purposely running over something that big. I can’t imagine anyone that so despises turtles that they would purposely run over them. My guess is that the operators of the vehicle knew they were in a closed area, were driving without their lights on and didn’t see the turtle. Of course the picture is disturbing and damaging to your cause but it is news to the rest of us. Kurt told you exactly in the caption where and who took the picture and he said. “ORV bans don't always protect wildlife.” It is a fact that there was an ORV driving ban on that beach and it did not protect that turtle. The turtle incident was a bad break for the ORV access side but it is not something that should be swept under the rug.

If you don’t think there are potentially threatening encounters between pedestrians and ORVs in CHNS and don’t see the relevance between ORV fatalities on the Daytona beach and the dead turtle on Ocracoke that I believe was killed by a vehicle we will have to agree to disagree. Sorry about your brother in law. I have no interest in discussing ORV management in Daytona. I only posted the link to validate the fact that vehicles on the beach can and do kill pedestrians.

I posted The Eye On Dare Link to give other readers a first hand look at current conditions one can find at CHNS and to show other readers that it is not just environmentalist that have some reservations about ORV use in the Seashore. I would agree with your statement about ORV users, “There's a lot of them. 
”, And I would agree that they (ORV users) are having fun and am glad they are. I guess where we would disagree is the carrying capacity for ORVs in the Seashore, specifically how much, where and when the Seashore’s beaches should be designated for ORV use.

SS1
My point: If I hit you with a baseball bat and kill you, Did the baseball bat kill you ? We are talking about the actions of people here. The instrument should not be the issue.
There are many turtles killed by various people under various circumstances. I believe this was the first involving an orv at Cape Hatteras. If you want to start making comparisons between Hatteras and other places you will surely open up a vast can of worms. This is one of the fallacies with the science being used at Cape Hatteras.
In your comments you use the terms "I believe", "I can't invision", "I can't imagine", "My guess is" when referring to the turtle incident. There is really a lot that we don't know for sure about what and why this incident occured, much less, who did it. Yes, it certainly does not help our cause. I have no problem with the picture being published. The OBPA posted a reward for information leading to the arrest of the responsible party. I GUESS you take that as trying to sweep it under the rug. I think yyou totally missed my point. I try not to judge without adequate facts but, there are many that do. Thats all I have to say on this item.
As to the crowded beach, increasing closures will really help that, won't it. But that's going to be our problem, not yours. Just tell some of the people to go somewhere else. I guess. So much for the neatest place in the world.
Ron (obxguys)

Ron,

Ok if nesting a sea turtle is bludgeon to death on CHNS beaches with a baseball bat then we will have a different problem. Right now the problem was a turtle was run over by a vehicle and killed on the Park beach. I am not going to argue over what I believe happened, you’re entitled to your opinion. I think impartial observers would agree that the turtle got run over and killed by a motor vehicle.

I did not say I thought the OBPA (local ORV access organization) was trying to sweep the turtle fatality under the rug but I do think posting a reward was an excellent PR move on their part. Maybe I’m mistaken but I took your previous posts to imply that you thought the turtle picture should not have been included in Kurt’s article. If what I thought you said was not what you meant to imply I apologize.

Actually, I believe the Park would be better able to accommodate more visitors by a more restrictive ORV policy than what is currently proposed. Vehicles on the beach take up a lot more space than pedestrians. I would not dream of telling anyone to go somewhere else but I have heard plenty of ORV advocate insinuate that to other visitors (the Audubon sticker being a perfect example). The ORV organizations' insistence of opening the maximum amount of beach for ORVs access will negate many visitors' wilderness experience (mine for one) in a park that was specifically intended by congress to be just that and it will put more people at risk of being struck by an ORV on the Seashore beach.

It is a fact that since the Park was opened: 1. There has been a vast increase of visitors to the seashore (both ORV and pedestrian) 2. The ocean beach has eroded to a much smaller width. I have drawn my own conclusion to the potential consequence of those facts and assume yours are different.

SS1

"Maybe I’m mistaken but I took your previous posts to imply that you
thought the turtle picture should not have been included in Kurt’s
article."
I think this article should not have contained this picture...unless you specifically state that it could have been any group including the NPS or the turtle patrol who did this. I know Kurt stated the NPS said they did not do it, but would they admit it if they did do it?
It just fans the flames and indirectly points fingers. If you do show this picture then show a copy of the bill of sale for the audobahns properties they were supposed to protect or even the lease paper work for the drilling rights they allowed on property they were supposed to preserve...If you fan the flames try not to be one sided.
"Vehicles on the beach take up a lot more space than pedestrians." agreed, but you hardly ever see anyone walk out to the same areas as the vehicles and it is not because there are vehicles there, but more likely because walking out a mile on Hot sand is not a common way of enjoyment.
" I would not dream of telling anyone to go somewhere else but I have
heard plenty of ORV advocate insinuate that to other visitors (the
Audubon sticker being a perfect example)."
You just did.
"Actually, I believe the Park would be better able to accommodate more visitors by a more
restrictive ORV policy than what is currently proposed."

SS1
I believe the problem between you and I is that you dwell on the fact that everything I say is simply to bolster the orv side of the equation. And sometimes that is the case. However, sometimes my intent is to question why things are omitted or why they are stated a certain way because I believe the result can be that someone will automatically assume something that is not necessarily so. Maybe I am wasting my time but, I believe there has been way to much of this already concerning Cape Hatteras. And you know what, it gets tiresome being on the side that just wants to enjoy the beach like we have for decades, while others want to restrict that. It would be like my saying I don't want someone watching birds next to me on the beach. Then someone says its because I want to drive on the beach and I don't need to. I remember thru the years seeing people drive on the beach to watch and photograph the birds. Now it is at a point that if you don't have a PHD in Biology or some other favorable title behind your name many will let you talk but really don't listen. It's just that simple. So yes, I try to get real technical sometimes to say what is being said may sound real good but just may not be so. Now I am going out on a limb. Mr. Murray said no nps personnel on the beach the night of the turtle incident. I would not call mr. Murray a lier. I further have to admit that I think probably someone other than nps personnel ran over that turtle. But if I was in front of a judge and was asked if I could assure the court that no nps personnel were on the beach that night, I believe I would have to say, no. As serious an issue as this is to so many people, I would probably say, to my knowledge, there were no nps personnel on the beach that night, but I can't really say for sure and we just don't know who is responsible.
You have the board now SS1. I have probably said too much and should shorten my list of favorites. Eleminate the temptation, only way to do it.
Ron (obxguys)

“SS1 
I believe the problem between you and I is that you dwell on the fact that everything I say is simply to bolster the orv side of the equation. And sometimes that is the case.”

Yes that is a problem. I question your comments when they pertain to ORV issues at Cape Hatteras basically for the same reason you state,

“the result can be that someone will automatically assume something that is not necessarily so”.

Case in point, when you state,“it gets tiresome being on the side that just wants to enjoy the beach like we have for decades”,

I’mconcerned that others will think that nothing has fundamentally changed in decades on Cape Hatteras. Today there are many more people visiting the Seashore than decades ago, a lot more homes and ORVs. For many of us park conditions have been steadily deteriorating for years. The Park was supposed to have addressed ORV managment 30 years ago when the problem was apparent then. ORV use is one of the things that the park can and should manage. ORV use can’t legally be managed the same way it was decades ago because of: subsequent legislation, resource matters, safety issues and visitor use conflicts. That is why the ORV management of CHNS will change, has to change. Shooting the messengers (or local Park mangers) won’t stop this change.

“Now it is at a point that if you don't have a PHD in Biology or some other favorable title behind your name many will let you talk but really don't listen. It's just that simple. So yes, I try to get real technical sometimes to say what is being said may sound real good but just may not be so.”

That no one will listen is a popular sentiment with ORV advocates in CHNS. However what I think the case is you and others expect your comment to form the basis for new management decision not that someone with a“favorable title behind your name” won’t listen to you.

The current Superintendent bent over backwards listening to your comments and has done everything in his power to accommodate as much recreational vehicular access as he legally can.

A considerable number of ad hominine attacks arise from the ORV advocates side. Homeowners adjacent to NPS property who have safety concern about ORVs are called elitist. One of the common sound bites concerning resource managers is, “It is not about the birds” in references to any closed areas or management practice that restricts someone’s fun. ORV advocates hold forth that scientists, field biologists, lawyers, environmentalist etc are either being dishonest with their information so they can instigate lawsuits for financial gain or they are some sort of curmudgeon whose goal is to keep people from having fun. That is not the way to get people to listen to you.I have spoken at length with both sides of this issue (environmental access and ORV access) and can state unequivocally no one from the environmental side has behaved towards me or said the inflammatory insults the ORV advocates have. Regrettably I think your analogy, “If I hit you with a baseball bat and kill you, Did the baseball bat kill you?” was more than just analogy on your part. I would have worded it different.

“Now I am going out on a limb. Mr. Murray said no nps personnel on the beach the night of the turtle incident. I would not call mr. Murray a liar. I further have to admit that I think probably someone other than nps personnel ran over that turtle. But if I was in front of a judge and was asked if I could assure the court that no nps personnel were on the beach that night, I believe I would have to say, no. As serious an issue as this is to so many people, I would probably say, to my knowledge, there were no nps personnel on the beach that night, but I can't really say for sure and we just don't know who is responsible.
”

You say you’re not calling the Superintendent a liar but if I was Mr. Murray that is exactly what I would think. He says his rangers were not on the beach that night, you say he does not know if they were or not. For the sake of argument lets say a NPS ranger did kill the turtle (by accident) that would still be a person driving a vehicle on the beach running over and killing a turtle, and my point would still be the same, the turtle could have easily been a person. Implying that an NPS official could have killed the turtle is a diversion from the real issue.