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Cape Hatteras, Where The 'National Seashore' Concept Was Born

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Climbing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse offers panoramic views of the Outer Banks/Kurt Repanshek

Sun, salt spray, and sand are the main ingredients for a traditional Outer Banks vacation. Here on the North Carolina coast, where barrier islands bare the brunt of the Atlantic Ocean, families have been coming for decades to enjoy not only those aspects of summer but some of the best fishing along the Atlantic coast. The experience is so good that the National Seashore concept was born right here in 1937 when Congress authorized Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Stretching more than 70 miles from Nags Head south to Ocracoke Inlet, the seashore draws those interested in history (during World War II the waters off the national seashore were thick with German U-boats that time and again targeted, and sank, unprotected merchant ships), surfcasting (fishing is particularly good in the fall when drum and bluefish are running), or simply flying a kite and enjoying the surf.

Towns that dot the seashore'” Nags Head, Rodanthe, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras Village, and Ocracoke'”are all popular destinations. So picturesque and romantic is Rodanthe that it was the backdrop for a 2008 movie starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane, Nights in Rodanthe. But the other towns are steeped in that seaside charm, too.

Visitors have a rich variety of activities to choose from: bird watching here along the Atlantic Flyway, shell hunting (winter and fall offer some of the best finds), fishing, of course, and solitude for early risers, late evening strollers, or simply walkers heading up or down the beach away from any crowds.

Campers have four campgrounds to consider'”at Oregon Inlet, Frisco, Ocracoke, and Cape Point'”and lighthouse lovers have three to admire'” Ocracoke Light, Bodie Island Light, and Cape Hatteras Light (though access is only permitted to the last two).

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Surf fishing is one of the top draws to Cape Hatteras National Seashore/NPS

History fans will find the restored Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station of interest. Crews from that station gained fame in 1918 when they braved burning waters to save 42 from the Mirlo, a gasoline-carrying British steamship that hit a mine planted by a German U-boat. The explosion ignited a layer of gasoline atop the ocean waters. According to historical accounts, the men rowed their surfboat through a 'œhellish environment that blistered paint on their boat, burned their skin, and singed their hair and clothing...'

If You Go

Plan far ahead to make lodging reservations, as Cape Hatteras has a deep and loyal following of vacationers. Spring and fall are the best times to fish; by the middle of summer fishing is best offshore. Winter fishing can be productive, but the weather is harsh and sometimes dangerous.

Winds that sweep across Pamlico Sound on the back side of the barrier islands produce excellent windsurfing and kite boarding. Many windsurfers and kite boarders use the Salvo Day Use and Haulover day use areas on Hatteras Island.

Ocracoke Inlet was the favorite anchorage of the notorious pirate Blackbeard (Edward Teach). Blackbeard was finally killed in a battle near there on November 22, 1718. His decapitated body was thrown overboard into the inlet.

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The full name of the “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area” is historically accurate and serves to remind us today of the unique recreational heritage of the first national seashore. The founding pioneers called it by this name at the official dedication ceremony. Preserving this name will help future generations understand the history, tradition and recreational purpose of the “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.” 


Tell you what, Beach, you can stick with that name if you agree that the enabling legislation also specifically stated that, "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 . . .


More spinning by Beachdumb. He knows the original name and intent was Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The original name and the name everyone but ORVers use today, The Act was amended and the "And Recreational Area"  was added to allow waterfowl hunting in the Park. At that time the only legal way to allow hunting (migratory waterfowl only) was if it was a recreation area hensforth the addition.

 


Sec. 4. 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… 

Kurt, I am not the one trying to change name or hide the inconvient parts of the enabling legislation.


"Certain portions of the area."

So, Beach, then you'd be OK if those "certain portions" were the areas directly in front of the towns, and most of the rest was finally set aside as wilderness, something the enabling legislation called for? And if not, what areas would you approve for wilderness legislation?


My interpretation is that certain forms of recreation that would be specific to a seashore would be developed/ approved, unless. The rest of the EL doesn't equicocate, "no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors" etc. Beachdumb how could this not be any clearer or more straight forward?


I have hard time grasping that human access via foot, horse or ORV significantly modifies an area or invalidates 'primitive wilderness'. 

Is not the creation of new ramps, boardwalks and parking lots the development of the project plan for the conveniece of visitors?

 


"which would be incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna or the physiographic conditions now prevailing in this area…"

 


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