Thursday, August 2, 2012

When I was 10 my parents acquired an unfinished home in a nice neighborhood that bordered National Park Service Property that is part of the "Colonial National Historic Park" which encompasses the Yorktown battlefield and a narrow ribbon of road constructed in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps that leads to Jamestown/ Jamestown Island; sight of the first permanent English colony in North America. All of the above is managed by NPS though Jamestown Island, the site of the first capitol of Virginia, is actually owned by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities and merely managed by NPS with APVA oversight.

I wish it worked that way here. It should. After all, WE own this land, not the NPS.

I spent my early years teaching colonial history and performing with the Colonial Williamsburg (CW) Fife and Drum Corps. CW was, and remains independent of government control in spite of a strong NPS presence around and literally, for a few hundred yards at least, under the property owned by the Foundation.

Back then, NPS respected those of us that worked at CW and it worked the other way around as well. So when I started hearing the complaints about how NPS was dealing with CHNSRA and the visitors and residents, my first instinct was to ask why we couldn't work together. It would be an understatement to say that I got an ear full regarding that question But I was also enlightened. And as such, my journey into the issues about access and such began.

If you've read this blog from beginning to end, you'll have undoubtedly noticed that I don't have a penchant for pulling punches and I have no intention of doing so now.

NPS has gone from being a thoughtful and reasonable partner in the management of this Seashore to an unmanaged, money hungry, unfriendly and even openly hostile part our community.

I believe that this is in great part due to the actions, words, lack of knowledge, and attitude of one federal judge, Terrance W. Boyle. Every time he opens his mouth, it seems, NPS becomes more aggressive in their actions to eliminate access to our beaches. And according to those that I and others have spoken to, their treatment of visitors has become deplorable.

Instead of what at this point be considered (since we  have to pay for access) customer service, we get harassment. Unfortunately, I hear about this constantly.

Obviously this is at least in part, due to hostility NPS employees face at local businesses or locally in general but if you came to my place and set it on fire, burning it to the ground, it's not likely I'd be sending you a dinner invitation. And if you were to burn down my house and continue to harass me, I'd have something to say about it. Bob Eakes, owner of Red Drum Tackle had this to say the other day:!

Of course, there are also the most recent antics of hizzonner, King Boyle, who has repeatedly exhibited his lack of knowledge of the Seashore over the last few years. This time he managed to completely distort the reality of access and make analogies that boggle the mind. Stories of his recent antics can be found here:


The war for access is in full swing and we need all the help we can get. Please work to make a difference.

Tight Lines,


Wednesday, July 25, 2012


As a child I remember my mother telling me on more than one occasion, "you started it, now finish it." So I laugh these days as I become weary of the fight for access to the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. Mayhaps it's not the fight but the fighting that has worn me out.

I know I'm tired of hearing about how things should be done here from folks that have no clue as to what is happening on these islands. In many cases, this comes from folks that couldn't find Hatteras or Ocracoke on a map if it was right in front of their face; have no intention of visiting here, and could care less about those that do. Nor do they care about the fine people that populate this place.

I'm tired of hearing the outright lies and collection of misinformation spewed forth by Audubon, DOW, and SELC. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the National Park Service as well. The spin they toss out is just as bad, and smells worse than that put forth by the "darkside".

I'm tired of seeing miles of closures just as I'm tired of seeing dozens of vehicles parked along our highway that create a traffic hazard.

And though I may lose more friends because I say this, I'm tired of hearing people complain about access that aren't willing to lift a finger to help get it back.

So here's my message. I and many others care about access to these beaches as much as you do. Some of us have been working for years to set things right. It's not just about the economy, it's about your freedom to enjoy these beaches the way that was intended and promised by our federal government.

The reality is, we're working hard to put things right and we've come further than we ever have before. Now is not the time to condemn our actions but to support them.

Learn the facts, get involved.

So ends my rant.

On a positive note,  Senator Joe Manchin (D) WV is now a cosponsor of S. 2372 which if enacted, will restore reasonable access to the Seashore and do away with the consent decree and "final rule" established by NPS; The success of this legislation, of course depends on your participation in this process, This is the last step before it hits the floor of the Senate for a vote. So it's up to you.

If you need some things to fill your communication, as always I will recommend as Irene has done a wonderful job of keeping us informed. You may use my rants as well.

I do want to point out an excellent letter by the esteemed Dr. Mike Berry who in conversation feels much the same way as do I about the subject of access. This is, as far as I'm concerned, a "must read" relative to our issues. So with permission, I copy one of his "Meus Visum" blog entries.

Response to Senate Hearing Testimony Given by SELC and NPS on June 27, 2012

This responds to scientifically unfounded claims that were raised at the Hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks on June 27, 2012 with regard to the passage of S. 2372, which would reinstate the Interim Management Plan for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area (CHNSRA).
On June 27, 2012 the National Park Service (NPS) and the Southern Environmental Law Center testified in Senate Hearing that the “Consent Decree” that restricts public access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area is an environmental management success that has produced extraordinary numbers of birds and turtles since April 2008. That claim, constantly touted by NPS and SELC, has no basis in scientific method or evaluation or standard environmental management practice.
Following are nine (9) items to consider when evaluating resource management and related science in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area in relation to the well crafted “Interim Plan” promulgated in 2007 but set aside without any public comment or review in 2008 by the poorly crafted “Consent Decree”.
(1) The Interim Management Plan fully titled Interim Protected Species Management Strategy/Environmental Assessment was publically discussed at great length and reviewed under the NEPA provisions in 2006. It was signed into effect in July 2007 and published in the Federal Register.
As indicated at page 30 in the Finding of No Significant Impact Interim Management Strategy (See Attached) “There are no significant adverse impacts on public health, public safety, threatened or endangered species, sites or districts listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or other unique characteristics of the region. In addition, no highly uncertain or highly controversial impacts, unique or unknown risks, significant cumulative effects, or elements of precedence have been identified and implementing the selected alternative (modified preferred alternative – Alternative D (Access/Research Component Focus) with Elements of Alternative A) will not violate any federal, state, or local environmental protection law. There will be no impairment of park resources or values resulting from implementation of the selected alternative.”
The USFWS reviewed and concurred with the Interim Strategy and the Finding of No Significant Impact. In the Biological Opinion submitted to the NPS, August 14, 2006, USFWS states with regard to the Interim Plan,
“After reviewing the current status of the breeding population of the Atlantic Coast population of the piping plover, wintering population of the Atlantic Coast population of the piping plover, the wintering population of the Great Lakes population of the piping plover, the wintering population of the Great Plains population of the piping plover, seabeach amaranth, and loggerhead, green, leatherback, hawksbill, and kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the environmental baseline for the action area, the effects of the proposed action and the cumulative effects, it is the USFWS’s biological opinion that implementation of the Strategy, as proposed, is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of these species.” (See “Conclusion” at page 75 of USFWS Opinion)
The NPS rational for the management provisions of Interim Plan is indicated at page four in the Finding of No Significant Impact.
Based on the analysis presented in the strategy/EA, the NPS identified Alternative D – Access/Research Component Focus as the preferred alternative for implementation. The preferred alternative is described on pages 59–63 and in tables 1, 2, and 3 of the strategy/EA. However, after considering public comment on the strategy/EA; park field experience during the 2006 breeding season; the USFWS Amended Biological Opinion (2007) (attachment 1 to this FONSI); new research (“Effects of human recreation on the incubation behavior of American Oystercatchers” by McGowan C.P. and T.R. Simons, Wilson Journal of Ornithology 118(4): 485-293, 2006); and professional judgment, NPS has decided to implement a combination of Alternative D – Access/Research Component Focus and some elements of Alternative A– Continuation of 2004 Management that pertain to managing sensitive species that are not listed under the ESA (see tables 1, 2, and 3 of this document). The basic rationale for this choice is that alternative D, as modified by elements of alternative A, best provides for both protection of federally and non-federally listed species and for continued recreational use and access consistent with required management of protected species during the interim period, until a long-term ORV management plan/EIS/regulation is developed, approved, and implemented. The modified preferred alternative – Alternative D (Access/Research Component Focus) with Elements of Alternative A is incorporated into the strategy/EA by Errata (attachment 2 to this FONSI). All elements of the modified preferred alternative were fully assessed in the strategy/EA under alternative A or alternative D.”
As indicated in the Finding of No Significant Impact, the selected alternative proved for both public access to the seashore and resource protection based on professional judgment of NPS managers, and consistent with management suggestions of USGS.
The Interim Plan established “best professional judgment” closure areas that did not previously exist. (See Pages 34-40 Finding of No Significant Impact.)
(2) Prior to the implementation of the Interim Plan, there was concern voiced mainly by environmental activist organizations that species decline was occurring on the national seashore as the result of increased public access, mainly off road vehicles. For five consecutive years (2001-2006), published resource numbers were low compared to previous years and were often touted to indicate that species populations, particularly birds, were in decline due to anthropogenic causes. However, it is often not mentioned that during this same time period the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area experienced back-to-back storms that produced a significant distorting and transforming effect on the seashore ecosystem.
Due to the fact that the National Park Service, resource managers, and researchers had limited habitat specific research and monitoring data, the actual numbers of species, species behavior, and size of species populations at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area were unknown and often simply speculated in the form of “professional judgment”. It is important to recognize that “judgments” and “opinions” in the absence of data are not science.
USGS, the research arm of the Department of Interior, in the introduction to the document titled Synthesis of Management, Monitoring, and Protection Protocols for Threatened for Endangered Species and Species of Special Concern at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina made the following observation giving credence to the fact that the low bird counts published for a few years prior to 2007 were most likely not indicative of the actual condition of species.
“Over the past decade, management of these natural resources has been inconsistent at CAHA, partially due to the lack of effective and consistent monitoring of the location, reproductive activity, mortality factors, and winter habitat use of these species.”
Recognizing the lack of effective and consistent monitoring that existed prior to 2007, the Interim Plan established an enhanced and intensive resources monitoring program for birds and turtles that had not previously existed. Starting in 2007, NPS began seeking out, observing, and reporting birds at more heightened level than ever before. Since instituting the enhanced monitoring program in 2007, bird numbers have increased. (See Pages 34-40 in Finding of No Significant Impact.)
(3) In April 2008, environmental activists organizations sued to overturn the Interim Plan, claiming that the plan was not based on sound science and closure boundary distances prescribe by USGS. The Southern Environmental Law Center, the Audubon Society, and Defenders of Wildlife, sued the National Park Service and convinced a federal judge without any oral argument or expert testimony to issue a consent decree to convert the most popular and frequented sections of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area into mile after mile of “Bird Use Area” for a large part of the visitor season.
The public was given no opportunity to review or comment on the poorly crafted environmental management provisions of the consent decree. The provisions were slapped together in a period of about three weeks in April of 2008, behind closed doors, with no independent technical input and discussion.
Closure boundaries for four bird species (Piping Plover, Least Tern, Colonial Water Birds, American Oystercatcher), none of which are endangered, have prevented thousands of hard working, tax paying citizens and visitors from around the world from entering into large areas of the seashore. Thousands of visitors are channeled into now much overcrowded sections of the seashore, threatening to overrun the carrying capacity of those ecosystems.
The consequence of this non-public involved environmental decision is disastrous. As indicated in testimony this has had a devastating effect on the economy of Hatteras Island.
The access denying provisions of the consent decree provisions, which are unnecessarily restrictive and not based on objective science assessment, have been incorporated with additions into the final ORV management plan that the proposed legislation S. 2372 is designed to overturn.
(4) Environmental activists often referred to National Park Service annual resource reports in their self-promoting press releases, public testimony, and periodic presentations to the federal judge overseeing the consent decree. They use the reports to make claims that the public access restrictive resource closures of the consent decree, which they crafted and imposed without public review, are resulting in “highest ever” bird and turtle observations.
The annual resource reports have never been independently reviewed or verified for accuracy.
The National Park Service and the environmental activists groups are comparing numbers in these recent annual resource reports to questionable low bird count numbers published prior to 2007 that were not observed using the current level of intense and enhanced monitoring and measurement that has been in place since 2007. Such an “apples and oranges” comparison is in no way valid or useful in indicating statistical change.
In the absence of an enhanced monitoring program prior to 2007, it is plausible that various bird counts were not as depleted and low as claimed by environmental activists but that they were simply not being observed, counted, and reported as at the current intense monitoring level.
It is also plausible that any noted increase in bird counts since 2007 are due to a new enhanced program for seeking out, observing, and reporting birds rather than the creation of public access restrictive closures.
At no time in the past four years has any federal official demonstrated through independent audit or review, the validity of these reports or taken a hard look at environmental activists claims. None of the annual reports related to the consent decree for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 were ever peer reviewed or validated by competent independent science advisors in open public forum or openly discussed by interested parties.
The bird and turtle numbers that environmental activists lawyers refer to come from annual National Park Service reports that are not consistent with the Presidential Directive for Science Integrity, and Department of Interior and National Park Service policies for scientific transparency and review. The reports do not indicate an author or a federal scientist who takes responsibility for the validity of the data. The public does not know who – by name, affiliation, and technical qualifications – made the observations and recorded the data. The public has no knowledge of chain of custody or quality assurance of the data. The public does not know who specifically wrote the reports. The public cannot get at the facts and verify claims.
Resource documents indicate that previously in 2007, annual bird reports commissioned by the National Park Service were co-authored by Audubon Society members.
(5) There is no statistically significant environmental benefit indicated because of the restrictive access provisions of the Consent Decree or the Final ORV Plan.
Nowhere in any annual resource report of the past four years does National Park Service demonstrate or claim a cause and effect relationship between overly restrictive closures provided by the consent decree and bird and turtle production.
Environmental activists and the National Park Service cannot demonstrate or prove that wildlife production of birds and turtles was improved under the overly restrictive provisions of the consent decree any more than would have occurred had the provisions of the publically reviewed Interim ORV Plan been allowed to move forward for four years.
In recent court testimony, without qualification, the Seashore Superintendent said about birds and turtles, “the trend is up”. The statement is something the judge that issued a consent decree that has denied extensive public access to the national seashore wants to hear even though at each of the Status Conferences before the judge, the Seashore Superintendent has explained to the Court that it is in fact too early to ascribe a cause/effect relationship.
For turtles, production and sightings during the years of the consent decree are up all along the Atlantic Coast, not just the region governed by the consent decree. For birds, natural processes and variability alone can produce such a statistically insignificant one or two year “uptrend” for a very small number of birds in previous years. The production and survival trend for two bird species in the current 2012 breeding season appears to be down for this point in the season when compared to the past two years.
(6) Data collected and published by NPS in recent years in no way supports the claim by environmentalists that ORVs reduce the productivity of birds. In fact, the data suggests that the Interim Management Plan, prepared with public input and review in 2005 and published in the federal register, was showing every sign of being effective at protecting birds and natural resources.
Had best professional judgment been allowed, along with reasonable public access, for the last four years under the consent decree we would reasonably expect the same result in bird and turtle production we see today, if not better.
The Interim Management Plan was set aside by the court and replaced by the consent decree that mandated extensive closures. The closures of recent years have been of exorbitantly high cost to the public, but have not contributed to an improvement in species production or safety. The consent decree has produced no natural resource benefit over and above the Interim Plan. In fact, in the same year the consent was issued, the fledge counts were higher under the Interim Plan than under the consent decree. In a matter of weeks after the issuance of the consent decree, the NPS in Washington and environmental activists in Senate testimony disingenuously credited the restrictions of consent decree, which had hardly been implemented, for improved bird counts that were most probably the consequence of the Interim Plan and enhanced monitoring implementation.
Using the same data to which environmental activists and NPS often refer, 7 piping plovers fledged in 2008 under the Interim Plan, 6 in 2009 under the highly restrictive consent decree. 17 American oystercatchers fledged in 2008 under the Interim Plan and 13 in 2009 under the highly access restrictive consent decree, the same management structure now found in final ORV management plan.
(7) From a scientific viewpoint, “best professional judgment” closures are more effective and technically sound than closures imposed by the Consent Decree and Final ORV Regulation. Smaller closures limit the free movement of predators. They do not promote the food chain manipulation and transformation in the ecosystem to the same extent as the larger consent decree closures.
The huge closure distances in the consent decree and final plan restrictions keep pedestrians and ORVs off the seashore while birds are nesting. At the same time, the extensive closures also provide for the proliferation and increased free movement of predators. In effect, the extensive closures create an ecological trap for birds in that large closure areas enhance predation.
Data at page 10 of 2011 American Oystercatchers Report indicates that in 2008 under the Interim Plan, 22% of chicks were lost to predation. Under the consent decree boundary restrictions 58% were lost in 2009; 35% lost in 2010; and 42% lost in 2011. Since the extraordinarily large consent decree boundaries have come into play, the predation trend is “up”.
Food chain manipulation is one way to promote unnatural bird production. The technical provisions of the consent decree have been the basis for the selective trapping and killing of bird predators. Aggressive predator control during the years of the consent decree is altering the ecosystem significantly for the sole benefit of selected bird species.
(8) Over the past 40 years, federal agencies have adopted formal peer review policies to ensure they comply with the “Hard Look Doctrine”. Federal Courts expect agencies to take a “Hard Look” at the science and not be informal or sloppy in their treatment of fact. The National Park Service has failed to ensure a valid science basis to a regulation that restricts public access to the national seashore. An independent review to determine the validity of the so-called “scientific fact” never occurred during the consent decree proceedings of the past four years. As a result, the public lost access to the beaches of its national seashore. Such government inaction in responding to and collaborating with politically powerful special interests will only further public outrage and distrust of government.
Many of the references used to justify the final ORV management plan are those of individuals and activists organizations who have supported litigation that denies public access. The major science references are authored by environmental activist organizations and individuals trying to shut down ORV access to the national seashore: Audubon, Blue Water, Hatteras Island Bird Club, etc. Many of the references are outdated, biased, contain incomplete and misleading information, and few have ever been reviewed in open forum. The main science references are unsuitable and inappropriate as the basis for a government regulation that restricts public access to the national seashore and have significant negative impacts on the Outer Banks economy.
The so-called “USGS Protocols” continue to be touted as “best available science” in the development of the final ORV management plan for the Cape Hatteras Seashore Recreational Area.
The USGS Protocols were cited as being “in press” 5 years after they first appeared on the Park Service website. There was no date on the document, no responsible federal official identified, no government document number. The final publication was not accessible, publically reviewed, or fully explained by government authority at the time the DEIS was submitted to the public for comment.
In an introduction to the final release of the Protocols in March 2010, USGS states,
“Although no new original research or experimental work was conducted, this synthesis of the existing information was peer reviewed by over 15 experts with familiarity with these species. This report does not establish NPS management protocols but does highlight scientific information on the biology of these species to be considered by NPS managers who make resource management decisions at CAHA.”(
As indicated by USGS, the “Protocols” are really not hard and fast science based protocols but suggested considerations rendered by an ad hoc group. Such ad hoc suggestions can in no way be characterized as “best available science”.
The literature reviews found in the “USGS Protocols” as published in final are significantly out of date. Many citations are over 20 years old and most are not related to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. The public does not have access to the literature reviewed in this essential report and most of the citations are so insignificant they cannot even be found in major university libraries that have extensive environmental and natural resource publications such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The following speaks volumes as to the lack of formality and serious purpose of the “USGS Protocols” currently used as the excuse for beach closures.
  • There is no public file, docket, or documentation of peer review questions, comments, or author response.
  • There is no indication that the protocols were ever published in a peer reviewed journal or publication or ever referred to as what they are, management guidelines and opinions as opposed to in-depth science assessment.
  • Scientists having any kind of conflict of interest association, whether through membership, collegial associations, funding, or grants must disclose the relationship. Some authors and reviewers of the protocols were members and associates of organizations now using the protocols to restrict public access to the beaches of the national park, a fact never disclosed openly and not in compliance with USGS peer review policy.
As has been stated many times in public comment to the National Park Service, the best course of action to resolve the matter of valid science is to turn the science review and update over to the National Academy of Sciences or some other neutral party, to objectively, critically, and comprehensively review all relevant science, disclose the facts and restore some public trust in the scientific process used as the basis for environmental management decisions at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.
Most importantly, for the restrictive provisions of the final ORV management plan, there is no indication that NPS ever plans to revisit the USGS Protocols and the science basis for closure boundaries.
The NPS fails to take hard look at the science that might contradict its current justification for denial of public access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.
Note: The USGS boundary distances and written submission to NPS as so called “Protocols” does meet the standard of scientific evidence as determine by the “Daubert Standard”, often used by federal courts to determine the validity of science.
(9) Nowhere is a specific science basis, study or data, ever presented, or published for a given bird management option, established solely for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.
Closure boundaries are overly restrictive at CHNSRA and are not used at other NPS properties. There has been no administrative or science based explanation given to the public for these uniquely restrictive closures that limit public access to the seashore, other than they are somehow in the primary interest of resource protection and “come down on the side of birds and turtles”.
No deaths of Piping Plover chicks or destruction of eggs by humans are documented at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. More specifically, no Piping Plovers have been verified as lost to ORVs accessing the national seashore as is often claimed by environmental activists. The majority of nests and hatched birds the past four closure seasons, and before, were lost to predation and storms, one at the hands of a university researcher trying to band a bird.
In the face of no documented Piping Plover loss due to human activity, NPS, USGS and the contributing scientists have failed to explain specifically why, by way of science justification, 1000-meter boundaries, that prohibit public entry into an area up to 770 acres, must be established every time a Plover chick is observed. The literature indicates that on average Plover chick movement is less than 200 meters. The NPS claim in response to public comments that plover chicks run further distances on Hatteras is a ridiculous excuse for sound science. The public access denial consequences of such a subjective management policy for a national seashore, which is set aside for public access, is excessive, does not indicate a balance of responsible usage, and fails to reflect reasonable or professional resource management.

The link to this is as follows:

Dr. Berry speaks for all of us but cannot speak alone. Let your voice be heard and quickly

Tight Lines,


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Yesterday, June 19th, was a very long day for many of us that have been working so hard for years on the issues of access. People from all over the country waited through the hours as the House of Representatives debated the bill containing H.R. 4094 which if enacted, will re-establish reasonable pedestrian and motorized access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. At around 5:30, the word began to spread that indeed the bill had passed and that it wasn't just along party lines, for a change. Something I find encouraging though I know we have a long road ahead of us.

Of course, much ado will be made by the "dark side" with claims that the legislation will reverse needed, scientifically based protections implemented by NPS to protect plants and animals here at the Seashore. And as usual, details contradicting these claims will be left to blow in the wind as though they don't matter. There won't be mention of the fact that visitors to the Seashore don't destroy the plants that flourish here. But they will bring up Sea beach Amaranth, a federally protected species. Never mind that the plant is considered extirpated, or locally extinct. They will bring up the Plovers which are seeing the lowest numbers of nesting pair (6) since the draconian closures implemented by the Consent Decree went into effect. They will also avoid mentioning that they include, among other things, the Pole Road, as open access mileage available to persons wishing to enjoy vehicular access to the Seashore though no beach access is available except for pedestrians. Another blatant spin designed to disguise the reality of what NPS has done to this incredible place and their effort to remove all of us from the beaches for as long as possible.

It's irritating at this point in spite of the elation about the passage of 4094. Irritating because the Fed thinks it can manage a resource in a better way than can the stewards of same, especially those that work with their environment on a day to day basis as opposed to a wet nosed environmental studies graduate that has never experienced "nature" outside of a classroom but is full of concepts, supposition and an agenda fostered by some idyllic image of how "nature" should be, sans the human element.

Case and point is the governments forest management. For years, especially since the great fire in Yellowstone, many have been calling for more sensible management of the forests we have and yet this has been resisted not only by environmental groups and their Utopian vision, but by the government as well. The result has been increasingly frequent calls from members of congress, industry, and the public, to better manage these areas; particularly to prevent out of control wildfires. Though the issues are complex, our national forests keep getting burned at an alarming rate and the growing consensus, is that it is a result of government mismanagement. I'm not going to begin to delve into this argument any further but I will say this. A good friend of mine who I have known since I was 10 lives in Ft. Collins, Co. Another lives in Arizona. Thousands of acres have been burned and the fed is being pointed out as the cause. As I write, my home is filled with smoke from another fire in NC on federal land that was started as a result of a "controlled" burn in 30 mph winds. Folks as far away as Hampton Va. have reported smoke.

The point being that if left up the federal government and their poor management policies, what ever will we have left? Billions upon billions of dollars are spent in the name of protecting one resource or another and yet all we seemingly end up with is tragedy. One needs look no farther than Plovers and turtles at the Seashore to discover just how inept these people can really be. It's time for a change. It's time for us to work to return our public lands to the people that really care, the true stewards of our resources. 

Of course, now we move onto yet another chapter in our fight to restore access to the American public, restore an economy, and re-establish the right to protect our Seashore for the benefit of future generations while still, as we always did, protecting the resource.

Our rally cry becomes "On To The Senate!"

H.R. (House of Representatives) 4094 has been passed. Now we need concentrate on S. (Senate) 2372.
This has to pass in the senate committee before it moves on and hits the floor of the Senate for a vote. The hearing will be held on the 27th of June, next Wednesday which means that it's imperative that we push, hard and fast, to make our voices heard.

Contact your Senators and push this bill through. Contact those that are on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Click on the contact button at the bottom and sent them an email. Remind them of why this matters to you and how much you care about this resource and access.

You can make a difference and now, if ever, is the time to do so.

Send an email to the White House as well explaining the same.

We only have until next Wednesday to get this done lets get at it!

Tight Lines,


Friday, June 15, 2012


I lately sat down to watch the HBO series “Band of Brothers” again as it reminds me of the struggles we face. They were a small segment of the force that fought for victory against seemingly insurmountable odds, beginning on D-Day, and continuing until the end of the European conflict in 1945. The story told by those that were there, and part of this struggle, is beyond words.  At the beginning of each episode, we are treated by a short thought by the veterans who lived through so much and dealt with the world literally crashing in around them. I can’t help but feel connected somehow with these incredible people. But then I imagine that was the point of the reach out, grab your heart to the point where you actually worry about these soldiers and their fate.

Though it’s wonderful that their story was finally told in a fashion that not only pulls from deep inside, but brings an all too realistic image into the living room, it reminds me somewhat of what we are up against.

Of course the two cannot be compared in real terms. In their fight, people died, many people died. We don’t deal with combat, deprivation, trench foot, bitter cold, lack of food, shelter, etc. And we don’t have bullets, mortar rounds, and artillery raining down upon us.  Though there can, in reality, be no real comparison, there are similar circumstances, albeit, without the bullets and cetera.

Oppression by the force of arms seems to be the common ground. During WWII it was a matter of ideology. It was about one people being superior to another, the “master race” was to dominate the world and anybody that stood in their way was to be exterminated.

What occurs here now, becomes government sponsored destruction of the very economy upon which the residents of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands depend. And it has become obvious over the years that this is an intentional effort by NPS and the Department of the Interior though clearly ideology is the driving force behind the NPS actions and agenda.

I was asked a question by a friend that lives on the island a couple weeks ago and it was, “do they think we are ghosts?”  I had to think about that for a bit, but considering all the things I've heard and seen over the years I've been involved in this mess, and the actions of NPS and their cohorts, I have begun to ask the same question. And as the days go by, the questions continue to mount, the NPS agenda becomes more blatant, but continues to lack any sort of reasoning other than the agenda itself.
Of course, much has happened since I sat down to write last. Mike Murray will retire next month as he stated he would do some three years ago. This of course after having turned the economy and lifestyle of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands upside down and opening the door to our collective ruin. He gets to leave with a nice government pension, health care, etc.. while families and businesses on the islands are left to suffer in part, because of the choices he made. Recently interviewed, he shifted the responsibility for his choices to NPS as a whole and even had the audacity to say that he wished that access advocates had tried to come to terms with the environmentalists. Murray seems to forget that it was his obligation to kick those groups out of negotiated rule-making once they filed a lawsuit  in violation of their agreement with the Secretary of the Interior. He also seems to forget that every concession made by access groups was met with an even harder line by DOW, Audubon and SELC.
If you want to read the interview, (try not to throw up) it's here:

In the mean time, H.R. 4094 goes to the House floor as part of a larger bill this coming week. Make a serious effort to contact your congressmen and ask for their support on this bill.
In addition, our bill will be considered in the Senate on the 27th. A hearing has been scheduled before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks. The hearing will be held on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. in room SD-366 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
S. 2372, a bill to authorize pedestrian and motorized vehicular access in Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. We really need to push this folks. Lots of phone calls and e-mails. It's to late, because of short notice to rely on snail mail. Direct contact is your best option.
To find your rep, for the House, go here:
For the Senate subcommittee on Natural Resources:
"It's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease" folks, so please take the time to make the calls and email your representatives. If you want access in the future, this is what needs done. there is plenty of information here as well as , and
Two other things of interest are the extra signs that have shown up along Route 12 between Buxton and Avon and what happened to Ramp 43.
The new signs between the villages, are concentrated around Canadian Hole and "Kite Point", installed by NCDOT are intended to prevent people from parking on the side of Rt. 12 in order to kite board or wind surf, or for that matter, just surf. Apparently, this has also occurred down at Sandy Bay, between Frisco and Hatteras Village. The intent is obviously to prevent folks from parking on the side of a 55mph speed limit roadway; a hazard at best. But at the same time, it forces users of this area to purchase permits to drive on the sand like the rest of us have to. Of course, some continue to park along the road in spite of the signage. Here's a picture..I unfortunately don't have a credit. At least the blanket flowers still showed up.

So, yesterday I got a phone call about Ramp 43. And this is where I get back to the "agenda". In the first instance, NPS decided this week to open the area between Ramps 43 and 44 to access; pedestrian only access and only if you keep your feet wet. The chief propaganda minister, madame Holda also sought fit to inform the masses that the area had been re-established as a pre-nesting closure. It was originally closed as a prenesting area and then for Oystercatchers who have since nested and moved on. So they establish a nesting closure again? for invisible birds? in mid June? Oh that's right, the idea is to keep people off the beach as long as possible.
On top of that there are four turtle nests north of 43 that have been under water at least four times in the last week.
And if that isn't fun enough, NPS has moved Ramp 43 to the north. No longer do you drive up and over the long established, hardened dune, now you drive to the end of the former parking lot. I say former because there is really nowhere for anyone to park. So in their infinite wisdom, NPS has eliminated a perfectly good ramp in favor of eliminating any real pedestrian access in terms of parking and in the mean time created a funnel for ocean water to flood the entire area which will prevent virtually all access. Good job!

And of course, the fun part was going out to see all the folks on the sand.

As in nobody was on the beach by me.

If that's not fun enough, the NPS created wetlands are near flood stage since they wont drain them anymore. One decent rain event and everything floods, and quickly. Aren't we all glad that NPS is here to manage this area?

Empty beaches, ramps set to flood, mosquito populations that are astounding, six pair of plover for 2012 lwoest number since the massive closures began, gee whiz. Explain to me again why sensible resource management isn't used at the Seashore? I just don't get it.

Day in and day out I hear the complaints. "Permits for this, permits for that"; "I'm never coming back"; "this is ridiculous"; "I was going to invest in a house down here, but not now"..etc..

That is our NPS at work. Thanks, Mr Murray. Enjoy your publicly funded pension as we lose all we care for.

Tight Lines,


Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Outstanding Letter To Congressman Walter B. Jones

This inspiring letter was written by Malcom Peele and was published Tuesday 5/22/12 in the Coastland Times. It is a wonderful read and well worth the time. I reprint it with the authors permission.

Tight Lines,


Letter to the editor

An open letter to Gongressman Walter Jones:
    There is something terribly wrong in our country today, and there is no place where it is more evident than what is happening in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The inhabitants of this tiny island that consists of seven villages, are under siege by the allowances of repressive government no less than the framers of the Constitution were, who out of desperation fled from their homeland where generations of "their" families had lived. We the people of the United States are supposed to be living under the rule of law created by our founding documents, guarantying our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those fundamental rights are systematically being stripped away from us and one would wonder if there is any solution.
    The simplicity of the early days of the Audubon Society, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other similar wildlife groups who saw the necessity of protecting and preserving our precious natural resources, and rightfully so, has evolved into a very radical and deliberate paradigm shift towards a sense of absolute control over the public by these agencies and special interest groups. But the most unbelievable aspect about what is happening is how all of these groups somehow trump the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. They have become the puppeteers of our society and there influence affects every aspect of our daily lives, from commerce, to tourism, to recreation.
    Generations of families have made their living on our beaches and the waters of the Pamlico Sound, but today many have had to leave the prosperity of the fishing and crabbing industry because of restrictions and regulations that have been imposed upon them by the Marine Fisheries since 1976. For the ones who struggle to carry on the generational tradition, it becomes more and more difficult, and less and less lucrative every year.
    There are hundreds of square miles of water that make up the Pamlico Sound, but it is almost impossible to keep a sufficient ferry channel open between Hatteras Island and Ocracoke because of all the environmental hype and seasonal regulations restricting pipeline dredging, out of fear of disturbing some eel grass, a fish, or a bird. The channel that connects the two islands serves not only as the lifeline, but is also the evacuation route for the residents of Ocracoke Island during hurricane season. Within the past couple of years a million and a half dollars have been spent trying to quick fix the problem utilizing the Army Corps of Engineers sidecaster dredge. The results of that in Hatteras Inlet can best be summed up in a quote by Albert Einstein. "To keep doing the same failed thing over and over again, expecting a different result, is insanity."
    To say that we are being systematically stripped of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is not exaggeration or melodrama. The Department of the Interior took eighty five per cent of our island from our grandparents and great grandparents when they turned it into a "national seashore." Agreements and promises that were made to local islanders back then, that life would continue on just as it always had, were excepted by the people, and were honored by the DOI for decades, and we shared our beautiful island and beaches with people from all over the country and around the world. But today those promises and agreements are as uncertain as the wind, and the National Park Service is once more taking our land from us by denying access to many areas of our beaches, and charging outrageous amounts of money for permits to access other areas. They have destroyed the beauty of our beaches and the shoreline on the Pamlico side of the island with their thousands of signs and sticks and ribboned strings. And local merchants and businesses have suffered tremendous financial loss as a result of the things that are being imposed upon them. Conservation and preservation have become perverted and lost in the money game created by special interest groups keeping our courts tied up with lawsuits involving any and every absurd thing imaginable, and are probably one of the main contributors to slow job growth and loss of jobs.

 The NPS has tried to establish as factual, that the Piping Plover is indigenous to Hatteras Island, and because of their small numbers, are somehow subject to extinction, neither of which is true. Piping Plovers thrive where they "are" indigenous. The NPS has used this rhetoric to strengthen their agenda of closing down access to our public beaches by creating a make believe crisis to the eco system. The only crisis to the eco system on Hatteras Island is being perpetrated by the NPS, not the residents or visiting public. Within just a two year period (2010,2011) the NPS set 19,025 traps, resulting in 857 species trapped, 102 of which were cats. Among other species that were trapped and killed were raccoons, opossums, minks, nutria, coyotes, red fox, and gray fox.....all for a bird that is not indigenous to the island. It is tragic that this is permitted in modern society. If the Park Service wants to increase the population of the Piping Plover, wisdom would dictate, and the humane solution to the problem would be to trap the Piping Plover and raise them and release them back into the wild, "not" kill hundreds and hundreds of our precious wildlife animals. This island "still" belongs to "we the people"! Portsmouth Island used to be the hub among this little chain of islands known as the Outer Banks. Today it is a bird sanctuary for the NPS. That will never to happen to us!
    The following is from a 1998 copyrighted Bantam book entitled, The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States:
On June 8, 1789, Madison moved in the first federal Congress that "a declaration" be "prefixed to the constitution." That "prefix" which seems to have constituted what Madison called a "bill of rights," would say.....That all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from the people. That Government is instituted, and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of the institution.
    The residents of Hatteras Island request that action be taken to address the Department of the Interior, and to establish some degree of control over the NPS, the Marine Fisheries, and the myriad of special interest groups that are destroying our way of life here in North Carolina.

Malcolm W. Peele

Friday, May 11, 2012

Nothing Like Misinformation And A Slap In The Face

I was alerted to an article in the Huffington Post about the bills we have in congress. Here is the article as well as my response. I dont know if it will be published but I'm putting it out here anyway.
And I cant post it all at once..this could take a whilr.

I am always astounded when I read articles such as this one concerning Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. And in this case, I read what appears to be a boilerplate opinion of an individual who is very unfamiliar with not only the history of the Seashore but the issues that plague those that call this place home as well as visitors from all over this nation. I cannot speak about Biscayne Bay as I am unfamiliar with the issues there. Hatteras, on the other hand, is something I am intimately familiar with having spent almost a decade learning the facts about this remarkable Seashore. Mr Flattau, your assertion that access to our beaches has caused harm to the environment cannot be substantiated by the National park Service or anyone else either. There is no evidence extant that suggests that we have caused harm to this resource. There is a wealth of speculation and hundreds of statements about "could have, may have, possibly, perhaps, might," etc.. but no sound or peer reviewed science that shows that we are causing harm to this area. I defy you to prove me wrong.
Incidentally, there are no endangered birds nesting here.The closest you get is a minuscule segment of the Atlantic coast population of Piping Plovers, (charadrius melodus) which is listed as "least threatened". On average, only ten pair of these birds nest at the Seashore per year and each nest fledged about 1.3 chicks. The amount of beach closed for these chicks is astounding. And it is having an incredible impact on our economy as well as ruining the vacations of many visitors. Not once, not once!, in the history of the Seashore, has a plover been killed by human activity related to visitation or vehicular access to our beaches. This being true in spite of the fact that up until 4 years ago, these beaches were open 24/7, 365 days a year. That is the historical record as documented by NPS.
Plover chicks are about the size of a ping pong ball. But as mentioned before, the closures around these birds, the beaches that become inaccessible, are immense. Each chick now receives a 1000 meter buffer around them. This translates to a buffer of 2000 meters or 1.2 miles in diameter. This also equates to 776.285 acres, 751.4 football fields, or 33,815,000 square feet, per bird. It would take 31.5 of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouses to cross this buffer or 4.5 Empire State Buildings. With a slight adjustment on the Southern end of the village of Ocracoke, also surrounded by the Seashore, the entire village could be placed in one of these closures with room to spare. These are the largest closures of their kind in the entire country and are unwarranted and unsupported by sound, peer reviewed science.
Your claim that only 10% of the visitors to the Seashore come to drive on the beach is also false. NPS has no way of tracking visitors to the Seashore to begin with. They used to have a traffic counter at the entrance to the Seashore at Whalebone Junction which is at the Southern end of Nags Head. It recorded every vehicle that passed by it including, EMS, police, NPS, the milk truck, the ice trucks, NCDOT, and a host of other persons. NPS considers anyone, including the residents of the eight villages surrounded by the Seashore to be a visitor even though many of those people will never venture to the beach. Some of these people come from families that have lived on these islands since before this nation was born. As part of the requirement to follow the stipulations of the National Environmental Policy Act, NPS was required to do an economic impact study which would naturally include a visitor use study as well. To do this, NPS hired the Research Triangle Institute out of Raleigh, NC. The study they produced has been deemed flawed and incomplete by both RTI and NPS. Therefore, quoting numbers from that study, though NPS uses them none the less, produces nothing but error and bad information.
To suggest that the various merchants and service providers move somewhere else is an insult. About 99% of the businesses here on the islands are "mom and pop" shops and don't exist "next" to the Seashore but are surrounded by it. In fact, there are businesses extant that predate the establishment of the Seashore in 1952.
This area was mandated by Congress as a recreational area in 1937 and NPS was told to develop it for such uses as needed. (16 USC 459 Sec. 4). In 1940, it was given its formal name, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area and was set aside and dedicated "for the enjoyment and benefit of the American people". It's rather difficult to enjoy a place you can't get to.
The bills in congress, H.R.4094 and S. 2372 are intended to restore reasonable access to the Seashore while affording protection to wildlife and the resource, nothing more, nothing less.
If there was one thing I could ask, Mr. Flattau, if in the future, you chose to write about the Seashore, would you please contact someone that actually knows whats happening here?
I'm going to post my response to your article in my blog as well as a link to your article so that folks can have a look.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Of Space In Feet And Meters.

Yesterday began with going out to the Fessenden Center ball field to help set up for the music festival to benefit OBPA which turned out great. We even had a visit from NPS, a photo of which should show up on the OBPA facebook page, hopefully today. All of the music was really good, as was the food, and lots of vendors showed up in support of the event. I can say that everyone I saw was having a great time.

After setting up the tents, a few of us went over to the meeting of the United Mobile Access Preservation Alliance (UMAPA) held at the Anglers Club in Buxton, a group that has been very generous in their support of the CHAPA legal fund and lawsuit.

We ended up taking a break after having spent quite a bit of time discussing the issues here at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. I was headed home but ended up in a conversation about buffers, bird and turtle numbers and the like for a while as we stood outside.

A point was made that it's extremely difficult to put these buffer sizes in prospective in terms of something that most of us can easily imagine. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. The question became how does one translate a 1000 meter buffer into real and understandable terms.

Of course, you first have to understand that the 1000 meter distance is in all directions. You may remember from geometry class that this is called a radius. But it's the diameter that I'm trying to work with here, so the number we have to work with is 2000 meters.

Since most of us didn't grow up with the metric system, it can be a bit tough to imagine just how big an area this really is; set aside for a bird the size of a ping pong ball.

So just how big is this area? Well a 2000 meter wide circle is just over 1.2 miles in diameter or 6,561.6798 feet if your doing the math. Or 33,815,000 square feet if you prefer. And translated to acres, 776.285 is the number. If you prefer football fields, you're working with an area that would cover slightly more than 751 of them. All for a ping pong ball on toothpicks whose parents never feed or care for after they hatch.

One prospective I've always used is a Regan class aircraft carrier. This is the largest warship in the world with the capability of handling a multitude of aircraft taking off and landing simultaneously. It has a crew greater in number than the entire permanent resident population of Hatteras and Ocracoke combined and a flight deck that is only 4.5 acres. My guess is that you could park every carrier in the Atlantic fleet inside a plover closure and still have room for destroyers, submarines, cruisers, some tugs etc..

Those numbers are still incredibly difficult to fathom and I suppose that unless it was your job to deal with distance and area of this magnitude, it would be nearly impossible to relate to.

So the quest became, try and find something that we can all try and deal with. I have probably failed since I'm having a tough time imagining this myself. But I'll give it a shot anyway.

Most everybody that has visited the Seashore has either seen or climbed the Hatteras Lighthouse at one point or another. So at least that gives us common ground.

Now we've all seen the thing, we all have pictures, but I'm going to throw a couple in here for the sake of prospective. The first one is of the lighthouse is somewhat close. At 208 feet tall, it can be difficult to get the entire thing in a frame.

The next one is taken by Ramp 43 which shows the lighthouse at about .98 miles away.

So, even now, I still haven't reached the outside edge of the plover closure. I'd have to venture to the exit of Ramp 44 to do that. But I'm still trying to put this in real, understandable terms. I doubt I can.

The reality is, as amazing and hard to comprehend as it can be, becomes that in order to equate the diameter of the area set aside for our friends, the ping pong balls, you would have to lay 31and a half lighthouses, end to end to cross that space or slightly more than four and a half Empire State Buildings.

I know, it's still hard to imagine, but I tried.

This is why it's so important to call and write your members of the House and Senate an push for the passage of the bills that have been introduced. It's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease folks. If you want reasonable access to our Seashore, now it's your turn to help. The access organizations are doing all we can do, but without your participation, this will die in congress. The dark side is pushing hard to get these bills killed in committee, we need to push back, and hard. Tell your friends and family as well. Don't be afraid to ask them to help. It's going to take all of us.

Information on who to contact and details about what's happening here can be found here as well as:

This is the time for us to make a difference. Dinner is ready to go in the oven and it's up to all of us to cook it. Money and participation are the two things we need to open these beaches back up for the American people. I hope you'll join us in this fight.

Tight Lines,