Thursday, April 29, 2010

Where Did The Plovers go?

Much ado is made about the Piping Plover (charadrius melodus) and its nesting here at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. For years this bird has been the "poster child" of those who would wish us removed from these beaches.

For years we have pointed to the fact that not once since the plover first showed up at CHNSRA (1960) has there ever been an incident causing injury or death as a result of ORV use on the Seashore. We have long pointed out that 100% of plover mortality that has occurred here is a result of either storms or predation.

Plover like low lying areas to breed in, especially areas that have easy access to ephemeral ponds. They prefer mud flats, wash outs, and what are called "fans and blow outs" which is structure created by heavy seas that pound the beaches and carve out these "flats" as the ocean recedes.

Hatteras Island is a low sandbar that averages about 8' above mean seal level. And living here I am constantly reminded of this fact as several times a year we are "awash". I lost track of how many times my yard went under in the last half year or so and not by inches boys and girls, but by feet. The last good flood came with so much water it deposited a four foot section of 8x10 about five feet off the ground in the branches of the juniper tree beside my deck.

Now imagine what would happen if you were standing on the beach when such an event was under way.

This sort of flooding does not require a major storm, just a decent blow from one direction for a few days will push water up to the toe of the dunes and in many cases, right over them or through them which is wont to happen. Generally speaking, this can be a rather harrowing time to be on the beach.

Here's a picture taken by a friend, Don Bowers, of what I'm talking about. This happened last year.

Now imagine if you were a golf ball sized bird nesting on the beach.

Here's a picture of Cape Point. On the Western side, you'll notice how the beach curves to the left (west) and continues on. This is the area of the Seashore we refer to as "The Hook" and is where the plovers like to nest and are encouraged to do so.,-75.518818&spn=0.050205,0.13175&t=f&z=14&ecpose=35.2201495,-75.51881822,8574.41,8.198,0,0

Two weeks ago, NPS was all in a tizzy because they found a nest with an egg and were all excited about it being the earliest recorded plover nest in the Seashores history. Last week, they found another and in both cases the nests were enclosed with cages to keep predators from disturbing them.

Enter Mother Nature aka the Hand of God and see what happens.

We had a blow. Nothing special, just a few days of 20+ knot winds which kicked up a good ground swell. This combined with our bi-monthly "spring" tide, the highest tides of the month, and you have beach over-wash. In this case, the Hook was and still is almost entirely under water and waves were crashing  all the way up and into the interior dunes. It will happen again tonight as the wind turns back SW and stays that way for the next few days, assuming the forecast is correct.

So where did the plovers go? Actually, where did the NPS plover monitors go? With nests on the ground NPS is supposed to be monitoring them from sun up to sundown. Well, the monitors were nowhere to be seen yesterday. Did the birds fly north to the more productive breeding grounds there?

Does this lend credence to the USGS thought that encouraging plovers to nest here might be doing them more harm than good? I'm still trying to find out which biologist stated during the negotiated rule-making process that the best approach would be to shoo them away rather than let them nest in this historically poor nesting area.

While I don't wish the birds any harm and so hope they did in fact fly north, I do cringe at the thought of loosing access to Cape Point, the ruination of many vacations and the repeat of the economic catastrophe that has accompanied the loss of this important area for the last two years.

Remember, plovers are doing quite well elsewhere and last year hit the 1889 breeding pair mark which puts them ever closer to being eligible for delisting under the Endangered Species Act. (2000 pair is the magic number)

Tomorrows "weekly resource management report" should be an interesting read and will eventually be available at:

You can also have this and the weekly access report sent directly to your inbox by writing to Cyndy Holda at
(underscore between cyndy_holda)

For my friends in Hampton, Va. I hope you'll attend the DEIS meeting tonight and speak your mind. Remember, NPS is required to address your questions about the DEIS so keep them germain and remember this has nothing to do with DOW, Audubon or SELC or the consent decree. Ask them questions they MUST respond to.

Well I'm shortly off to the beach to watch for "the watchers", find an invisible pair of American Oystercatchers  and hopefully put some more fish in the cooler. Dinner last night, fresh bluefish and puppy drum, wet my appetite for another.

Tight Lines,


Monday, April 26, 2010


On the eve of the first NPS meeting about the DEIS I cant sleep. I bet I'm not the only one. With a deadline of midnight, May 11th to submit public comment on this travesty of a "plan", a lot of candles will be burning these next few nights.

This whole episode is so terribly frustrating. The reality is, that neither NPS nor the assorted environmental groups can show that we, as users of the Seashore, cause harm to either the environment or wildlife. In fact, the record shows quite the opposite. All of this is conveniently ignored. But then so has been the relevant law and procedural requirement. Even the USGS protocols, the basis for which these plans are based, fail to follow regulations in terms of peer review requirements. Just how many laws and regulations will be violated in order to seize the Seashore from the American People? How many more lost jobs and ruined vacations will come to pass?

Its blowing tonight. Already water is crashing up onto the beaches at higher than normal levels and will continue to rise with each day until the full moon arrives. How many nests will be destroyed over the next few days? Not destroyed by the hand of Man, but by the sea? Its said that a cubic yard of seawater weighs 1784 pounds. Put it in motion and it becomes easy to understand how dynamic this beach system is and why wildlife struggles to survive here. If they could show it was our fault, I'd sit down and shut up.

The NPS preferred management alternative (ALT F) makes the current court approved consent decree look like child's play. Does it bother anyone but me that during the recent status conference with the judge Derb Carter said he was confident that "we" will have a final rule in place by the end of the year? We?

As I sit here, I hear the wind and the surf and every seven seconds or so the lighthouse beacon traces its path through my window.  What was for me a monument welcoming me "home" every time I came to visit years ago now stands as a testament of oppression and yet the light somehow inspires me to fight this fight. Hopefully that light will reach the minds of many and inspire them to tell the NPS hell no!

I think I'll watch the light for a bit and enjoy the wind.

Irene Nolan has another great post about public comment...:

For a good read on how environmental groups are making their money, here is a good read:

Y'All have a great evening.

Tight Lines,


Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Swear I'm Going To Asplode!

I was out on the beach today with friends and as usual, the conversation turned to access issues. I should say something like "extended family", really, as Ive known these folks for years and fished with them many times. We're not related in any way except for the collective deep love of the seashore and the good times we've had. One of the neatest part of the "experience" that is this Seashore is that over time you meet folks from all over who you see time after time on the beach. My friends today were from Ohio, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, Virginia, New Jersey and of course N.C.

Somebody made mention of the animal slaughter that's going on here annually in the name of protecting other wildlife.

And then I came home and read this incredulous story. As you read this, think of the annual slaughter, think of the thousands of geese that USFWS killed a couple years back, think of the current ghost crab hunt that NPS has quietly started....ALL KILLING WILDLIFE!

"Wildlife managers enlist skunks, badgers to control pelican population at SE Idaho reservoir

By Associated Press
12:32 p.m. EDT, April 21, 2010

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho is enlisting badgers and skunks in its fight against pelicans that are eating too many sport fish and hurting sensitive populations of Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game managers released three badgers and two skunks last week on Gull Island in southeastern Idaho's Blackfoot Reservoir.

Last year, federal officials rejected Idaho's plan to shoot birds and oil eggs to halve the nesting pelican population in southern and eastern Idaho by 2013.

Federal officials dubbed that an "eradication program."

So now, state managers are releasing predators, even though they opted against doing so in 2009 because they feared that badgers and skunks could hurt colonies of other nesting birds."

This is utterly astounding! What the hell are they doing here that "federal officials rejected" elsewhere?

See how insane this stuff gets?

The link to the article is:,0,115453.story

Tight Lines,


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DEIS, Extension Please!

Its getting to be crunch time for public comment about the NPS Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the NPS preferred alternative. (Alt F) With only a couple of weeks to go, many of us are shifting through this mountain of charts and rules, dates, and proposed closures.

One thing is certain. If NPS implements their plan as is, the American people are going to be screwed right out of this place while still paying to maintain it. Especially hard hit will be the young families living on a tight budget and their children. Hatteras has always been a place where a family could get by without breaking the bank and still have an excellent time.

I've been in this fight for years and my computers have been too. Ive got gigabytes of studies on birds, turtles, erosion, drainage, closures, federal law, NPS management policy, Seashore history, etc at my fingertips and I still find the DEIS to be an overwhelming document. I cant imagine how intimidating it must be for someone unfamiliar with the issues.

In an attempt to deal with the complexity, the Coalition for Beach Access has released video of the workshops that were held and a copy of the informative handout that will make submitting a public comment alot easier. These can be found at:

Another thing that was done was to ask for an extension to the 60 (not long enough) day comment period so that we could have some chance at digesting this 810 page document and make intelligent and informed comment. NPS turned the CBA down, flat.

Last week, members of the community made a suicide run to DC to talk to NPS Director Jon Jarvis asking for the extension again. Also on Friday, a letter was sent to his office asking for same from  U.S.Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan as well as Walter Jones, Member of Congress. Hopefully, this will help.

I think everybody should write director Jarvis and ask for an extension. His e-mail address is:  (please note that it reads Jon_Jarvis).

Tell him the document is overwhelming and you think the public needs more time.

In any case, please take the time to make an informed comment. Our comments are like votes to some degree. The more that say no, the more ammo we have down the road.

Tight Lines,


Saturday, April 17, 2010

I hate laundry. Its like watching grass grow and only slightly more fun than sanding drywall.  You can quote me on that.

Yesterday was a beautiful albeit exceptionally windy day where the oceans waters struggled between warm and cold; the seemingly endless struggle that we endure every spring and fall. All eyes continue to look at the Rutgers infra-red spectrometry reading of sea surface temperatures to get an idea of where the fish should be. This time of year we're waiting for the 65 degree water to bring the Drum and other fish. Primarily though, we wait for the Drum. Had a couple of nice hits but no Red Drum for me before my short pants clad body had to go get warm. It is, after all, extremely easy to become hypothermia in a 20+ knot wind.

While I was on the sand I met a fellow fisherman from Virginia. It was his first time on the Seashore and he brought his new wife with him. After talking about fishing for a bit he asked about all the stakes, closures and cetera. The more I told him, the more he asked and the more upset he became at whats happening to OUR Seashore. This guy was on the ball. he listened, contemplated and hit me again and again with one tough question after another. After I got home and thought about what a challenging conversation we had, it occurred to me that my answer to his educated and poignant questions, my answers had fallen into mostly three basic categories; " I don't know because it doesn't make sense", "there's no peer reviewed science to justify what these people are doing", or "they are ignoring or violating federal law."

Talk about ruining a guys day. But then a lot of folks vacations have been ruined by this mess. People work hard for a living and want to come here to relax which was the intent of Congress when this Recreational Seashore was established; only to be denied. I have friends, may as well be family, that travel from all over this nation and beyond to set foot on this extraordinary beach system. All of us are being denied access to a Seashore that we, the people of this nation,own and pay to operate. All so that we can kill hundreds of innocent animals in the name of protecting a few birds who are fairing worse in spite of these draconian closures that went into effect.

 Good job! Close a Seashore, destroy an economy, break the law, ignore sound scientific process, and watch the protected wildlife numbers fall. And in the process, deny the great people of this nation access to that which is theirs.

When tax day arrived on Thursday, It ticked me off to no extent that my tax dollars were being used to shut this place down and line the pockets of the people that have done this to all of us.

Some of you may think I'm crying over nothing. Wake up folks, this is happening all over this country, one lawsuit at a time. As things are going now, it wont be long before you cant go to Yellowstone, the lawsuits are already underway and or in the making. Look for yourself and be amazed.

Tight Lines,


Friday, April 16, 2010


Another thing that blows my mind about all this mess is the incredible math that NPS spews forth relative to visitation to the Seashore. I don't know where on Gods green earth these people get these numbers but they are outrageous, falsely inflated and obviously intended to deceive. Clearly NPS is trying to pull the wool over the public's eye by making it seem like the impact of a closed Seashore is negligible.
NPS claims that there were 2.4 million visitors to the Seashore last year. That's 6575.342 different people here every day of the year.
So that explains why virtually every business that would normally be packed during the spring and summer had their receipts showing somewhere between 40 and 60% off compared to a pre-consent decree year. This also explains how the county went from being the number two donor county to the one with the highest unemployment rate in the state.
Last year, for the first time ever, I was routinely driving on an empty road as I travelled from Buxton to Avon, five miles up the road. Not at midnight folks, but mid day, in the summer. And this is arguably the busiest stretch of road on the Island.
Also thrown into that figure were an estimated 380 odd thousand bird watchers. Where were they? That's over a thousand bird enthusiasts here per day all year long. As much time as I spend on these beaches, I would have been tripping all over them just to fish.
Mr. Murray, these numbers are bogus. Please tell me where they all stayed, ate, bought their souvenirs or fishing tackle? It damn sure wasn't on this island or O'coke either.
Its time to stop closing beaches for invisible birds and inventing invisible people.

Tight Lines,


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Night Driving Ban

One of the things that really bugs me about all this closed beach nonsense is the Ban on night driving. Very soon anybody caught out on the beach in a vehicle after 10pm or before 6am is going to get a whopper of a ticket from NPS. The stated concept is that the ban will prevent an interaction with nesting turtles.

When a turtle leaves the sea to nest (or not) its referred to as a crawl. These crawls come in two flavors; one in which a nest is laid and the other, a false crawl, where the turtle comes onto the beach but returns to the water without nesting. Nobody knows why these false crawls occur but they do and are expected everywhere sea turtles nest.

Cape Hatteras happens to be on the extreme northern end of the turtle nesting range and consequently has relatively low nesting numbers compared with points further south. We usually end up with less than a hundred nests on the Seashores 70 odd miles of beach as compared to say Florida where nearly 50,000 nests are laid annually. And quite simply put, its the cooler climate and cooler water that account for this barrier of sorts. And that cooler water can often lead to death. My friend Kevin, an incredible conservationist and truly gifted fisherman just told me about an incident that occurred off of, I believe, South Carolina, where eighty some odd turtles were caught up in a cold water eddy off the coast and subsequently died of hypothermia. We've had quite a few turtles lost here for the same reason this year.

Back to the driving issue which is night driving.  I'm not going to get into a major discussion as I'd be sitting here all day. And besides, Two friends of mine who have worked with and studied these animals at this Seashore since 1978 (one of them anyway) have just put together an exhaustive study of turtle nesting, habits, locations, mortality etc. that spans well over 100 pages in length. Nobody knows more about the nesting that's occurred at the Seashore over the last 32 years than Larry Hardham, President of the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club and his cohort, Bob Davis. Their study should be published soon I'm told, and that's where you'll be able to go for the statistical analysis. And considering that Larry has tracked every nest and false crawl that's happened here since '78, Id say the man knows what hes talking about.

Basically, the enviro-lawyers and NPS are claiming that driving at night during nesting season will prevent nesting by disturbance, sand compaction, headlights (or lights in general), tire ruts, etc. And then there's those who get all up in arms claiming a turtle may, might, possibly, could be, run over by an ORV. Only problem is, nobody seems to have told the turtles that these are issues because they keep on coming. If you want to know more, have a gander at the Coalition for Beach Access' position statement where some of this stuff is clearly and scientifically refuted. Here's one passage:

"Nighttime driving during the nesting season does not equate to zero protection of turtle nests. The likelihood of an ORV / turtle encounter is remote in the first place. In the best of years, approximately 1 nest and 1 false crawl occur nightly during nesting season over the seventy miles of beach. This very low density of nightly turtle activity, combined with naturally lower ORV activity at night, makes ORV / turtle encounters highly unlikely."

And another thing. When these all knowing biologists look at various species they come up with these "target" numbers. Where they get them, I have no clue. And every time I've asked one of these folks as to the justification for the given target number I keep getting muddled response that basically works out to be something like " well, we just think that this is what the number should be". When it comes to turtles, one of these numbers is referred to as the "false crawl ratio."

So the powers that be have established what they consider a proper ratio of false crawls to nests for a given beach system. If, for example, a given beach has a disproportionately high number of false crawls as opposed to nests and it exceeds the target ratio, then they'll say something is wrong etc. Take a trip over to: and you'll find Mr Hardham explaining that even with night driving and 24/7 beach access, (the way it should be) the false crawl ratio here at the Seashore is better than the standard set for an entirely undisturbed beach.

(I should note that almost 40% of all turtle nests at the seashore are lost to storms, predation, and NPS's refusal to move nests in high risk zones where annual, predictable beach formation occurs.)

Alot of folks don't understand what these beaches are like so I thought Id throw in a couple of pics to help understand including a wildlife interaction of my own.

The beach off Ramp 44 with Buxton in the background.

                                                                 A view of Cape Point

Interacting with wildlife. This is "Frostbite". So named because the cold took almost all if his "toes". he came to say hello every time I was on the beach, three years running.

Well folks, that's all for now.

Tight Lines,


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Meeting

I sat tonight in an auditorium at The DEIS workshop presented by the Coalition for Beach Access. This first meeting was held at Cape Hatteras High School a couple miles down the road from where I live. The meeting was attended by many and almost to capacity. A room filled with young and old from all walks of life. Many of those in attendance were faces I see rather regularly during my Island adventures. And many of those faces belong to those whose families arrived here generations before, in some cases, hundreds of years ago. Some have lived on this sandbar since long before the Seashore was dedicated in '58. For quite a few, maybe even most, this was their first exposure to the process and its ramifications. To hear the reaction of those seated around me as they learned for the first time just how devastating  the NPS preferred plan will be and what it will mean for the Seashore brought tears to my eyes.
I wish I could find the words to describe what I heard but they escape me.

It was said tonight that life on these Islands is neither easy nor convenient. I couldn't agree more. And now we're faced with an oppressive future wherein NPS controls virtually every aspect of life, especially the economy as a closed Seashore means no economy at all. This year, for the first time, the Hatteras Island Food Bank was unable to help all those in need in large part because of the draconian Consent decree. This alone has cost many of us our jobs and has placed Dare County into the  rather dubious position of number one in terms of unemployment.

As important is that the people of this nation lose access to a place they were promised by Congress that would always be theirs. As far as NPS is concerned, we're all visitors to the Seashore whether we live here or not.

So we all need to band together and fight this nonsense. NPS does not have the science to support the need for these measures. Nor, for that matter does anybody else. And they violate federal law.

This stuff ticks me off.

If you're going to comment, and I ask you all to do so, remember! this has nothing to do with the consent decree, DOW, Audubon or SELC so don't say anything about them else your comment will be ignored.

Tight Lines,


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Closed Beaches and the Law

I went offshore yesterday for the first time ever. A heck of a ride out but the sea laid down  and we got into some blue fin Tuna after a long and hurried ride north through the Gulf Stream. So with the one fish we could keep, 157 pounder, we headed back. This time, I got to see the Island from Buxton through Hatteras.
What struck me was the great expanse of empty beach because of the closures; which this year, are immense. And the sickening part of the whole thing is they've barely even started shutting you and me off this Seashore. There is much more to come folks.
A lot, but still to few people are fighting hard to save this Seashore from the land-grab and we need help. Right now its all about public comment on the proposed NPS alternatives. In the next week there will be workshops held to help folks understand what this mess is and video of these gatherings will be available. Lots of good info here folks. If you cant attend, please watch the video. And please remember, keep the emotion in check and slam them with facts. And there's plenty of those.

My favorites being these...more to come though.

1) the Enabling Legislation  (16 USC 459 ) which reads (in part):

“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 . ..”

2) NPS Organic Act (16 USC) in part:

“The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

3) the important one (16 USC 459 1a-1) in part:

“The authorization of activities shall be construed and the protection, management, and administration of these areas shall be conducted in light of the high public value and integrity of the National Park System and shall not be exercised in derogation of the values and purposes for which these various areas have been established, except as may have been or shall be directly and specifically provided by Congress.”

To borrow a section or two from the Coalition for Beach Access position statement,

"The enabling legislation for the Recreational Area, clearly excepts areas “especially adaptable for recreational uses, particularly swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, and other recreational activities of similar nature”. This 1978 act was passed six years after the Executive Order requiring ORV plans and, it continued to authorize the exception of recreational areas as defined in the enabling legislation."

"It is imperative that ORV use be recognized for exactly what it is: A historical means of access to an area especially attractive for recreational opportunities. The use of an ORV is not considered a recreational activity in this Recreational Area. These recreational opportunities sought, allow the public to enjoy the Seashore’s resources and values.

Denying access to recreational opportunities, many of which are specifically protected in the Enabling Legislation, denies the Seashore’s current visitors the opportunity to enjoy the park’s resources and values and denies future generations the opportunity to enjoy the park’s resources in direct violation of Park Services Management Policies. The vast stretches of undeveloped shoreline between villages are a major attraction for visitors. Closing as little as 20% of the 68 miles of shoreline forces more people into smaller

areas, increasing the potential for user conflict and diminishing the attractiveness for visitors. It is unreasonable to expect, or attempt to provide, a beach wilderness experience with over two million annual visitors on only 68 miles or shoreline. The recreational activities (edit) are activities that do not cause harm or impairment to the parks resources or values, nor do they cause “unacceptable impacts”. All of these recreational activities are historic and traditional uses and meet the requirements outlined in the U.S.C. Code"
So there's some more stuff for you to contemplate. More to follow.

Tight Lines,


Friday, April 9, 2010

No Big Surprise

Its no wonder this stuff is so frustrating. I'll let Irene Nolan tell you the story.

These folks should run for congress.They obviously break any rule they choose to meet their agenda just as congress through the Constitution under the bus. Yep, these folks would fit right in.

Tight Lines,


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Closures And Nesting

I hate to say it but I'm beginning to wonder if 2010 is going to result in near 100% closure of the Seashore. I drove to Avon today and was astounded by the size of the closure between Ramp 38 and Buxton. 38 will be a cul-de-sac shortly. A friend writes on his blog that the closed area between 43 and 44 has been expanded and it sounds like Ramp 45 is almost closed. Its only April 7th.
And check this out. You don't think NPS wants to turn this Seashore into a highly regulated "Disneyland"...just got this in the email this morning...

If you just heard a loud noise, it was probably my head exploding.

So we're in pre-nesting season and all of the imagined and real birds have come to do their bird thing. And so the closures grow. Nesting will begin and NPS will begin a tally of nests, pairs of birds, eggs, chicks, fledged chicks etc..
Derb always touts increased nesting as a sign of success with the consent decree in place. But what does it really mean? Well, he cant tout Plover numbers and he cant tout Oystercatcher numbers so he goes for "the other colonial waterbirds". That would be Least Terns (LETE) for example. This would be a bird whose numbers reportedly increased last year. But wait...over and over again in the LETE counts you see the word "approximately" when at the end of the year they give a finite number. I wonder how that works!

Its the nest count that you really need to pay attention to and here's why:
Lets say that we're standing on the beach and 100 pair of terns come and build their nests. NPS will record 100 nests on their tally sheet under number of nests this year.

Along comes a wave that wipes out all 100 nests. NPS records this event also. The birds come right back and re-nest. BUT, the math changes. Now the NPS record will show 100 pair of terns but the number of nests is now 200 even though this is 100% re-nesting. If it happened again, the nest tally would jump to 300 in spite of the fact that only 100 nests actually exist..

This is the BS we deal with in this fight to save this Seashore. One more example of the government railroading the American people without cause. 

I hope you'll join this fight, we need all the help we can get.

Tight Lines,


Monday, April 5, 2010

The Shuttle

A few years ago a few good friends and I sat out on Cape Point on a clear night and proceeded to freeze our collective hineys off and watch the ascent of the space shuttle as it left the Florida coast. To say that this was an awesome event would be a gross understatement. One of our friends had satellite TV in his slide in camper so the dozen or so folks out there had the luxury of watching the countdown, launch, ascent and then the neat thing happened. As the shuttle made its way east, it flew through the constellation Orion and they started the main engine shutdown countdown...hearing the call and watching that point of light disappear as it was travelling at 15,500mph made the whole evening worth it, frozen or not.
This morning, I got to see the whole show all over again with the addition of watching the space station cruise by a few minuets before liftoff. This time though, it was shorts and a t-shirt from my deck with a cup of fresh java to toast our heroes as they began their adventure. Missing were my fellow veterans of that frosty night on The Point but this morning they were sitting at home taking care of their new baby Boy (FHB and Pirate in Training). And that's when it hit me. If NPS and the rest of the darkside get their way, this young child will never experience the wonders that can be seen from the Point.

And that's just wrong.

Tight Lines,


Sunday, April 4, 2010

More Sound Science

It always interests me to go to assorted websites and read the arguments between pro-access and anti- access folks. Some of the posts there are priceless and do a wondrous job of outlining just how ignorant of this Seashore and biased some of these folks can be. Of course, in prospective, they get their information from the spin doctors at DOW, Audubon and SELC whose collection of lies, half truths and misrepresentations abound. NPS is no stranger to these tactics either though they tend to be a bit more restrained, sometimes.
Yesterday at 8am I was in yet another meeting that involves digesting and responding to the NPS 810 page Draft Environmental Impact Statement. This thing is short on common sense, long on horse poop, and chock full of graphs of one sort or another. Reminds me of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant. If I hadn't cooked my brain reading American Oystercatcher studies this day I could tell you what page to look for as I discuss a particular pie chart that an astute member of our crew discovered. I'll have to come back and do that later.

The NPS does fly overs on the holidays, spring, summer and fall, the purpose of which is to count vehicles on the Seashore. In this particular pie chart, the numbers for the 4Th of July are shown with a comment made about observations. The comment claims something to the effect that most of the vehicles they sighted were seen at Bodie Island Spit, Cape Point and I believe Hatteras Inlet.
HUH? All of these areas were closed to ALL human activity! No trucks, no pedestrians, nothing except NPS observers. Either somebody is so full of (  ) you could smell them a mile away or NPS had one heck of a party. The scary part is, I wouldn't know which way to bet, not anymore.

Tight Lines,

Heres a good read that takes a look at what happened here last year. This comes from the Outer Banks Preservation Association or OBPA.

Tight Lines,


NPS Resource Management Field Summary Reports – Synopsis

The first full season under the Consent Decree

The 2009 bird-breeding season at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore experienced better than normal nesting weather. Temperatures at the Seashore were cooler than normal. No tropical storms or nor’easters flooded the islands. Normal rainfall amounts fell. Conditions suggested better than average results might be expected. Actual numbers reported by the NPS through August 7, 2009 indicate results have not been better, and in some cases are worse, than in 2008.

In the case of the piping plover (PIPL), 2009 compared to 2008 recorded fewer breeding pairs (9 vs. 11), fewer hatched eggs (19 vs. 22), and fewer fledged chicks (6 vs. 7). The Consent Decree went into effect on May 1, 2008, after the arrival of the PIPLs for the 2008 breeding season. The results for 2008, and for 2009 (the first full year under the Consent Decree) have shown no improvement from what was experienced under the Interim Plan in effect in 2006/2007. The 2009 fledge rate of .67 per breeding pair matches the 2006 results.

American oystercatchers (AMOY) nesting results for 2009 were also worse than in 2008. Assuming all remaining chicks as of August 7 successfully fledge, 2009 will record 14 fledged chicks compared to 17 recorded in 2008. AMOY’s do not breed until four years of age, so the increase in the number of breeding pairs in recent years should be attributed to management policies prior to the Consent Decree.

Results for black skimmers and other colonial waterbirds for which closures are established have not yet been quantified by the NPS. The turtle-nesting season is still in progress with nests and false crawls numbers to-date similar to what were experienced in 2008.

Observations suggest that black skimmers continue to nest in limited numbers on the seashore with the Consent Decree having no noticeable improvement. However, as in 2008, skimmers have nested in great numbers on Cora June Island. David Allen of the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission said there were “over 100 black skimmers” and some common terns on Cora June Island after viewing pictures this summer. Although only 500 yards behind the Hatteras Village ferry docks, Cora June is not technically part of the Seashore and therefore is excluded from the NPS statistics. Also, approximately 250 to 300 black skimmers, 30 common terns and 300 least terns have been observed nesting on the beaches south of the Oregon Inlet groin on Pea Island. However, this area is also excluded from the results reported by the NPS because it is managed within the Pea Island Wildlife Reserve, even though it is a part of the Seashore.

The results have not supported the closure policies dictated by the Consent Decree. In fact, factors other than ORV or pedestrian activities have had a more significant impact on results. The NPS recognizes that predators are responsible for significant loses of bird and turtle eggs and hatchlings. Since 2002, over 800 predators have been trapped on the Seashore. Numbers of trappings have increased substantially over the past two years after the NPS hired a full-time trapper. Some have surmised that predator activity on the beaches may have actually increased as a result of the Consent Decree due to the absence of ORVs and pedestrians. Another factor negatively impacting the breeding success of all shorebirds is the loss of habitat due to vegetation growth that has occurred in areas used for nesting in prior years. The absence of ORV activity as a result of closures during the non-breeding season (September thru March) has contributed to the unchecked vegetation growth in these areas. A third factor that negatively impacts results is weather. Storms did not impact the bird-nesting season in 2009, and it remains to be seen if storms (combined with the NPS policy of not relocating turtle nests from at-risk locations) will negatively impact the 2009 turtle hatches.

When costs are considered, the appropriateness of the Consent Decree is even more questionable. Thru 8/16/2008 (only three and a half months after its implementation), the NPS spent $316,000 more than what would have been spent under the Interim Plan (per Supt. Mike Murray) and continues to incur incremental costs during 2009 (aprox. $300,000 to $400,000). As a result of the Consent Decree settlement, the plaintiffs were paid $100,000. These costs are real, but the cost to the U.S. taxpayers does not even approach the cost to the economy of the islands, nor the diminished quality of the visitors’ experience at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Well friends, looks like all that research, filing and cross filing has killed my old flagship desktop so now I'm driving a new beastie that arrived this day in a box only slightly smaller than a washing machine and almost as heavy. Pretty scary for this old IT guy when he opens up the case to see the goodies and finds an entire panel made to accommodate eight hard! Now if only I could teach this thing to fish!
Speaking of fishing, this place could bust loose any day. We've got gobs of 64 degree water pushing up from the Gulf Stream and with days of SE/SW winds on the way, the big critters wont be far behind. Dave, if your going to stop by, this is the week to do it!
Closures are up all over the place and rumors of closures abound. Just like last year, earlier, larger, and in the end, no benefit to the critters but one hell of a smack to all of us. I see where the president of Audubon (Auto-ban) was nice enough to write Dare County (where most of the Seashore is) to tell us all of just how happy we should be that they are taking such good care of the Seashore for us. Something tells me it didn't come with a check to replenish the food bank down here that's already straining with a 17.5% unemployment rate. Yup, we're all just so happy that your actions have destroyed our way of life and the future of the kids around here. Fitting that your "society" is named after a guy that shot and killed every bird he could.
So we're in the middle of this fight and are now faced with an incomplete DEIS that we've but a few weeks left to comment on. 810 pages of stuff that outlines just how screwed we are. I'm pretty sure my first comment is going to be an objection to the requirement of comment while the DEIS is incomplete because the federally required economic impact study is not yet finished.
This thing is damn right stupid. Piping Plovers are the only threatened bird at the Seashore. If the Plovers are around you can bring a dog into the Seashore on a six foot leash but they want to make it so no pets, namely dogs, are allowed ANYWHERE in the seashore during American Oyster-catcher breeding season. This stinks worse than the Denver stock show.
Great, we get stuck with Obama-care and Derbcare all at once.

If you're interested, some sites to help keep your beaches free and accessible:

I'll be posting more sites and some useful stuff to help with your DEIS comments asap

Tight Lines,