Friday, November 11, 2011

Of Water And NPS Misinformation (again)

It's a rare thing when I sit down to write these posts. So rare that from time to time I've had complaints about the delay but as I've often explained, I would prefer to be able to tie things together rather than toss out one little complaint after another. To me, it makes more sense to wait and if there is one thing that has proven itself repeatedly since I began to write this blog, If you wait long enough, the "darkside", identified as the National Park Service, the Southern Environmental Law Center, Defenders of Wildlife, or the Audubon Society, all of whom wish to severely limit human presence at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, your patience will prove to provide fodder for condemnation of their activities.

Those involved or familiar with this fight against the aforementioned environmental groups and their NPS cronies have also struggled to understand why it is so difficult to get any honest media attention relative to the happenings at the Seashore and the intentions of the "darkside". Granted, there have been exceptions occasionally though it remains true that the most trusted media source for information I could ever think of is the Island Free Press. http://www.islandfreepress.org/

There are of course, other blogs and media that deal with NPS issues and management practice here, most notably, the National Parks Traveller and its author, Kurt Repansheck who has written many a post regarding the Seashore over the last years, most of which take the words of the environmental groups and their NPS pets as gospel while often disregarding contradictory information provided by those of us that actually live or visit here.

Today was no exception as Repansheck decided to take on the very same standing water issues around the access points at ramps 43 and 44 as well as the campground by Cape Point that I and many others have been complaining about since September; to no avail. This is not a new issue nor are the complaints surrounding it. And as one may accurately surmise, relevant NPS complacency is not a new thing either.

Repanshecks first major error was to contact Cyndy Holda as a "reliable" source of information for his article. Though she may be the Chief Information Officer for the Seashore, generally speaking, the information she provides is almost consistently inaccurate, perhaps willfully untruthful, or a combination of both.

In his first paragraph, Repansheck states that our water tables were very high this year (information apparently provided by NPS) though he apparently doesn't realize that this portion of Hatteras Island was incredibly dry virtually all spring and summer and our entire water supply comes from well systems. Hardly a recipe for high water tables. Even Hurricane Irene only dropped 6.5 inches of water in the Buxton area where this problem lies, leaving us still far short of average rainfall for the area.

He then goes on to state that: "quick solutions, though, are not readily available, as various state and federal laws prevent the park from simply draining the water away."

This is simply untrue. As stated before, during my first post on this subject, as per Jan DeBlieu, North Carolina Coastal Federation, NPS needs do nothing more than get a permit from the N.C Division of Water Quality to drain this water to the level where the road and campground are clear and dry.

The next paragraph again shows Holda's ignorance and what's so amazing to me is that the very thing she uses as an excuse to prevent drainage is that which will allow USFWS to reconstruct the impoundments at Pea Island and replace their drain system that got destroyed during Irene because they are "grandfathered" in and can be repaired or replaced.

"While the national seashore has a drainage ditch system, it was built "decades ago before the Wetlands Protection Act and other modern environmental laws came into existence," says Cyndy Holda, the seashore's spokeswoman."

The following paragraph stunned me. "The ditches were meant to reduce water levels in and around Cape Point Campground, which was built in a wetland, but ironically the drainage system had no fixed outlet, so the system holds water rather than drains it."

First of all, the campground was built upon what had been the old radar site which photos from as far back as the 1940's show was very little wetlands and was surely not a campground.



Secondly, her claim that there is no "fixed" drainage outlet is patently false. contained within the "Assessment of Coastal Water Resources and Watershed Conditions at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
Michael A. Mallin, Matthew R. McIver and Virginia L. Johnson Technical Report NPS/NRWRD/NRTR- 2006/351 is a very clear portrayal of the very thing she claims does not exist.

For example, on page 21, figure 2, a very clear drain  and drain path is labeled. The author also goes on to mention that "Some are drained through a large pond area into the ocean, while some of the wetlands on the south side of the island (meaning the area around Cape Point) are drained through a gated culvert (plate 6)(shown below) operated by NPS.."




And for the record, here is the drain in action.




Clearly, either NPS through Cyndy Holda, or both intend to misinform. Her next quoted statement rings at least partially true though as explained in my blog post twice back, NPS got in trouble because they never bothered to get a permit, not because they drained the excess water.

"In years past, she says, the seashore staff would use heavy equipment to trench ditches to drain the water from wetlands areas and roads to the beach. However, when crews did that in 2004 the North Carolina Division of Water Quality issued a Notice of Violation to the seashore for violating state laws that prohibit draining wetlands, the spokeswoman added."

Perhaps the most frightening part is hearing that NPS might consider raising the roadway especially in light of the fact that prior to Hurricane Isabel in 2003, almost the entire drive from the entrance to that portion of the Seashore was green with pines and live oaks until you arrived at the campground entrance. Not to mention the unnecessary cost to taxpayers and if NPS's work on ramp 44 is any indication of whats to come..God help us all.

NPS destroyed these woods by not utilizing the drains that were extant and effectively created man made impoundments that hold water and killed the vegetation contained therein.

Ironically, The various mammalian species attracted to the very environment NPS created are slaughtered by the hundreds all the while putting human health at risk.

The hilarious part of Holda's statements comes when she refers to "the eastern part of lighthouse road" Presumably she refers to the northbound lane..yea right. Hey Cyndy..Lighthouse road generally travels north-south, not east-west. You, madam, continue to remain an embarrassment to this Seashore. Might I suggest you take some time off from advancing your agenda and actually educating yourself about how things work here? Or perhaps as you suggested to Bob Eakes, a shop owner that's been in business here for 30 odd years, you're young enough to find another line of work. That might work better for all of us. I still won't forgive for not moving the turtle nests I called you about years ago that NPS ended up plowing into the sea because they drowned.

And Kurt, with respect, next time you want to find out what's actually going on here, as in the Seashore, I suggest you talk to someone who knows. By the by, NPS would not be my first choice.

The National Parks Traveler article can be found here: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2011/11/high-water-table-wetlands-causing-flooding-cape-hatteras-national-seashore9010

Tight lines,

Wheat

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Update On The Flooding Situation At 43-44 And The Campground

Well folks, since my last post we still have issues with standing water and hoards of mosquitoes in the same areas as before which has again been compounded by the NPS refusal to protect this area and the residents and visitors of CHNSRA by rebuilding the ocean dune structure along this area.

The net effect of their inaction and excuses has created many an issue for visitors and residents as mentioned before, but it also serves to deny pedestrian access an this area as the small parking lots have remained flooded.

Another concern of course is that anyone traversing these flooded areas on foot are going to be exposed to coliform bacteria. And the more evaporation that occurs, the greater the concentrations and the greater the likelihood of  disease being transmitted to both humans and animals.

So I went out again equipped with the camera to record this prime example of dysfunctional NPS management. Interestingly, the water levels had receded quite a bit since yesterday which I found rather odd considering how long and how deeply this area has been flooded.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that NPS had cut drains to move water from the parking lots to another area that generally remains somewhat dry.


 Here is the drain cut this morning.

Heavy equipment track by the drain.

Well at least explains why some of the water is gone. What it doesn't explain is why now and why did it take so long for these people to get up and do something?

Of course the campground is still somewhat flooded and horribly loaded with mosquitoes. I was overwhelmed within seconds to take this picture. Note the deer..they poop where the go, into the water or not.


So, it looked like to me that NPS was finally trying to clear the ramps and parking lots though at the time I was there, more needed drained though it was flowing out, albeit slowly, during my visit. There is still a ways to go.

Underwater parking available at the fish cleaning station complete with the NPS mandated "preserve sightscapes" orange dumpster.

The road leading to the pedestrian parking by ramp 43.

As you can see. there is a lot more outflow that needs to flow occur before they become open for safe access for pedestrians and available for parking for the visiting public.

In a phone conversation that started only minuets after I returned home, the question as to why now, why after all this time has NPS finally acted? The answer was short and simple, "it's because this is ""Wings Over Water"" weekend". The weekend that members of the very organizations who want this Seashore shut down to a "normal" visitor, flock to the islands to watch shorebirds and migrating waterfowl. The very people who have brought lawsuits against NPS to curtail access to CHNSRA for all but themselves. The same people who a few years ago were given keys to the otherwise closed campground while access through same to ramp 45 was not allowed for anyone else.

So in the end, this is not just one more example of incompetence on the part of NPS, but also a glaring show of outright prejudice against the majority of visitors to these public lands.

Once again I'm disgusted and outraged.

Tight Lines,

Wheat

(Authors note: if you're interested in my rebuttal to Kurt Repanshecks 11/11/11 article in his National Parks Traveller article, it's available here, as he obviously wont publish it..) http://wheatseyeonhatterasislandnc.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Was Asked A Question

Sometimes it seems as though if I sit back and wait long enough, the National Park Service will yet again create a situation, or allow a situation to occur, that boggles the mind. In fact, when it comes to how this region is managed by both NPS and USFWS, at least for those of us that pay attention to the details, the reality of same can be staggering.

The other day, during discussions regarding the incredible mosquito outbreak here on Hatteras Island, I was asked by my good friend Kim, a very talented local artist, "why is it that this Seashore is so poorly managed and why does NPS let it fall apart like they do?"

That, of course, is a question I cannot answer because it makes no sense to me either. Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area is the nations first National Seashore and to date is the only National Seashore Recreational Area in this vast country we call home. Visitors arrive here from all over the United States, Canada and even Europe. What they find upon arrival is becoming an embarrassment to the people of this nation as it becomes increasingly obvious that NPS neither cares for this area and is intent upon the idea of driving humans away from a resource that they have been told by congress to develop for recreational use as needed.

I think it is a fair assumption that in order to follow the stated direction of congress, NPS would be required to maintain this Seashore and its regions for the purpose of recreational use as directed.

As many are aware, at the end of August this year, Hurricane Irene took a long slow voyage through the Pamlico Sound which ended up dumping about six and a half inches of rain here in Buxton, the "elbow" of Hatteras Island. This is the point where the island turns Southwest and terminates at Hatteras Inlet, separating Hatteras from Ocracoke Island. because of the way the storm passed, the southern end of the island fared reasonably well though our neighbors to the north, Avon, Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo were hit with extreme soundside flooding which came with such force it destroyed significant sections of our lifeline, N.C. 12, wiped out many homes and businesses and even broke through or flowed over the ocean side dunes.

What compounded the issue was a low pressure system, that for a time, was stuck on the Great Lakes which drew a significant amount of moisture up from the Gulf of Mexico. Adding insult to injury, another low formed off of the coast of Florida as the front moved East. The result was that Buxton, alone, received over two feet of rain in one month.

And then came the amazing swarms of mosquitoes, many of which were Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, known carriers of the West Nile Virus.

An assault by spraying was initiated by Dare County which had some effect but within days another "hatch" would occur and we were back to square one.

What was appalling, and still is, concerns the flooding of the area around the NPS managed campground near Cape Point and the road leading to that area and ramps 43 and 44.

This is not a new issue by any means. It has in fact, been a point of contention between residents of Hatteras Island, visitors to our incredible resource, and NPS since Hurricane Isabel, Sept. 18th 2003. Many times visitors and residents alike, have complained about this consistent flooding to NPS who promptly turn a blind eye to the situation. It has in fact been the subject of many a discussion an various and sundry internet forums and yet nothing has been done.

For years, the blame for this ongoing issue has been placed upon the shoulders of Jan De Blieu who works for the North Carolina Coastal Federation and stories of lawsuits connected with this flooding and the demise of the maritime forest all seem to have ended up in her lap.

Something just didn't seem to add up in this explanation so I took the opportunity to call Ms. De Blieu so I would have an explanation from "both sides" of the issue. As it turns out, though it can sill be said that there are "two sides" to this issue, Jan De Blieu isn't one of them, instead, with no surprise, the other side is the National Park Service.

Since Hurricane Isabel, a once healthy maritime forest has been flooded and essentially destroyed, turning it into a swamp and an obvious haven and breeding ground for mosquitoes. Another side effect of this action has been the inundation of the campground at Cape Point though now it seems that the latest excuse for not draining the area is according to Mike Murray "we don't drain wetlands". Prior to that the issue was coliform bacteria, aka E coli, that supposedly prevented responsible management and maintenance of this area. Sometime around 2005/2006 I proposed that NPS either buy or lease a portable water treatment unit which, as I remember, was capable of treating upwards of 6000 gallons per hour and would have allowed for the safe discharge of fluids either into the sound or the ocean but that.of course, has never been considered.

To give the reader an idea of how serious this problem can become, I present a couple of photos taken after the major rain event and it's effects. Credits go to myself and Kim Mosher who took the campground photo (the 2nd).




As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of water here, enough that even the wind can move it with ease. You might also notice in the wake left by the truck, that the color of the water is a "tea brown" caused by rotting vegetation. The part that's missing is the stench and the inordinate number of mosquitoes which are breeding in these waters and the obvious threat to human health. Not just from the mosquitoes, but from the septic system at the campground which could easily float, the bacteria contained therin, and the threat to the aquifer that both residents and visitors to this island rely upon for fresh water as our supply comes from the wells established here and not upon water pumped from up north. (meaning Nags Head and points beyond)

The blame for this issue is not Jan De Blieu's but rests squarely in the lap of NPS. The issue she raised back in 2003 was that NPS had constructed drains to allow water from the ocean overwash as a result of Hurricane Isabel without applying for an emergency permit from the North Carolina Department of Water Quality. Shortly after Isabel hit the island, Ms. De Blieu flew over the island to survey the impact and discovered these new drains, then contacted the state to inquire about the permits which are required by law. As it turns out NPS and Superintendent Larry Belli had never applied for the permits and had taken matters into their own hands.

The concern of course was that significant amounts of E.Coli bacteria would be entering the ocean which could infect fishes and swimmers coming into contact with these waters. NPS also neglected to post warning signs of this hazard as they are required to do. So without further ado, here is a picture of this drainage in the works, post Isabel, 2003.



As you can see, that's some rather nasty looking stuff headed south and was one of apparently three drains cut by NPS to deal with the flooding.

So let's stop blaming someone who was just doing her job and put the fault where it belongs. What's happening at the Seashore rests clearly within NPS responsibility and of late, we've seen yet another glaring example of the services' intentional mismanagement of our trust and the area we gave them to protect.

It's sadly ironic that NPS claims that they must close vast areas of our recreational area to, as they advertise, "preserve for future generations" while at the same time, they destroy a maritime forest, which by law they are required to preserve, and so blatantly create and preserve public health hazards that can serve no real purpose other than to drive residents and visitors away from our treasured resource.

The fact is, NPS could obtain a permit to drain this area if they applied for an emergency permit from the NCDWQ. Obviously, they're not interested and would rather drive us away and subject the residents and visitors to potential infections of West Nile Virus. Not to mention the damage done by this standing water to public vehicles, which by the way, include those driven by NPS as we own them too.

Well Mr. Murray, you may not drain wetlands that your service created in violation of federal law, but I warrant that you will be hard pressed to define the paved road leading to Cape Point as a wetland. Furthermore, considering the decades of photographic evidence showing this area as being rather dry, especially the road and campground area, I doubt you'll have much luck there either.

Since neither you nor your propaganda minister, Ms. Holda, seem to be able to properly manage this Seashore, might I suggest you apply for a position in Alaska counting Polar Bears? At least there you could have just about all the "primitive wilderness" you could care to.

Well, I'm done with my rant but I still cant answer Kim's question. Why is the Park Service letting this Seashore become so degraded?

Tight Lines,

A very ticked off Wheat.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Last Comment On the Proposed Rule

National Park Service 9/19/11


Mike Murray

Superintendent

Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Recreational Area)

1401 National Park Drive

Manteo, North Carolina

27954

Re: (RIN) 1024-AD85

In this correspondence I submit additional comment relative to the National Park Service (NPS or the “service”) proposed rule (RIN) 1024-AD85.

On September 6th, 2011 NPS announced that the service had extended the public comment period pertaining to (RIN) 1024-AD85 aka the proposed new “rule”, until midnight September 19th 2011 in order to accommodate those that may have been affected by Hurricane Irene.

Hurricane Irene struck the Outer Banks of North Carolina on the 27th of August however, NPS waited until the 6th of September to announce an extension of the public comment period, the last day comment was supposed to be accepted. Almost immediately, NPS received many thousands of comments which were simple “cut and paste” copies of an “action alert” published by Jason Rylander, an attorney for the Defenders of Wildlife; one of the environmental organizations which have for years has sought to severely restrict and ultimately disallow, ORV and pedestrian access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. (As defined within 16USC459 sec.3)

I am certain that NPS is aware of the source of these “cut and paste” comments which are repetitive and designed to do nothing than to “stack the deck” against those that live, work on, and visit these islands with the intention of enjoying our public lands as congress directed NPS to facilitate.

What is alarming is that NPS accepts these comments in spite of the fact that they do not fulfill the basic requirements set forth by the service regarding comment submission. The service made it very clear within the instructions for comment submission that all comments must contain two items. On the first instant, NPS declares that all comment must be addressed to either NPS or the National Park Service, on the second; all comments must contain the rule identification number (RIN) 1024-AD85.

As per NPS:

“Comments submitted through Federal eRulemaking Portal:http://www.regulations.gov or submitted by mail must be entered or postmarked before midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) September 19, 2011.

Comments submitted by hand delivery must be received by the close of business hours (5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time) on September 19, 2011.

Comments will not be accepted by fax, email, or in any way other than those specified above, and bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.

All submissions must include the words “National Park Service” or “NPS” and


must include the identifying number 1024-AD85.(emphasis added) Comments received through the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov will be available on the regulations.gov web site, usually without change. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment -- including your personal identifying information -- may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. To view comments received through the Federal eRulemaking portal, go to http://www.regulations.gov and enter 1024-AD85 in the Keyword or ID search box.”

As such, by the services own requirements for comment submission, all comment received through this “cut and paste” effort, which fail to comply with the above mentioned requirements, need disallowed and should be rejected. If NPS won’t follow its own rules, the service has no right to expect the owners of this seashore, the American people, to do so either.

In addition, NPS claims within its federal register announcement of the proposed “final rule” that one of the endangered species that makes this “rule” necessary is Seabeach Amaranth. However, the service announced recently (2010) that this plant species was extirpated, aka, “locally extinct” within the Seashore. The service then went on to explain that it could take up to five years before any seeds remaining from the previous generations of the Amaranth might germinate.

The proposed rule which is based upon “Alternative F”, found within the NPS published Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Recreational Area) Final Environmental Impact Statement (NPS 2010), speaks of reintroduction of this plant species to the Seashore. This proposal will of course involve the creation of what NPS deems suitable habitat and is likely to result in further beach closures and loss of traditional access to the American public within our lands, and at the public’s expense.

I find it odd that NPS is willing to adapt habitat for an extirpated species of plants and yet is so unwilling to modify other previously proven successful habitat so that avian species such as the barely threatened Piping Plover and other assorted non threatened, non endangered species might thrive without impeding public access to our Seashore. Superintendant Murray was recently quoted in reference to modifying habitat around the dredge pond near Cape Point, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. This area, having been previously and successfully modified for avian habitat will not be considered by NPS as an option. Murray was quoted (relative to current habitat) as saying, “it is where it is”.

Well Mr. Murray, if you propose to create habitat for a plant, then you must consider modifying habitat for avian species as well. This is especially true considering your congressional mandate to develop this area for recreational use, else all you do is end up developing and furthering an agenda to remove the American people from their beaches which results in a breach of federal law and the public trust.

Jeffrey Golding

Buxton, North Carolina

Sunday, September 11, 2011

NPS Screws Us Again!

Howdy folks. A quick reminder that public comments for the new "rule" are due by midnight on the 19th of this month.

This is a simple process that will take only a little of your time. Feel free to use any information you may find in my blog though I'd appreciate it if you put that information into your own words.

To make comment, go to this website: http://www.regulations.gov and enter “1024-AD85” in the “Keyword or ID” search box, click on submit comment and then proceed to write. EASY!:)

In accordance with the directions provided by NPS for submitting comment, ALL comments must be addressed to either the National Park Service or NPS and include the full rule identifying number (RIN) 1024-AD85.

Here is part of the NPS press release I received from Cyndy Holda on 9/9/2011.

"All submissions must include the words “National Park Service” or “NPS” and
must include the identifying number 1024-AD85.  Comments received through
the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov will be
available on the regulations.gov web site, usually without change.  Before
including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal
identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your
entire comment -- including your personal identifying information -- may be
made publicly available at any time.  While you can ask us in your comment
to withhold your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that
we will be able to do so.  To view comments received through the Federal
eRulemaking portal, go to http://www.regulations.gov and enter 1024-AD85 in
the Keyword or ID search box."

So how is NPS screwing us again?

It seems that as I stated in my last post, the extension given for comment submission was not done for those of us affected by the hurricane but in order to give the "darkside" time to get their folks "on the bus". Ample evidence of this is the astounding number of comments received by NPS since the original deadline expired at midnight on 9/6/12.

When I submitted my comment, there were just over 4000 comments that had been received by NPS; a number which has miraculously grown by over 10,000 in the last few days.

The source of these comments, which are all virtually identical, is an action alert published by the tax dollar sucking Defenders of Wildlife and their uninformed and uneducated minions.

Of course since NPS is so busy sucking up to these people, they ignore their own set of published rules for submitting comment which as shown above, CLEARLY state  "All submissions must include the words “National Park Service” or “NPS” and
must include the identifying number 1024-AD85."

Clearly NPS is attempting to stack the deck in favor of these anti access groups and will use this as justification to ram this rule down our throats which will destroy a historical way of life that predates the existence of the Seashore, obliterate an economy reeling already from these extraordinary closures, with the ultimate goal of running everybody off the islands.

Please take the time to make comment and help save access to your Seashore!

Information about what's going on here can be found at:

www.islandfreepress.org

www.obpa.org

www.ncbba.org

And of course this blog.

I'm extremely pissed and you should be too!

Tight Lines,

Wheat

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Notes On The extension Of The Public Comment Period

As many of you are aware, the National Park Service extended the deadline for public comment regarding their new proposed rule for management of Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, RIN 1024-AD85 which will serve to severely, and unlawfully, restrict ORV and pedestrian access to our public beaches.

NPS claims in a press release issued by Cyndy Holda, Superintendent Mike Murray's generally and historically ill-informed "public affairs specialist", that this extension was proffered so that those that "might" have been effected by Hurricane Irene, have more time to write and submit their public comments on this absurd collection of draconian measures which serve no purpose other than to severely limit access to our beaches and drive the economies of these two amazing islands into the ground.

Make no mistake about it my friends, this extension was, in all likelihood, granted because the supporters of the Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Southern Environmental Law Center have not been able to garner the support they wish and subsequently overwhelm NPS with comment opposing access of any form. Remember that all of about 30 of the comments rejected by NPS during the public comment period regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement were from the Wilderness Society and came in the form of rarely altered form letters and totalled close to 16,470 rejected comments.

This extension was not granted for the people of the Islands or the visiting public!

This is why it is so important that we continue to work together to support free and open access to our beaches until sound and lawfully peer reviewed science can demonstrate that access to this Seashore is harming the resource. Which to date, has never been shown. The terms oft used by the environmental groups, "could have, might have, possibly" etc are not sound science and they continue to believe their “right to be mistaken” excuses precise and competent scientific analysis for actions they know will wreak havoc upon the right of the American public to visit this, our Seashore, as well as the economies of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.

Therefore, it is imperative that you take the time to submit comment and support your right of access and egress to these amazing beaches.

Comment will be accepted until midnight 9/19/11 electronically or needs postmarked by midnight of that date.

All comments MUST include the rule identification number (RIN 1024-AD85) and be addressed to either NPS or preferably, the National Park Service in order to not be rejected.

This gives us yet another chance to express our dismay at the proposed unfounded rules that NPS seeks to put in place. Take advantage of it please! You can bet your bottom dollar the "darkside " will.

Instructions on how and where to post your comment can be found at:

www.obpa.org

www.ncbba.org

www.islandfreepress.org

Also, links to view the submitted comments can be found there also; perusal of which will reveal just how ignorant many of the "darkside" submitters are about this amazing place.

That's all for the moment. I'll likely be back on in a while to give note on progress made to restore access to the Island.

Tight Lines,

Wheat

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Comment On NPS Final Rule, Proposed

To: Michael B. Murray,

Superintendent,

Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Recreational Area)

1401 National Park Drive

Manteo, North Carolina

27954

Re: National Park Service Proposed Rule (RIN 1024-AD85)



Mr. Murray,



I write to you this day and submit my public comment relative to the new proposed "rule" intended to govern the use by the public of Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area authorized by Congress in the year 1937 and finally established by the National Park Service (NPS or the "service") in 1953 after some, but not all of the lands currently constituting the "Seashore" were acquired by the Department of the Interior in order to satisfy the requirements established primarily within 16 USC 459 sec.3.



As the proposed rule stands, it blatantly violates the "Enabling Legislation" 16 USC 459 sec. 3, (1937) authorizing the establishment of the "Seashore" (hereafter referred to as the Seashore or CHNSRA) as well as the "Redwoods Amendment" 16 USC 459 sec. 1a-1 of 1978.



I therefore reject and vehemently oppose most all of the provisions set forth in this proposed "rule" for the reasons outlined below as most are based upon either flawed science, a lack of science, studies conducted with a predetermined outcome, and in many cases, studies that are out of date or have been peer reviewed by the authors of same which violates peer review protocol and in many cases, federal law.



It is apparent that NPS doesn't quite understand, at least in this instance, that it is the right of the congress to dispose of public property, not the Park Service. In fact, that privilege does not even extend to the President of the United States as per our Constitution. Though congress has given NPS the ability to establish needful rules and regulations, at no time has the law provided NPS with the ability to lawfully execute this sort of action in an instance where such an action would be in violation of federal law extant. Nor does law exist that gives the ability to NPS to ignore regulation enacted by congress and signed into law by the President. However, relative to CHNSRA, that is precisely what NPS intends to do if RIN 1024-AD85 is put into place.



Case and point is 16 USC 459 sec.3 which declares quite succinctly that the Seashore is to be developed "as needed" for recreational use. And that the "service" hold the remaining portion of the area in "reserve" until it is needed for it's intended purpose, that of a recreational area; providing that is adaptable and needed for recreation. Congress set no limit on the areas that can be developed for recreational use within the seashore, nor did they limit what form of recreational use could take place. Except to say "swimming, sailing, fishing, boating and other recreational activities of a similar nature, which shall be developed for such uses as needed". Unfortunately for the American public, NPS seeks to change the meaning of this legislative passage by interpreting the verbiage in the sentence following as though it said that the remaining portion of the area is to be permanently preserved when it does in fact state "permanently reserved" instead. The understanding of the use of the word "reserved" in this instance is the key to realizing the intent of congress and the enabling legislation as a whole. It is, after all, the use of the word "reserved" that enables the development of the Seashore for recreational use as needed and clearly establishes recreational use to be the primary purpose of this area, not preservation of wildlife or primitive wilderness as NPS would have the public believe. Though the last portion of the single paragraph that comprises 16 USC 459 sec.3 does contain the words "and no development or undertaking for the convenience of visitors may take place that would be incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora, fauna and physiographic conditions now prevailing in this area"; this clearly applies only to such areas held in "reserve" until they are needed for recreational development and use as stipulated by congress.



Another blatant example of the disregard that NPS has for congressional law deals with the obvious intent of the "service" to violate provisions set forth by congress within 16 USC 459 sec. 1a-1 otherwise known as the Redwoods Amendment. Here the congress clearly informs NPS that they are not to conduct any activity that would result in significant derogation of the mission established by congress for this area unless and until the "service" has "direct and specific authorization by congress" to do so. The proposed new rule as proffered by NPS will in fact dramatically alter previous management policy (pre- 2008 Consent Decree for the Seashore) and will in fact limit recreational opportunity severely, resulting in derogation of the mission established for this area. Contained within the 2010 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) as published by NPS, is a statement by the "service" which explains that the Redwoods Amendment was intended to enhance section 1 of the "Organic Act" but not intended to institute separate management policies. Though both of these statements are true, NPS willfully ignores the fact that it is the individual "enabling legislations" that dictate how various areas are to be managed and developed, and that without the aforementioned "direct and specific" authorization from congress to do so, the "service has no legal authority to implement the proposed new "rule".



Furthermore, at no time in our nation’s history has the Congress given the NPS the ability or legal authority to regulate commerce outside of the bounds of the areas for which it is responsible. The implementation of RIN 1024 AD85 aka the "rule", will have that effect much the same way the Consent Decree of 2008 has done. That same decree has been an enormous factor in the downturn of the economies of both Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. Some sixty businesses have failed since the inception of the decree and its immense beach closures. And also, some 400 homes (and counting) are now in foreclosure on the islands. The proposed new "rule" will exacerbate this problem further by denying the American public access to beaches by Off Road Vehicle (ORV) use for a significant and fiscally important portion of the year, upon which our economy is largely based. The proposed closures outlined within the "rule" will serve, and have with the Consent Decree alone, already served, to drive the visitors upon which our economy is based, to seek recreational opportunity elsewhere. Proof of this may be found across the internet at various sites which deal with visitation to the Seashore and perusal of same will repeatedly reveal former visitors stating that they have no intention of returning to the area if NPS implements this "rule" as intended. As such, NPS unlawfully limits commerce on the islands by depriving visitors, the majority of which operate ORVs on our beaches, from access to the Seashore in areas which have been traditionally and lawfully accessed before, and since, the Seashore was established in 1953. In addition, NPS will deprive local commercial fishermen their congressional guarantee of right of access to our beaches, upon which their livelihood depends. This further demonstrates an attempt at regulation of commerce by the "service". This regulation comes in many forms but all points to the same agenda which is to limit access.



For someone that lives on Hatteras Island and has experienced the effects of the Consent Decree, I have extraordinary difficulty understanding where the NPS purported two million odd visitors have been every year since 2008. I have never seen our beaches so empty in all the years before, and after, I moved to Hatteras Island. Nor have I seen the beaches so thoroughly inaccessible due to various resource closures. Just where are all of these people Mr. Murray? If NPS is relying upon the traffic counter at Whalebone Junction to accumulate this data, the number might make sense. But then every delivery vehicle, law enforcement, or emergency vehicle, every resident’s car or truck that goes off island to shop is counted at least twice. As an example, there are two companies that provide bagged and block ice to the islands virtually every day beginning in the spring and running through the fall fishing season. There are routinely at least three UPS trucks on Hatteras Island every day which alone would count for six visitors based upon the technology utilized by the "service" It doesn't take much thought to understand how quickly those numbers will add up, and that fails to include the other delivery, service, transit, local, and assorted other vehicles including those that belong to NPS that pass that point every day. A classic example of how NPS has skewed visitation numbers to present figures that would lean toward the "agenda" is when the "service" sponsored economic impact study went to consider visitation in the summer. Beach access ramp 43 was chosen over the considerably more oft utilized beach access ramp 44, only a couple of hundred yards away. That alone serves as a prime example of NPS again violating federal law and even executive order by not presenting to the public sound science; nor was this supposed data available for public comment in a timely manner as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. (NEPA).



NPS has proposed the creation of "Vehicle Free Areas" (VFA's) which are in conflict with both executive orders 11644 (Nixon 1972) and also 11989 (Carter 1977). Within both E.O.'s NPS was given six months to determine which areas of (in this case the Seashore) would remain open and which areas would be closed to ORV traffic. In both cases, NPS determined that the entire Seashore should remain open to vehicular access. This determination was made again in 1978 when an Interim Management Strategy (IMS) for management of the Seashore was promulgated with NPS and local input. This same IMS was used and implemented by former superintendent Belli, with the exception of fee or permit based access and served as "service" policy until the promulgation of the 2007 IMS under current superintendent Murray which recognized the use of virtually all of the Seashores beaches that were considered safely accessible; excepting seasonal closures which occurred in front of the villages for reasons of pedestrian safety during the busy summer months. (The superintendent again did not institute a fee or permit policy.) As such, by default, NPS recognized that the traditional routes of egress and transport were acceptable and not detrimental to the resource, and allowed same for almost 40 years, which does not include the many years of public vehicular use prior to the authorization and ultimately the establishment of CHNSRA in 1953. This was also substantiated by the Unites States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) when they issued a Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI) prior to the 2007 IMS being issued and recorded in the Federal Register.



It is also true that contained within E.O. 11989 (Carter 1977) is a caveat wherein the Superintendent must show , prior to closing an ORV route or "trail", that use of said route either is causing or will cause significant adverse impact to the resource, which no superintendent of this Seashore has ever been capable of doing. Therefore, the proposed VFA's and permanent year round closures of Bodie Island Spit, the South end of Hatteras, aka "False Point", the Northeast end of Ocracoke Island, and the area known as South Point, also on Ocracoke, are both arbitrary and capricious and in violation of E.O. 11989. If NPS is so vehement about obeying the respective E.O.'s as they state they are, then they must obey all of the established requirements, not just those that seek to limit access to our Public Lands. It should also be pointed out that in accordance with 16 USC 459, the land overlaid by the as of yet congressionally approved wildlife refuge known as PEA Island National Wildlife Refuge, is by law, very much a part of CHNSRA and contains near 13 miles of previously established VFA which visitors to that area may, and do, already enjoy; and remains uncontested in that no attempt at restoring ORV access to this area has been mounted.. Until the congress deems this as a separate entity apart from CHNSRA, it remains part of the Seashore and as described within the law extant, and by law, is the responsibility of NPS to maintain and must be so recognized to include species nesting numbers.

Though NPS maintains that this area is not within their realm of management (which by law is untrue), and until the "service" can prove that nesting, regardless of species, is determined not by an ecosystem as a whole, but by imaginary man made geographical boundaries, the species that choose to nest on Pea Island need counted as part of the Seashores overall populations. The same would hold true for Cora June Island which is located just a few hundred yards from Hatteras Island, by the Ferry Channel.



Other issues with the proposed VFA designation include the following. As written, mobility impaired individuals such as myself will lose access to significant portions of the Seashore as without transport, I, and others, will have no means to transit the dune line with our equipment in order to enjoy our beaches. This would be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and it is discriminatory. Vehicular egress to the beaches in the proposed VFA's will require that mobility impaired persons will only be allowed access in front of the villages and not in other VFA areas away from same. Requiring a vehicle operator to drop off a mobility impaired individual and return to an ORV access point poses a safety hazard in the event of injury, storms or even something as simple as the need to use restroom facilities. NPS also operates under the assumption that someone who drops off a mobility impaired individual will have access to parking and able to access their vehicle in a safe and timely manner in order to assist the needs of the disabled individual. NPS also assumes that the person who "drops off: a mobility impaired individual are themselves capable of making the long trek back to the point where said individual was left. This will preclude many elderly persons from access to the proposed VFA. As someone who is 45% permanently disabled, and with no "chauffeur", I am therefore automatically disallowed from accessing many miles of beach that I and thousands of others have used for the traditional recreational activities outlined in the enabling legislation (16 USC 459 sec. 3), without harm or impairment to this treasured resource. Attention must also be drawn to the fact that the current, albeit undesignated VFA's within the bounds of the Seashore are the most underutilized areas of this beach system. One needs look no farther than the area beginning just north of beach access ramp 43 and extending to the old lighthouse location which, day in and day out remains unused; as photographic documentation has proven over this last year. This same phenomenon can be discovered in most of the ocean area between the villages of Frisco and Hatteras as well as the vast majority of the beaches found on Ocracoke Island, throughout the year.

VFA's should only be imposed if it is found by the superintendant that they are necessary to protect the pedestrian visitor and the proposed rule should allow this flexibility. The area just north of beach access ramp 43, as described above, which has gone almost entirely unused by pedestrian visitors should have, and could have, been open to ORV use for the entire year.

In sum, the VFA proposal is in conflict with both E.O. 11644 and 11989, the ADA, ignores the 13 miles of VFA on Pea Island, and will serve no other purpose other than to limit visitor access to our public beaches in conflict with 16 USC 459 sec.3 and the Redwoods Amendment. (16 USC 459 sec 1a-1)

It should also be pointed out that as the congress amended the enabling legislation in 1940 and formally changed the name of the Seashore to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, it was stated that this area was set aside for the enjoyment and benefit of the American people; not "some" or "a few" but all.



The proposed VFA's will also serve to inspire user conflict and create resentment among user groups. Many individuals that visit the Seashore via ORV will, and already have become angry as they discover that the proposed access fee for ORV use is being used to pay for the infrastructure to support these VFA's while at the same time denying them access to those same areas. NPS policy dictates that the service is to minimize user conflict, not inspire it; which is in fact, beginning already.

Within the proposed rule, NPS claims that it seeks to mitigate fiscal impact upon the economy of the islands by the proposed VFA's, and seeks to construct additional parking areas. Alternative F of the FEIS upon which this rule is based, informs that the public that 130 odd new parking spots will be constructed along the ocean side of the Seashore in order to facilitate visitor access along with sundry supportive infrastructure. Assuming that NPS figures of two million odd visitors to the Seashore is even remotely close to being accurate, how is it that 136 new parking spots can possibly handle this volume of visitors? Especially since the majority of these new parking spots are to be located on Ocracoke Island and not on Hatteras Island where the majority of visitation occurs? This is nothing more than a thinly and poorly veiled effort by NPS to severely limit access to the Seashore. It is the words of Sandy Hamilton, an NPS employee who was involved in the failed Negotiated Rulemaking process that echo in my mind. Her statement (referring to NPS) "that as long as we leave a small area open for access, we have fulfilled the recreational mission of the Seashore" apparently sets the tone for the current and proposed actions by the "service". Apparently she never read, and is incapable of understanding the enabling legislation.



The fee based ORV access system proposed by NPS is discriminatory as it requires one user group to fund the infrastructure used by another. NPS proposes this system in a purported effort to recover the costs of yet to be constructed beach access ramps, parking areas, walkovers, and restroom facilities for pedestrian visitors within VFA's, but currently has no idea as to what the cost for this infrastructure will be, or the costs of the permits necessary to do so. Currently, NPS has no funding to construct any of its proposed "improvements" and no idea of how long these so called improvements will take to construct. NPS has repeatedly demonstrated through the years that proper maintenance of the resources found within the Seashore is not something that the "service" is competent performing. Examples of this incompetence and fiscal mismanagement can be found in various areas of the Seashore. For example, the septic system at the Cape Point Campground which NPS has known for years needs upgraded, Bodie Island lighthouse which now stands as a dysfunctional eyesore, the mess that NPS created during the improvement of beach access ramp 44, the closure of the interdunal road extending from ramp 45 to ramp 49 in Frisco, the poor condition of the access road leading to ramp 49, and many others. A glaring example of these poor practices existed for many years in the form of a pothole at the entrance to ramp 44 which caused drivers to have to swerve into oncoming traffic exiting the beach from that ramp, in order to avoid damaging their tires and suspension.



Further objection to this proposed permit and user fee system deals with the fact that the American taxpayer already funds the NPS and will require that a segment of the population be taxed yet again for something they have been taxed for previously. Though I'm certain that his comment will fall on deaf ears, I insist that this fee based permit system as proposed by NPS be inexpensive or free of charge, as to not further burden the economy of the islands and harm the residents of same. An expensive fee based system will have the effect of driving visitors away from the Seashore and to other destinations. It is also true that establishing load capacity requirements will have the same effect as it is likely that any visitor who comes to the Seashore will find themselves unable to access the beaches that he or she just paid to visit and will never return again. NPS should not establish a system that is dependent upon sheer luck and timing to allow a visitor access to our beaches. And before the "service" begins to collect fees for ORV access, all of the proposed beach access ramps and interdunal roads should have already been constructed so that a meaningful figure for said permits can be established else said fees will be tantamount to outright theft.

NPS also sets forth a requirement that visitors attend a class about ORV use prior to the issuance of the proposed permit as well as setting forth requirements for equipment needed to access our beaches. I find this objectionable on several fronts. First of all, having driven on these beaches for thirty odd years without ever having been stuck, I don't need a class to tell me how to traverse these sands. I would submit that this is true for the majority of residents of the islands, of which I am one, as well as a significant number of visitors. In fact, on a per capita basis, I have personally spent more time digging out stuck NPS vehicles than I ever have visitors. I have also discovered that by in large, NPS vehicles do not carry the basic equipment that the "service" will require a visitor to carry. This raises an obvious question. How are a group of people, NPS employees, who are notorious for getting stuck in the often soft sands of our beaches, qualified to instruct other drivers how to negotiate the beach? In addition, the requirement for a jack and jack stand as set forth in the proposed rule, will not help anyone who happens to be stuck; particularly in wet or soft sands, and will pose yet another unreasonable financial burden upon the visiting public as well as residents of the islands; likely resulting in many visitors making the choice to never return. A considerably more cost effective alternative which would facilitate continued visitation without burden, would be to make the proposed permits free of charge and available online as well as in the various tackle shops and realty offices, much the same way the current Consent Decree required night driving permits are handled. In addition, more effective signage at the various access ramps would go a long way to provide important information to the visiting public. This would also eliminate the need for additional NPS staff, the need for physical structures to station staff to check permits, and in turn reduce the fiscal liability of the "service" and financial demand upon the American taxpayer.

As I mentioned earlier, the proposed rule will also have an impact upon local commercial fishermen as they ply their trade from the beaches of the Seashore. Though NPS does allow traditional access for these hardworking individuals within the proposed VFA's, there is no mention of access to the inlets and spits upon which these individuals depend to ply their trade and feed their families. This access should be allowed as was mandated by congress within 16 USC 459. In addition, the requirement that these fishermen be able to provide a copy of a receipt to a local "fish house", not older than thirty days, ignores the reality that commercial fishing is a seasonal trade. A prime example of this is those licensed fishermen who practice their trade during the fall months during the mullet run. They cannot possibly cast for mullet until the run begins which is determined not by the calendar, but by the mullet. To deny them the right to fish simply because they have no recent receipt, is to deny them the right to fish altogether. This portion of the proposed rule should be discarded as it poses an unfair burden upon these individuals and violates the tenants set forth within the lawfully enacted legislation authorizing the creation of the Seashore. Any local resident, with a valid commercial license, should be allowed to fish, whether it is their first day, or their last of the season, and without prior receipt. NPS also fails to define the term "fish house". Many of the licensed fall netters do not sell to a "fish house" as their catch is intended to be used as bait for licensed recreational fishermen and charter vessels and is subsequently sold to tackle shops instead of a "fish house", who also carry license to deal in legally procured fish stocks.

I also object to the proposed ban on night driving on our beaches for the majority of the year. This ban is based upon supposition rather than sound science as is required by NEPA. Were the Seashore located in Florida where sea turtle nests average some 600 nests per mile, it might make sense. However, here at CHNSRA, NPS statistics show that on average, there are just over 1.3 nests per mile, and an average of one nest and one false crawl per night. Therefore the likely hood of an ORV encounter with a sea turtle is slim at best considering the roughly 73 miles of beach comprising these islands. Though it is true that a sea turtle was run over on Ocracoke Island in 2011, this tragedy occurred at a time when night driving was already prohibited as per the Consent decree.NPS shoves the blame for this unfortunate accident upon the shoulders of visitors to the Seashore claiming that no patrols were active that night. However, the "service" fails to acknowledge that the Consent Decree also requires that bird monitors be in position to observe piping plover behavior from sunrise to sundown and it is therefore likely that it was an NPS employee that caused the demise of this animal. If and when NPS can come up with sound, reasonable, lawfully peer reviewed science that shows definitively that a night driving ban is necessary, I will accept it. Until then, I vehemently object to this action. This again is addressed in E.O. 11989 wherein the superintendant must show considerable adverse effects before closing an ORV route to public access.

Additional objection to the proposed final rule including ALT F as described within the NPS published FEIS comes relative to the proposed size of buffers surrounding wildlife. In particular, the Piping Plover, charadrius melodus. These buffer recommendations stem from the Pawtuxet Protocols which have no scientific basis and, in addition, were largely peer reviewed by the authors in direct violation of United States Geological Service (USGS) peer review protocols rendering them unlawful. In addition, the buffers purported by NPS for non endangered or threatened species, are also excessive. Though species such as Least Terns, American Oystercatchers and the like are listed as "species of concern" by the state of North Carolina, within which the Seashore exists, Gordon Meyers, Chairman of the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, stated openly in his public comment to the NPS published Draft Environmental Impact statement (DEIS), that these birds did not need the level of protection proposed by NPS. In spite of which, NPS imposes them anyway, which serves no purpose other than to limit access to the Seashore and has resulted in tremendous economic harm to the islands communities.

NPS has also refused to consider this Seashore as a Traditional Cultural property in spite of the fact that it far exceeds the requirements set forth in the NEPA. Within which NPS is specifically instructed that TCP's do not only apply to Native American populations. Hence contacting the Tuscarora Nation to determine cultural significance of the area now considered the Seashore, once again NPS ignores the law and plays lip service to my community as well as the American public at large, in a clear effort to advance an agenda, limit access to our Seashore, and effectively destroy a traditional way of life and the communities which have served the public as well as the "service".

In closing, I am ashamed as an American citizen that NPS chooses to pursue such an action in defiance of the intent of congress and with such blatant violation of law extant. I am ashamed that I ever trusted Mike Murray, superintendant of this Seashore that I and a few thousand others call home. I am embarrassed that I took such pains to defend him against those who stated he would do greater harm to these islands than he did in Cape Cod. I am angry that my tax dollars are funding the destruction of a unique people and way of life that can only be experienced on these islands. I fear for my future and those people that constitute my island "family". It is a crime that through no fault of our own, a people that have cared for this resource since before the creation of the National Park Service and before the founding of this nation, should be so thoroughly tossed aside with such wanton disregard to their futures, their past, and the lives and futures of their children as well.

It is no small irony that the islands having just experienced the wrath of Hurricane Irene are now faced with the actions proposed by NPS which will have a far greater devastating effect for a much longer time than the storm could ever have done. At least we can rebuild after a hurricane. In time that storm becomes only a memory, albeit painful to many. What NPS intends will alter our lives forever.

Jeffrey Golding

Buxton, North Carolina

(Remaining personal information withheld for online submission)

CC:

Senator Richard Burr

Senator Kay Hagan

Congressman Walter B. Jones

NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis

NPS S.E. Regional Director David Vela

Brandon Middleton, Damien Schiff, Pacific Legal Foundation.

The Outer Banks preservation Assn.

North Carolina Beach Buggy Assn.

And assorted BCC.





.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Challenge To Recover

Hello friends. I know it's been a long time since I've posted and I was actually waiting until I had finished my public comment about the new NPS proposed rule before I did. Of course you'll see that shortly as the deadline for comment is midnight on the sixth of this month. If you havn't commented already, please do so. Information on how this can be done is to be found at www.obpa.org  www.ncbba.org and also www.islandfreepress.org  It is very important that all persons who care about access to our beaches submit comment and condemn this "plan" as it serves only to deny us access to our public lands and destroy the collective economies of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.

Today I write a plea for help.

As Hurricane Irene made it's way past the islands, it first blew the water in the Pamlico Sound over and onto the mainland which caused devastating flooding on top of the wind damage generated by hours and hours of sustained winds from a storm that moved at a pace seemingly similar to that of continental drift.

As it moved Northeast, all of the water that had piled up on the "backside" of the sound came rushing back on very heavy, sustained, Southwest winds and inundated the villages of Avon, Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo causing the loss of approximately 1100 homes and businesses. In many cases, some lost all but the clothes on their backs. And reports also suggest that the back surge, (the water returning) which I'm told topped 10' above ground level also took out something in the neighborhood of 90% of the vehicles that had to remain behind for one reason or another in the northern villages mentioned above.

In addition, Highway 12, the one lifeline that almost all of the islands residents depend on has been cut in at least five places rendering direct relief impossible. So supplies must come by ferry from Stumpy Point, N.C. which has been even more difficult because of shoaling in the sound and making passage for the two to three and a half ride, depending on where the Captain has to go, dependant on the high tide which occurs only twice a day.

In addition to the loss of the one road on and off the islands and the difficult ferry passage, that same route delivers most of the power to our homes and that too has been severely compromised. The Cape Hatteras Electric Co-op (CHEC) has ordered and installed several generators which are still working hard to handle the load needed to sustain those left on the islands which is one reason cited for not allowing residents that heeded the evacuation order to come home, Including myself.

But this isn't about me. It's about those still on the islands that need your help.

There are quite a few amazing people both on and off island that are going out of their way to help and to try and get supplies to those that remain. This has unfortunately been hindered by the powers that be who have placed the islands on virtual lockdown. I read today that emergency supplies were flown by helicopter to towns up north (New England) who were flooded by the rains from Irene but apparently no such assistance will be given to the residents of the Islands. Instead, the docks are blockaded by Federal officials and the airports are closed.

On top of that, the infamous environmental groups that have already caused so much harm to all of us have apparently filed an intent to sue in order to prevent the reconstruction of Highway 12 in spite of the fact that North Carolina owns the right of way.

This is a heinous act and needs to be fought as thoroughly and as humanly possible.

As for relief efforts, as usual, as many as can on the islands are providing relief but they need help. Many have joined in the effort to send supplies and have been actively attempting to have them delivered as soon as possible.

Of special note, is a fellow by the name of William Carter ( obx fishing on facebook) who has set up shop in Elizabeth City and partnered with Performance Chevrolet to collect and deliver supplies. Also working with him are Autumn Krozer and the staff at Dixie 105.7, all who have also worked tirelessly for beach access.

Other folks that are working hard include an interfaith group who can be reached at 252-475-5758 or 252-475-5759.

The Salvation Army is also involved in relief efforts.

Of course, Irene Nolan at www.islandfreepress.org  provides a great deal of information including plenty of photos taken by my friend Don Bowers which will help you understand what's happened to our home.

Help can also be given by calling the office of Governor Perdue and insisting that our road is reconstructed as soon as possible. The Army Corps of Engineers could span the breaches and have supplies delivered in short order. If they can do it in combat conditions, this should be a piece of cake. Phone: (800) 662-7952 or (919) 733-2391

Also Call Ken Salazars office, the Secretary of the Interior, and insist the same. Phone: (202) 208-3100

Lets put some pressure on these folks. Don't forget to call your elected representatives and make the same complaint.

In the mean time, please help if you can.

Tight Lines,

Wheat







Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just A Quick Note

Well friends, we're just about to the mark that leaves us only five weeks to compose and send comment to NPS regarding their final rule. They have already expressed no intention of a comment period extension due to their having failed to meet their April 1, 2011 deadline to have their "final rule" in place.

Interesting how NPS gets extensions and yet all of our extension requests have been denied.

What's important at this juncture is that you and everyone you can find, submit comment in favor of all access. Equally important is that your comment contain accurate information. I cannot stress the importance of looking to the access organizations and Island Free Press where you will find more, as well as this blog. You will also find instructions on how to submit your comment. Remember, during the comment period for the "Draft Environmental Impact Statement", 16,500 comments were rejected because they were submitted improperly.

The message is, get the facts, get involved, and then check your facts again before you comment.

http://www.obpa.org/

http://www.ncbba.org/

http://www.islandfreepress.org/

Thanks to all the folks that have been working very hard to get the word out to the People about this travesty.

I'll post again soon.

Tight Lines,

Wheat

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Freedom Comes With A Price.

Many as the hour I have spent working on the issues surrounding access and I guess it's finally caught up to me. I'm not quitting but I've been ordered to take a break and turn my active attentions elsewhere for a week or two until we can find out what put me in the emergency room in fear of my life yesterday. The thought is anxiety and stress cause all the tests came back with excellent results. But now I'm all wired up to a heart monitor which is no fun.

I ask that those depending on those things to which I have obligated myself be patient for a short while until we can figure out if it's healthy for me to continue.

Thank you goes to Dewy Parr of Buxton for the generous contribution you made for the new stickers.

For those interested in acquiring one, the are five dollars each and be had by sending a check or money order to:

Wheats CHAPA Challenge
P.O. Box 341
Buxton, N.C.
27920

Here's the sticker, CHNSRA at the top is of course for Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. And 100% of the proceeds go to the legal fund. So far we've hi the $200 mark with hopes of at least reaching $2000 which will buy about 4 hours of the attorneys time.


Tight Lines. I hope to be back at it soon.

Wheat

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Closure Of Cape Point

Without question, one thing that raises the ire of many visitors to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area is the closure of Cape Point to access in all forms. Also known as "the Point" this area of the Seashore has long been regarded as one of the premier surf fishing locations on our planet and draws fishermen as well as shellers, photographers and families, from all over the world.

Stretching south into the Atlantic,the Point also has the distinction of being the only place on the Island where one may stand in one spot, feet wet, and see the sun rise from the sea and set the same way. From here, on a clear spring night, the Milky Way appears painted with a brush and the constellations disappear amidst the cacophony of stars.


(borrowed photo)

The closure of Cape Point is an emotional event that has the power to drain from many the will to fight the fight for free and open access. This becomes easy to understand when those whose families have fished here for generations find themselves in a position where all they can do for their children is relate memories instead of tangible experience. It doesn't help that we know that since the inception of the Seashore, neither turtle nor bird has been able to nest successfully at the Point and that 100% of these creatures mortality in this area, can be attributed directly to either storms or predation.

I was first confronted by the news of the Point closure after returning from a visit to my father who had just been released from the hospital. Of course, I wanted to know why it was closed and began a series of calls to NPS which led me to the office of Cyndy Holda, Murray's' information officer. She it appears, was out of town and I spoke to one of her assistants who had no idea about the closure and in fact didn't even know who or what the Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA) is. It was also obvious, based on the rather convoluted response, that this person also had no idea about the beaches here at the Seashore and how they function. No surprise there either.

Tyring to figure out what this guy meant, I was left with the thought that NPS had decided that the walk was to far to be done safely. This thought was somewhat verified as I read Holda's reply about the issue in an e-mail to our friend Ted. I'll print that shortly.

The reasons cited by our community for this sudden closure varied and involved a cast of characters including a seal, a retired resource manager, an birder wearing an Audubon shirt and led by a local, to some guys toting a pier cart out to the Point.

 Having talked to a dozen or so folks that claimed they were there, the consensus was that NPS sat back and watched the assorted violations take place and did nothing to stop or inform the persons involved. At this juncture in time, I would not be surprised if this were true.

In fact, when examining the numbers of violations recorded for the week prior to the closure, this must be true else there would likely have been few, if any.

What was missing during this event was an any attempt by NPS to inform those who chose to make the walk, about what the stipulations were. This could easily have been accomplished by having one of their staff stationed by the end of the closure. One would think that if protecting the birds was so important, NPS would have acted accordingly.

Take a look at the list of violations yourself and ask if NPS made any effort to educate anybody about anything.

Bodie-Hatteras None


Hatteras 4/14/2011 Pedestrian Two sets of barefoot tracks from the Pole Road to the ocean, 1 mile S of Ramp 55 in the Overwash prenesting closure.

4/15/2011 Pedestrian Two pedestrians having a picnic inside the closure, 1.6 mi W of Ramp 45.

4/15/2011 Pedestrian Two sets of footprints going into pre-nesting closure to Salt Pond and back out, S of Ramp 44.

4/16/2011 Dog An off-leash dog briefly ran into and then out of the closure on the east side of Ramp 45.

4/17/2011 ORV ORVs backed into and broke string for the Cape Point pre-nesting closure at the south end of the by-pass.

4/17/2011 Pedestrian Two sets of barefoot tracks in the PIPL closure/bumpout above the tide line to Cape Point.

4/17/2011 Pedestrian/Dog Tracks of two pedestrians and dog going down Salt Pond Road to shoreline.

4/17/2011 Dog Two sets of dog tracks in the interior of the Cape Point pre-nesting closure. The tracks crossed the dunes into the backshore.

4/19/2011 Pedestrian Eight people walking above the waterline in the PIPL closure/bumpout leading to Cape Point.

4/19/2011 Pedestrian A set of barefoot tracks were observed 0.6 mi E of Ramp 45.

4/19/2011 Pedestrian Three pedestrians at Salt Pond Road inside the pre-nesting closure.

4/19/2011 Pedestrian Two pedestrians in the prenesting closure west of Ramp 45.

4/20/2011 Pedestrian Two sets of pedestrian tracks inside Hatteras Inlet pre-nesting closure. One set went in the closure ~50 ft and left the same way. The other set led to the water's edge and traveled above the waterline.

Hatteras 4/19/2011 Pedestrian Five sets of pedestrian tracks going into the Hatteras Overwash pre-nesting closure, oceanside.

4/19/2011 Pedestrian Twenty-five fishermen were observed on the shoreline above the waterline inside the Cape Point pre-nesting closure.

4/19/2011 Pedestrian As many as 20 sets of pedestrian tracks were observed above the water through the PIPL and AMOY full beach closures/bumpouts on the east side of Cape Point. Many of the tracks overlapped so an exact number of violations was not possible to obtain.

4/19/2011 Pedestrian Four sets of pedestrian tracks entered the AMOY closure/bumpout from the shoreline on the east side of Cape Point and ended in the Hook. Drag marks from what appeared to be an ice chest were evident. Another pedestrian entered the closure from the Hook and walked through an American oystercatcher scrape. The tracks stopped near some exposed marine mammal bones and then returned to the Hook.

4/20/2011 ORV/Pedestrian ORVs parked south of the by-pass broke string between signs. Pedestrians walked past the broken string and signs down the by-pass for 20 meters and then exited the closure.

4/20/2011 Pedestrian Four pedestrians entered the Cape Point pre-nesting closure and walked WSW through the closure into the dunes and continued into the Hook. In doing so they walked within 15-30 meters of two unexclosed PIPL nests.

4/20/2011 ORV/Pedestrian More than a dozen bait fish, heads of bait fish and the remains of a filleted bluefish were dumped in the closure behind the "parking area" south of the by-pass.

4/20/2011 Pedestrian A fisherman who had walked from the Ramp 45 side of the Cape Point pre-nesting closure towards the Hook was observed fishing from the closed shoreline.

Hatteras 4/20/2011 Pedestrian Four pedestrian tracks were observed on the west side of the Cape Point pre-nesting closure. The tracks disappeared at the tide line after 50 meters. Returning tracks from the same four pedestrians were then observed exiting the closure north of the entry point.

4/20/2011 Pedestrian/Dog Two pedestrians with a dog were walking above the waterline in the AMOY closure/bumpout at Cape Point.

4/20/2011 Pedestrian A fisherman was observed at Cape Point with a pier cart.

4/20/2011 Pedestrian A man and woman on shoreline fishing inside the AMOY closure/bumpout at Cape Point.

Ocracoke 4/15/11 Pedestrian Seven pedestrians were observed entering the North Ocracoke pre-nesting closure from the ferry beach.

4/17/11 ORV, Pedestrian/ Dog A visitor drove into the closure south of Ramp 59 because closure signs had been lost in the storm from the previous evening.

4/17/11 Pedestrian Two sets of footprints entered the AMOY/bumpout closure on North Ocracoke, continued for several feet and then exited the closure.

4/19/11 Pedestrian One set of barefoot pedestrian tracks entered the AMOY closure 2.9 miles south of Ramp 59, continued for several feet and then exited the closure.


This is a sad statement through and through. It certainly does not reflect well on our community and also exemplifies the disdain that NPS feels for those who lawfully seek access. It is obvious that NPS would rather punish based on items noted on a clipboard than to work with the community to ensure access and wildlife protections, as absurd as they are.

Holda offered this explanation for the closure (in part):

"The closure intrusions are summarized in the weekly resources management

report. There were no "deliberate violations", such as vandalism, and no
violation notices were issued. The area was closed due to a combination of
new AMOY scrapes near the point that resulted in expand buffers and an
increase in the amount of closed shoreline that visitors would need to
by-pass below the mean low tide line and the number of closure intrusions
was unmanageable."

No deliberate violations means no expanded closures according to the decree of forced consent. The rest of her explanation is muddled and weak at best. This is especially true of the last part since had NPS been proactive the issue would have been largely non existent.

Then there is the issue of Murray, who as stipulated within the decree, retains the right to modify closures meaning the new AMOY scrape mentioned above (which is not a nest Madame Holda) need not have resulted in full closure but a corridor instead.

If you really want to know why the Point was closed, Holda said it all when she issued the standard non-scientific NPS opinion, advancing "the agenda" of nobody on the beach, which reads:

"The time had come to close it to avoid disturbance of nesting bird species."

So there you have it folks. I don't know what else to say other than I can't wait till this hypocrisy in all it's forms, is finally exposed to a nation that is rapidly becoming weary of the actions of NPS.

I hope everyone that reads this will share our story with as many as is possible and will join us in our fight to end this terrible injustice.

http://www.obpa.org/

http://www.ncbba.org/


Tight Lines,

Wheat

Monday, April 18, 2011

Death And Destruction Of Species By The NPS, The 2010 Count

As we go through the years facing the horrible mess that NPS has created on the islands of Hatteras and Ocracoke, we often focus on access and the lack thereof; as well as the economic impact of the vast areas of beach no longer available to the visiting public or the commercial fishermen that reside here.

Of course, NPS justifies these closures by virtually any means possible and in some cases will outright ignore their own policies as well as those stipulated in the court sanctioned, decree of forced consent. In the process, as anyone who is knowledgeable about these issues understands well, NPS comes up with some rather interesting reasons to explain away their actions and hide the truth; or as just mentioned, ignore it all together.

Case and point, this photo of a Piping Plover scrape was taken just a few weeks ago south of the third jetty near the lighthouse. The birds were witnessed exhibiting nesting behavior but did NPS close this beach as required by the decree of forced consent? NO! That could result in the closure of the Lighthouse to climbing which last year alone netted NPS 1.3 million dollars in fees. NPS was contacted about this and ignored it.
(The scrape in question is the divot in the sand in line with the lighthouse near the bottom of the photo)





The 2010 Predator Management Annual Report for Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area is no exception.

Though the report does give a bit more information than reports I have seen previously, still, it ignores mortality when convenient. Take the sea turtle section for example. Where the Piping Plover and American Oystercatcher are named, detailed accounts of nests, hatchlings, fledgelings, and reason for demise are all part of the report, with the turtles, we see how many nests there were but no mention of mortality rates.

That subject was conveniently left out of Supt. Mike Murray's court presentation to Judge Boyle earlier this month as well. He did mention that 2010 was a record year for turtle nesting, however.

Hmmm, well I suppose if I were doing what Murray, Holda, and company, are doing to these islands and to those who have a right to visit these beaches, and my inept management policy racked up a near 50% nest mortality for the year, I'd be embarrassed as well.

It's an entirely different matter when the subject is dropped completely, mid paragraph, to begin a discussion of feral cats. More NPS spin.

When it comes to closures at the Seashore, the vast majority of area rendered inaccessible to all who live or visit here, is to protect bird species that are listed by North Carolina as "species of concern". This meaning that our wildlife resources commission simply wants more information about these birds. And in spite of having been informed of this by Gordon Meyers, Chairman of NCWRC, NPS provides these birds with near endangered species level protections in contrast to the wishes of Mr. Meyers.

NPS, in their lust to protect these birds from predators, has during 2010, also killed 12 diamond back terrapins, a North Carolina Species of Concern....ooops. But that's ok I guess. Don't forget folks, that's just this last year. I've never seen a record of this in a prior report and it's likely that it just wasn't documented. But that's ok, this is the government, and they're here to help.

So what did NPS kill or trap or both in 2010 to protect birds that keep us off the beach unnecessarily? Well here is the list that they published.

130 Raccoons

111 Opossum

220 baby Opossum (called kits)

8 Mink

47 Nutria

5 Gray Fox

9 Red Fox

2 Coyote

61 cats

12 Diamond back Terrapin

3 Mud Turtles

2 Yellow belly Slider

13 American Crows

3 Clapper Rail

7 Brown headed Cow Birds

13 European Starlings

21 Grackles

1 Muskrat

23 Eastern Cottontail Rabbits

NPS claims that most of the birds and rabbits were released unharmed.

NPS also states "we assume that some of these incidental rabbits and birds returned to trap sites and were caught several times"

This should come as no surprise since virtually every bit of their so called science used to run us off of our beaches is based on  the premise of "could have, may have, might have, perhaps, maybe, we think, we don't know but", etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I suppose we should all feel some level of comfort that NPS has not begun to trap and shoot us too. At least not yet anyway.

Tight Lines,

Wheat

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dr. Mike Berry Talks About Hizdishonors, Judge Terrance Boyle's Status Conference

There are many people that fight the fight for beach access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. Over the years, I have come to know many of them and have developed a deep respect for their knowledge and drive to ensure that we can preserve access to our Seashore for generations to come.
One of those people is Dr. Mike Berry, a man who has worked within the same government that seeks to close our beaches, for decades.

Yesterday, Mike attended the status conference held in Judge Terrance Boyle's court relating to access where NPS asked for yet another extension of the decree of forced consent, extending it till November 15th of this year.

What follows is a copy of Dr. Berry's comments regarding this hearing. It made my stomach turn.

Please get involved in this issue and support your right to access this Seashore!
http://www.obpa.org/

http://www.ncbba.org/

We can win this if we work together to do so.

-------------------------------------------

Yesterday April 7 I attended the consent decree conference held by Judge Boyle in Raleigh. I have attended 3 of the 4 conferences Judge Boyle has held beginning on April 30, 2008. As best as I could determine, there were only three of us in the observer section of the courtroom interested in public access to the national seashore. These formal conferences, among other things, indicate the interests, intentions and underlying objectives of the participants.


Judge Boyle began by saying that the Federal Government (NPS) filed a motion to extend the delivery date of a final ORV Plan from April 1, 2011 to November 15, 2011 and to keep the provisions of the consent decree in place for that extension. The federal attorney rose and confirmed the request for extension to court and emphasized that an extension to promulgate the final (but bureaucratically delayed) ORV Plan is all the government requested.

The Judge asked for a summary of the 2010 bird and turtle resource report. The federal attorney ( in a collegial manner) pointed to SELC attorney indicating she had a chart that reflected the fact the species numbers for the 2010 closure season were very good. Mike Murray then rose summarizing those numbers emphasizing that fledged Plovers (16) and turtle nests (158) were the highest ever reported or the Cape Hatteras National Seashore—(implying that the consent decree was producing significant results and in so doing also indirectly implying pending provisions of the final plan would also produce similar results.)

The Judge asked about visitation statistics to the seashore and Murray indicated that there were over 2 million visitors in 2010 (implying that the consent decree did not adversely affect visitation). Murray did not focus on areas and businesses most affected by closures for example on the Avon or Buxton communities of Hatteras Island.

Judge asked about the number of ORVs on/accessing the seashore. NPS responded that on peak days such as Memorial Day, the ORV numbers were about the same as previous years but packed into much smaller areas. The Judge asked about the future driving permit requirement and then stated that “visitors would have to plan ahead” and would probably not have the required permit to allow them to drive on to the seashore, thus limiting ORVs. The Judge appeared pleased.

The Judge asked if the Federal Government or Interveners wanted any changes to the current consent decree, both said “No”. The Judge granted the extension of the consent decree without change.

In my nearly 40 years of witnessing activities in Federal Court related to environmental policy I have never until yesterday seen the “defendant” deliberately argue the “plaintiff’s” case. The SELC attorney said not a single word, the federal government and interveners gave away/conceded the case (denial of public access).

Yesterday, I witnessed a blatant collaboration between the Federal Government and well funded and politically connected environment activist entities to unnecessary restrict public access to the national seashore. The Federal Government, NPS and the Court, made no attempt to advocate for balanced and reasonable public access to the national seashore. Again, they created a highly restrictive environmental policy through the backdoor, beyond public view.

The stage is now set for justification and validation of the future access restrictions imposed on the public by NPS Alternative F. Without ever arguing the facts (science, economic, legal process) before the public in court, The “Cape Hatters National Seashore Recreational Area” set aside for hard working citizens will soon be transformed into a “National Bird and Turtle Use Area.” Animal species now have priority over humans—and it’s all legal.

NPS won the battle by being sued.

Mike Berry
Chapel Hill, NC

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Tight Lines,

Wheat