Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"For The Enjoyment And Benefit Of The People"

If there is one thing that can be said about our fight for access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, is that it's one great pile of frustration that angers many and saddens many more. Through the years, those who live on the islands and the many who visit have been thrown one curve ball after another as the Park Service began to advance it's agenda. An agenda that is in direct conflict with the published intent of Congress and the mission established for this Seashore by same.

Though I hate to oversimplify the situation, it's though Congress declared this place a horse but NPS has declared that it's a chicken and will deal with it as such; and they don't care who gets burned in the process.

I still have no answer to my long standing question; "when was it that NPS gained authority over Congress?".

NPS was charged by Executive Order to implement a rule for ORV use. They were not charged with destroying an economy and a culture, or a way of life.

The fact is, that NPS could have presented a "rule" that mirrored pre 2005 management policies without causing harm to the beaches or the plants and animals we share this sand with. The record can stand on it's own.

Instead NPS re-invents and harms in the process.

The Seashore was established as a recreational area "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people" and NPS was charged to develop the area for such use as needed. Perhaps I misunderstand but it seems clear to me that one cannot enjoy a place one cannot access.

One of the things that frustrates all of us is the human toll of the actions taken and planned by NPS. On the Islands alone we have seen the loss of over 50 businesses, 400 odd homes are in foreclosure, many jobs have been lost or no longer exist. This doesn't really start to hit home until you realize that we are a remote location with eight small villages surrounded by the Seashore and with a population of less than 5000.

Yes, some of that is the general economy but the islands have always been somewhat recession proof by nature. On the other hand when you have 60% and change of your beaches closed during the busiest season of the year, recession proof or not, you're going to take a big hit.

The Seashore isn't like most of the east coast in that it remains largely undeveloped. Perhaps one of the most dynamic beach systems anywhere, the shoreline changes daily. Most of the beaches are remote and far from anything other than more beach.

And that's what people come here for. And that's what Congress intended them to do.

I cant count the number of friends I've made on that sand. True also, is that I have heard my fair share of frustration from those that come here from afar. I've seen tears in the eyes of a friend as the Point was closed. There are so many from far away that care so much for this place and they too become angry.

Of late, I've read many posts on various boards that express that frustration.

Some say they will limit their trips, others that they have no intention of returning. Some cant bear to witness what NPS intends to do to this place. And when it hurts worse, is when you're hearing it from a friend.

A friend of mine posted this on Frank and Fran's the other day and I find it poignant. I think it sums it all up but at the same time should inspire us further to fight this fight.

(By Brian, in part)

"For many years I have been going to the OBX to enjoy the following:

*Time with my family away from normal life

*Away from the cell phone and emails

*great fishing on the surf

*Bringing my boat down and fishing in the sound or off the point

*Sleeping in with NO ONE bothering me

*Getting up every morning and taking my early morning Jog to Frank & Frans and have a free cup of coffee while eating my 18 vitamins that I take every day

*Visiting friends from Hatteras Village all the way to Rodanthe

*Spending money that I dont have to support "JOBS and the OBX"

But what do I get. RUN OFF! Let me break this down what has happened over the last 3 years that this has been going on.

We fought back by doing education, handing out flyers, working with OBPA, Beach Buggy, Anglers Club to raise money and support. Ok Ok I understand at this point your tired of reading but continue.

Lets take "my family" Husband, Wife, 2 daughters a son and my inlaw's. Total 6-7 of us. Now let me put this in $$$$$$$.

*(2) 4x4 vehicles to drive everyone down. From my house to the island, around and back 2400 miles= 171 gallons of Fuel (So at today's average $2.96 per gallon) 171X $2.96=$507.43, Only 65 gallons are purchased away from DARE County. So that means 106 Gallons of Taxable fuel is to benifit Dare County.

*(1) House for the week at an average of $1462.10 (based on my 4 weeks average every year)

*Food bill for us (again an average) spending at Conners, Food Lion and Red Drum for a week $1125.11

*Eating out 2 times during the week (again an average) for a family 6 &/or 7= $291.52

*Bait and Tackle (again average) $214.92 per trip

*I carry a max of $800.00 cash and it's down within 50 bucks so we will say $750.00 misc cash (I dont use credit or debit on the island.

Now lets figure that up.

$4351.08 (I was pretty shocked when I seen how much I spend every trip down)\

Now take that and MULTIPLY X 4 TRIPS PER YEAR......................YEA................PRETTY CRAZY HUH?

Over $17400.00 per year and I have NOT counted the weekend trips to catch the big runs of fish. Now if I added that up it would boost it some but I am dirt cheap on those trips because no WIFE and KIDS.

If I a middle/average/american spends 17k a year JUST WITH MY FAMILY. I hope this sheds some light on the impact that the island is going to suffer.

We are now 1 trip a year and that is October for the tournament. I plan on continuing that trip to support what I love and have loved for years.

Now I want to personally thank each and every friend that I have met on the island for great times. If you are one of the reasons why I have decreased my trips from 4 to 1. Well please never come up to me. Ignore me with respect.

I do not wish to read "statistics" I am telling you the impact and in final.........It's been an awesome 20 years of vacation and again thank you! We are moving our vacations to Morehead City, A Cruise and a week on a local lake "bass fishing"

I feel heavy hearted to even write this but this is how the new rules and regs have affected my family. I will never give up on keeping the beaches open but NOW I have to put my wishes and wants away and provide enjoyment for my family. I will always be here to help as always.

God Bless"

I cant read that without remembering his and all of the other families from afar that are going to be hurt by this NPS action.

And that's all the more reason to get fired up to fight the fight!

And I'll leave you with that.

Tight Lines,


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Great Buxton Blizzard of 2011

Well for once I get to write about something fun and unusual and what a blast it was!

Yes folks, The Great Blizzard of '11 was one incredible thing. You have to remember, we're talking about Buxton here, but for quite a while yesterday, we got a taste of the winter magic.

When I returned from my visit to the far north, otherwise known as Kinnakeet or Avon, the snow had been falling for perhaps an hour and was just beginning to stick and was falling at a rate that I'd expect would satisfy the predicted 1-3" throughout the afternoon and evening. The first picture I posted was a 9:49 am and it was just beginning to snow.

After I got back from Avon the snow slowed, the big flakes came and I figured that the snow would end now that the white stuff had begun to stick. I remember thinking "well that's it, there's our snowstorm for this year".   Then, it began to snow..:)

Being from the coast not far from here, Ive seen plenty of snow that comes down hard for a while but then tapers off to a moderate level before it finally quits entirely. That of course, is what I expected here as we were only supposed to get a little snow.

That's not what happened. Instead, the storm began to intensify.

What was becoming apparent was that the weather guys might have missed something along the way. The storm wasn't letting up one bit. As hard as it was to imagine, it continued to intensify!

As is evident, things in the distance were getting a bit tough to see even though it was still early afternoon. Up to this point I had refused to look at the radar because the kid in me didn't want to see this "to good to be true" situation come to an end. I had nothing to worry about!

So there I was, laughing in amazement every time I looked out the window. It was pouring snow with lots more to come.

That's when I realized I might not be so giddy come the morning when I wanted to go out and take pictures. It never occurred to me that I would need an ice scraper while I lived in Buxton and I hadn't put gas in the tank on the way home. We're only going to get three inches of snow, right? Would I be able to get to Jarvis's Exxon or would I run out of gas on the way there after defrosting the windows?

Somebody in heaven thought that was a funny question and decided to have a bit of fun with it and decided to crank up the snow machine. As if it hadn't been snowing hard enough already, it then got stupid. Instead of a hard snow, we now had hard snow cubed. And it never let up. For hour after hour, this is what I saw out of my window though the photo was taken outside, not through the glass.

When I woke the next morning, the sky was clear with just a faint hint of the coming sun but the snow was glowing brightly from the moonlight. It was really neat! I waited until the sunlight first hit the snow before the shutter started clicking.

Obviously a bit more than three inches.

The next step was to fire up the truck and pray I had enough gas. I let it idle for a while to try and clear the windows which didn't work. There was just to much snow, around ten inches or better and I was running out of fuel. Plan B involved using the only thing I had that might work to clear the glass. Who ever knew a Plano tackle tray could do such a decent job as a scraper? And little did I know, I would need that tray several more times that morning.

My truck is under here somewhere!

I made it to the gas station with the fuel light and chime going off..whew. Then off to "visit" the Seashore. It was beautiful! A couple of my favorite pics were taken up by Ramp 43. Perhaps though nothing compared with walking the beach and seeing the ocean wash coming in to touch the edge of the snow. The "snow dune" was neat also.

Unfortunately, there's just to many neat pictures to share here. I stopped quite a few times because of what I saw that morning. One such stop was at the turtle pond which was loaded with ducks. I got out and took a couple shots of the ducks doing their duck thing and then hopped back into the truck and shut the door.

Ever take a good look at the roof of a Ram 1500? Me either, really. Well, they slope forward in case you wanted to know.

When I closed the door an 8x8, windshield wide snow log slid from the front of the roof and onto the window instantly obscuring my vision and rendering the wipers inoperable and I had another truck behind me. I grabbed the tackle tray and did the best I could which left me barely able to see.

All was reasonably well until I stopped at the end of Lighthouse Road when yet another snow log fell from the roof and I then had two trucks behind me. Rinse/Repeat. This wasn't funny anymore and there was still more snow on the roof.

I turned for Avon thinking that it would get pushed back into the rest of the stuff up there and no more worries. I stopped at the turnout before Canadian Hole and got a couple neat shots.

Alas, the snow logs weren't done with me yet. It wasn't the first on that got me but the second. Frustrated by the first (actually third) when the last one fell, I was still at the turnout having just finished dealing with the last one. I tried the wipers again but they wouldn't budge. By this time I was done with the tackle scraper and did it by hand. I got out, truck running, door open, and got the passenger side first. I walked back around and commenced to clearing my side.

This cunning plan would have worked beautifully had it not been for one fatal flaw in its execution.

As I cleared the first swipe of snow off of the window, the wipers decided to re-seat themselves to a more normal position.

It can be said with truth that in the aftermath of the Great Buxton Blizzard, I was defeated by my truck in a snowball fight. Perhaps handily defeated would be more accurate. At least I laughed. Anybody coming up the road behind me would have thought I exploded a snow bomb on the hood of my truck.

You get the picture.

Anyway, it was a great and very fun storm. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Tight Lines,


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Greetings From The Island In The New Year!

Well friends, the new year is upon us and already I read posts from friends about returning to the Islands to fish and enjoy the beaches. We all await the water, wind, and warmth of spring, of the first dogwood blossoms that signal that it's Drum time!

Unfortunately we must endure winter first. (Hatteras winter is the time between the end of the fall drum bite to the beginning of the spring bite.) And what a busy winter it's been. Hats off to Irene Nolan and for great coverage of the events.

So far, in terms of beach access we've had the Final Environmental Impact Statement, an NPS manual on how to mismanage the Seashore, destroy an economy, and violate the intent of Congress and other federal law. Following that was the required Record of Decision and the Notice of Availability which proceeds the next step, public comment, after which NPS will adjust the rule as they wish, and then implement it.

The most staggering development this winter came as a Christmas present to all that live here and the many good folks that chose to visit the Islands. Thanks to the hard work of Beth Midgett and the "Bridge Moms" as well as Senator Kay Hagan and others, the Department of Interior dropped their objections to the plan for a new parallel bridge and NCDOT issued a Record of Decision which clears the way for construction to begin.

This was an awesome accomplishment. It was an awesome accomplishment that came from a lot of hard work, a lot of time, phone calls and letters written again and again.

Those that want beach access in the future, we've just been shown how it's done.

Perhaps one of the more interesting things that's seen light this season is yet another story reported by Irene Nolan. It seems that the NPS Superintendent of Big Cypress National Preserve is actually standing by his enabling legislation unlike Murray here at the Seashore. And oddly enough, this issue is ORV access.

Superintendent Pedro Ramos gets my vote for any office he runs for. In an interview, linked at , Ramos is quoted with the following:

The south Florida preserve that covers more than 720,000 acres has a management mandate that differs from that of a "national park," he notes. (direct copy)

“I like to tell people it’s not just different uses, it’s a different mandate from Congress, and it’s not up to us to change the mandate from Congress to manage this place differently than national parks,"

And by far the most stunning, the truth be told as it should be here, is this utterly stunning statement:

"So it was a place that was created and founded on this concept and promise of compromise, where everybody has a place, where conservation is important. But having access is also important. If we forget that, and if we are not true to the intention of Congress and the mandate that they gave us to the act, we would not only be breaking promises made that resulted in the creation of the place, but we would be violating law, the law that created the preserve, which ultimately is what it all boils down to.”

Every time I read that, it takes my breath away. Would it be that NPS could bother to read our enabling legislation. And for that matter, the Redwoods Amendment. The one defining the mission and the other that NPS cant change the mission without direct and specific authorization of Congress.

A lot of people ask me how they can help fight the fight. I'd say first learn the facts. Lots of info at , , , and of course Island Free Press.

Then start writing and calling and thinking about making a comment during the public comment period. It's important that everybody gets involved in this. We need take a lesson from the "Bridge Moms", don't let up!

Before I forget, which I already did, I wanted to thank all of you who have bothered to read my ramblings in the last year and those of you who have helped spread the word.

I also wish to thank the people behind getting our story out into the public eye. The Piping Mad video went a long way to help. Other efforts helped get OBPA President, John Couch on Fox news. Thank you Greystone Project for your work.

I have high hopes for this new year and hope you will fight this fight with vigor. Access to this Seashore, set aside by Congress for the benefit and enjoyment of the people, is well worth the effort.
Tight Lines,