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 http://www.islandfreepress.org/ 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 http://www.islandfreepress.org/ , 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 http://www.obpa.org/ , http://www.ncbba.org/ , http://www.preservebeachaccess.org/ , 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. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.greystone-project.com%2F&h=64dcc
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.