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.

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:

Tight lines,



  1. You said it all Buddy its a bunch of bs that all that water is still there keep up the good work buddy People like you wil make a diffrence fo the better on the island Keep up the good work !!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I'm glad that you have written this article about the NPS. There is so much more to report on the damage they have done to this island. Promises they have broken to the people here, land stolen and now our civil liberties ripped away by destorying the business community and killing thousands of innocent animals to protect a few bird eggs. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of tax payers dollars they spend to carry out these murders. Now we have to pay to go on a recreational national park beach. It's criminal!

  3. They are sitting in Manteo at the NPS office smugly reading your blog and not giving a damn..........