So I suppose I'll start with living in the Land of No. As many of you probably know, the now infamous sign proclaiming that you had to walk in the water and leave no footprints behind has been replaced by NPS after a great deal of public outcry and the help and support of congressman Walter B. Jones. The new sign is interesting as it calls into question just where the NPS property line ends relative to the water. For years we've been told that it was at the mean low water mark which is undefinable as tide lines change daily. But recent conversations I've had with commercial fisherman, members of the Coast Guard and others indicate that it's actually the high tide line, not the low. The new sign seems to confirm this. An inquiry to the State of North Carolina is underway and hopefully we will have an answer soon.
They still say no, no, no, and are really ticking a lot of people off. Already about 72% of our ~73 miles of beach are closed.
We've had a couple fundraisers which have helped fund our lawsuit against NPS. Federal level attorneys don't come cheap so every penny helps. The Frisco Jubilee was at the Cape Hatteras Anglers club and Coast2Coast radio and the Joe Vex Band made the trip down from Fredericksburg Va. to do a show at Hurricane Heathers in Buxton. An event with fine music and great company for the cause. Kim Mosher donated and signed some posters which definitely helped fund the fight. It was a good time and Heather said she wants to do it again. Maybe we can get Rick Hines to bring down the Whiskey Hill BBQ team to help us out. He's just had an invite to the Governors Mansion in Richmond to participate in an event. His brother David made it to Heathers and is an avid access supporter as well.
Geoff Leach of Coast2Coast takes a break and a picture of Heather hard at work. Friends, if you want some awesome food and excellent service, please take the time to stop in and say hello, you wont regret it!
Pictured also is Jim Keene who has been instrumental in our fight for access for years.
Of course, since I last wrote, NPS finally responded to our lawsuit with about the closest thing to a non-response as you could hope to present and actually still manage to call it a response. They have until the 24th of may to meet and confer with the court and until the 31st to submit a report addressing the complaints included in the lawsuit.
In addition, yesterday, OBPA President, John Couch and Dare County Commissioner Warren Judge as well as Rep. Walter Jones testified before the House Natural Resources Committee about H.R. 4094 and did an outstanding job of representing all of us that deserve to have this draconian "final rule" overturned. In addition, on Thursday, Senators Burr and Hagan of North Carolina submitted a companion bill which is S.2372; again attempting to return management of the Seashore to the interim management strategy published and vetted in 2007.
Irene Nolan wrote a great article about the testimony yesterday in her blog which is found at:
And information on the hearings, the lawsuit and so much more can be found at www.obpa.org
Of course, Audubon and company have just about messed their pants over all of this and put out a press release that was astounding. Verbatim with the link: http://nc.audubon.org/hagan-and-burr-run-over-sea-turtles-rare-birds-pedestrians-and-tourism-unleash-road-vehicles-cape-ha
So lets have some fun with this..my comments in red.
Hagan and Burr run over sea turtles, rare birds, pedestrians, and tourism to unleash off-road vehicles in Cape Hatteras National Seashore
This is tantamount to slander..literary license aside..and how did somebody get so close to this bird without causing a disturbance? I guess if you're a member of Audubon, you can walk all over nests while we aren't allowed anywhere near them. And was this taken at Hatteras?
April 27, 2012, CHAPEL HILL, N.C.— Late yesterday U.S. Senators Hagan (D-NC) and Burr (R-NC) introduced a bill to overturn the National Park Service plan to manage beach driving within Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The following is a statement from National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Southern Environmental Law Center:
"We can't be more disappointed in Senators Hagan and Burr's complete disregard of facts, sound science, federal laws, and years of public participation and constituents' comments by introducing a bill to overturn the National Park Service plan to manage driving on the beaches at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
What facts? This is something that you Audubon folks lack in amazing quantity. Speculation does not count as fact, nor does supposition which comprises nearly 100% of your so called science. Could have, may have, might have, possibly, perhaps, etc, constitute the beginning of the scientific process, the beginning of hypothetical analysis but not defined, sound, peer reviewed science which, coincidentally, is required by law before decisions about public resources are made.
"In the four years under temporary safeguards and ORV restrictions to manage beach driving until this plan was adopted, visitation to the seashore and tourism revenue increased and nesting birds and sea turtles began to recover from significant losses.
This is an outright lie. Visitation to Northern Dare County may have increased, but visitation on Hatteras and Ocracoke have dropped through the floor. Nesting birds have not increased though the number of bird nests might have but that is simply a matter of how NPS tabulates the numbers. If 100 pair of terns nested today, NPS would count 100 nests. If the nests were wiped out by a wave and the birds re-nested, we would still have only 100 nests but the official count would be 200. You know that just as well as I do. You chose to twist the truth, I prefer the truth. And just what significant losses of sea turtles do you refer to? That statement is beyond ambiguous. If you're talking about losses at the Seashore, well let's see..on average NPS looses 37% of the nests per year. In 2010 when you were claiming that your beloved consent decree restrictions caused an increase in nesting, you forgot to mention two important facts. The first being that virtually the entire east coast had a record nesting season that year and that in spite of your lovely closures and the economic impact that it had on our economy, NPS still managed to lose almost 50% of the nests. Not because of ORV use but because of piss poor management, storms and predation.
"A vast majority of over 21,000 citizens who commented on the National Park Service rule supported restrictions on beach driving to protect wildlife and provide safe areas for visitors and families to walk on the beach. It's difficult to understand why Senators Hagan and Burr would allow the small percentage of seashore visitors who drive on beaches to dictate the management of a national resource that belongs to all Americans.
What a joke. The comments received were from action alerts sent out by your consortium of environmental groups the vast majority which failed to comply with the NPS stipulated requirements of a proper address and did not include the "RIN" or rule identification number as required by the Service and clearly stipulated in the NPS press releases.
"The Senators' "beach roadkill" bill introduced April 26th seeks to overturn safeguards by the National Park Service that ensure responsible vehicle operations in the presence of nesting sea turtles and birds, and pedestrians.
Twisting the truth again? Show me the record of harm to wildlife at the Seashore. Or I can save you the trouble and inform you that NPS records indicate that since 1952 less than 3% of all harm to wildlife can be attributed to visitor activity. That doesn't include the thousands of animals that NPS has killed during trapping or even banding of birds. And when you're done, show me the record of vehicle and pedestrian conflict. Good luck with that one as well.
"The new National Park Service rule still designates ORV use on the majority of the national seashore and keeps all of the seashore's beaches open to pedestrians. Twenty-eight of the seashore's 67 miles (somehow we lost six miles of our islands) are set aside as year-round ORV routes with only 26 miles designated as year-round vehicle-free areas for pedestrians, families, and wildlife. (Really? So I can drive to Cape Point?) The remaining 13 miles of seashore are seasonally open to ORVs, but reserved for pedestrians during the peak tourism seasons. While some small areas may be temporarily closed to allow birds and sea turtles to nest, (Wait, didn't you just tell us it was open year round?) the new plan also proposes new parking facilities, access ramps, and water shuttles to increase visitor access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches."
OK, so I am to understand that you advocate the destruction of primitive wilderness and potential nesting habitat to construct parking lots, access ramps for vehicles you DONT want on the beach and landing facilities in the sound for boats which will destroy marine habitat and inhibit the feeding and nesting patterns of birds, fish and invertebrates?
• The long-awaited ORV management rule is the final step in a process agreed to by all parties—including Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance and local counties—concerned about beach driving in the national seashore. (False) During an interim management period prior to the Park Service's January rulemaking, rare bird and sea turtle populations showed signs of recovery, (recovery from WHAT? Mother Nature?) park visitation held steady or increased annually, (False) and tourism remained strong in Dare County, NC, where much of the seashore is located, despite a nationwide recession. (Only in upper Dare, not on Hatteras or Ocracoke..You're twisting the truth yet again)
• Tourism flourished in Dare County during the period when interim protections under a Consent Decree were in place. Rental occupancy receipts in Dare County increased by millions over the previous decade as recorded by the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. (Upper Dare, Not on Hatteras Island nor on Ocracoke which is in Hyde County) Park visitation and gross occupancy in Dare County during peak breeding and nesting season under interim management held steady or increased compared to the three preceding years. (This is false as NPS has no means of accurately measuring visitation to the Seashore and again you attempt to equate northern Dare with Hatteras and leave out Ocracoke) According to a state report on tourism for 2009-2010, Dare County experienced an 8.8 percent growth in tourism—placing it among the top growth counties in the state during a recession. The county's strong tourism industry employed 11,260 people with $172 million in payroll and generated $44.55 million in tax receipts for the state and $39.78 million in local tax receipts. ( just a repeat of the same rhetoric and misleading information)
• As a unit of the National Park System, Cape Hatteras National Seashore has been required under federal law since 1972 (executive orders are not federal law.) to establish guidelines that to manage off-road vehicles in such a way to minimize harm to the wildlife and other natural resources of the seashore in accordance with the best available science, (well it's comforting to see you have a sense of humor and next you'll be telling us that Elvis is alive and lives on your block.) to minimize conflicts with other, non-vehicle-based uses of the seashore, and to preserve the seashore for present and future generations. ( And the purpose of preserving it for future generations of people that wont be allowed on our beaches if you get your way, is?) After decades of non-compliance, the new rules bring the NPS into compliance with that requirement.
As you can see folks..these people are more full of shit than a Porto-potty in the food court at the State Fair. They would all do well to write for the National Enquirer or some other tabloid though they might have to take a pay cut.
In the mean time, as I prepare to end my rant, If you didn't see the hearing yesterday, go have a look. It was fun to watch. I hope the senate hearings are as entertaining.
Many thanks to all the folks that have worked so hard to help write these congressional bills which took a lot out of all of us as did the lawsuit. The fight has just begun my friends and we need all the support we can get.
A great shout out to Ken Cooper, Kim Mosher, Pat Weston, Heather, without whom the last fundraiser would not have been possible, the folks that manned the OBPA table, Joe Bayliss, Geoff Leach and the folks from C2C Radio as well as Hatteras Realty who set these folks up with a place to stay.
Don't forget we're doing it again, May 5th at the Fessenden Center in Buxton..music from 2pm till midnight to benefit OBPA.