Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Outstanding Letter To Congressman Walter B. Jones

This inspiring letter was written by Malcom Peele and was published Tuesday 5/22/12 in the Coastland Times. It is a wonderful read and well worth the time. I reprint it with the authors permission.

Tight Lines,


Letter to the editor

An open letter to Gongressman Walter Jones:
    There is something terribly wrong in our country today, and there is no place where it is more evident than what is happening in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The inhabitants of this tiny island that consists of seven villages, are under siege by the allowances of repressive government no less than the framers of the Constitution were, who out of desperation fled from their homeland where generations of "their" families had lived. We the people of the United States are supposed to be living under the rule of law created by our founding documents, guarantying our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those fundamental rights are systematically being stripped away from us and one would wonder if there is any solution.
    The simplicity of the early days of the Audubon Society, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other similar wildlife groups who saw the necessity of protecting and preserving our precious natural resources, and rightfully so, has evolved into a very radical and deliberate paradigm shift towards a sense of absolute control over the public by these agencies and special interest groups. But the most unbelievable aspect about what is happening is how all of these groups somehow trump the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. They have become the puppeteers of our society and there influence affects every aspect of our daily lives, from commerce, to tourism, to recreation.
    Generations of families have made their living on our beaches and the waters of the Pamlico Sound, but today many have had to leave the prosperity of the fishing and crabbing industry because of restrictions and regulations that have been imposed upon them by the Marine Fisheries since 1976. For the ones who struggle to carry on the generational tradition, it becomes more and more difficult, and less and less lucrative every year.
    There are hundreds of square miles of water that make up the Pamlico Sound, but it is almost impossible to keep a sufficient ferry channel open between Hatteras Island and Ocracoke because of all the environmental hype and seasonal regulations restricting pipeline dredging, out of fear of disturbing some eel grass, a fish, or a bird. The channel that connects the two islands serves not only as the lifeline, but is also the evacuation route for the residents of Ocracoke Island during hurricane season. Within the past couple of years a million and a half dollars have been spent trying to quick fix the problem utilizing the Army Corps of Engineers sidecaster dredge. The results of that in Hatteras Inlet can best be summed up in a quote by Albert Einstein. "To keep doing the same failed thing over and over again, expecting a different result, is insanity."
    To say that we are being systematically stripped of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is not exaggeration or melodrama. The Department of the Interior took eighty five per cent of our island from our grandparents and great grandparents when they turned it into a "national seashore." Agreements and promises that were made to local islanders back then, that life would continue on just as it always had, were excepted by the people, and were honored by the DOI for decades, and we shared our beautiful island and beaches with people from all over the country and around the world. But today those promises and agreements are as uncertain as the wind, and the National Park Service is once more taking our land from us by denying access to many areas of our beaches, and charging outrageous amounts of money for permits to access other areas. They have destroyed the beauty of our beaches and the shoreline on the Pamlico side of the island with their thousands of signs and sticks and ribboned strings. And local merchants and businesses have suffered tremendous financial loss as a result of the things that are being imposed upon them. Conservation and preservation have become perverted and lost in the money game created by special interest groups keeping our courts tied up with lawsuits involving any and every absurd thing imaginable, and are probably one of the main contributors to slow job growth and loss of jobs.

 The NPS has tried to establish as factual, that the Piping Plover is indigenous to Hatteras Island, and because of their small numbers, are somehow subject to extinction, neither of which is true. Piping Plovers thrive where they "are" indigenous. The NPS has used this rhetoric to strengthen their agenda of closing down access to our public beaches by creating a make believe crisis to the eco system. The only crisis to the eco system on Hatteras Island is being perpetrated by the NPS, not the residents or visiting public. Within just a two year period (2010,2011) the NPS set 19,025 traps, resulting in 857 species trapped, 102 of which were cats. Among other species that were trapped and killed were raccoons, opossums, minks, nutria, coyotes, red fox, and gray fox.....all for a bird that is not indigenous to the island. It is tragic that this is permitted in modern society. If the Park Service wants to increase the population of the Piping Plover, wisdom would dictate, and the humane solution to the problem would be to trap the Piping Plover and raise them and release them back into the wild, "not" kill hundreds and hundreds of our precious wildlife animals. This island "still" belongs to "we the people"! Portsmouth Island used to be the hub among this little chain of islands known as the Outer Banks. Today it is a bird sanctuary for the NPS. That will never to happen to us!
    The following is from a 1998 copyrighted Bantam book entitled, The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States:
On June 8, 1789, Madison moved in the first federal Congress that "a declaration" be "prefixed to the constitution." That "prefix" which seems to have constituted what Madison called a "bill of rights," would say.....That all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from the people. That Government is instituted, and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of the institution.
    The residents of Hatteras Island request that action be taken to address the Department of the Interior, and to establish some degree of control over the NPS, the Marine Fisheries, and the myriad of special interest groups that are destroying our way of life here in North Carolina.

Malcolm W. Peele

Friday, May 11, 2012

Nothing Like Misinformation And A Slap In The Face

I was alerted to an article in the Huffington Post about the bills we have in congress. Here is the article as well as my response. I dont know if it will be published but I'm putting it out here anyway.
And I cant post it all at once..this could take a whilr.

I am always astounded when I read articles such as this one concerning Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. And in this case, I read what appears to be a boilerplate opinion of an individual who is very unfamiliar with not only the history of the Seashore but the issues that plague those that call this place home as well as visitors from all over this nation. I cannot speak about Biscayne Bay as I am unfamiliar with the issues there. Hatteras, on the other hand, is something I am intimately familiar with having spent almost a decade learning the facts about this remarkable Seashore. Mr Flattau, your assertion that access to our beaches has caused harm to the environment cannot be substantiated by the National park Service or anyone else either. There is no evidence extant that suggests that we have caused harm to this resource. There is a wealth of speculation and hundreds of statements about "could have, may have, possibly, perhaps, might," etc.. but no sound or peer reviewed science that shows that we are causing harm to this area. I defy you to prove me wrong.
Incidentally, there are no endangered birds nesting here.The closest you get is a minuscule segment of the Atlantic coast population of Piping Plovers, (charadrius melodus) which is listed as "least threatened". On average, only ten pair of these birds nest at the Seashore per year and each nest fledged about 1.3 chicks. The amount of beach closed for these chicks is astounding. And it is having an incredible impact on our economy as well as ruining the vacations of many visitors. Not once, not once!, in the history of the Seashore, has a plover been killed by human activity related to visitation or vehicular access to our beaches. This being true in spite of the fact that up until 4 years ago, these beaches were open 24/7, 365 days a year. That is the historical record as documented by NPS.
Plover chicks are about the size of a ping pong ball. But as mentioned before, the closures around these birds, the beaches that become inaccessible, are immense. Each chick now receives a 1000 meter buffer around them. This translates to a buffer of 2000 meters or 1.2 miles in diameter. This also equates to 776.285 acres, 751.4 football fields, or 33,815,000 square feet, per bird. It would take 31.5 of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouses to cross this buffer or 4.5 Empire State Buildings. With a slight adjustment on the Southern end of the village of Ocracoke, also surrounded by the Seashore, the entire village could be placed in one of these closures with room to spare. These are the largest closures of their kind in the entire country and are unwarranted and unsupported by sound, peer reviewed science.
Your claim that only 10% of the visitors to the Seashore come to drive on the beach is also false. NPS has no way of tracking visitors to the Seashore to begin with. They used to have a traffic counter at the entrance to the Seashore at Whalebone Junction which is at the Southern end of Nags Head. It recorded every vehicle that passed by it including, EMS, police, NPS, the milk truck, the ice trucks, NCDOT, and a host of other persons. NPS considers anyone, including the residents of the eight villages surrounded by the Seashore to be a visitor even though many of those people will never venture to the beach. Some of these people come from families that have lived on these islands since before this nation was born. As part of the requirement to follow the stipulations of the National Environmental Policy Act, NPS was required to do an economic impact study which would naturally include a visitor use study as well. To do this, NPS hired the Research Triangle Institute out of Raleigh, NC. The study they produced has been deemed flawed and incomplete by both RTI and NPS. Therefore, quoting numbers from that study, though NPS uses them none the less, produces nothing but error and bad information.
To suggest that the various merchants and service providers move somewhere else is an insult. About 99% of the businesses here on the islands are "mom and pop" shops and don't exist "next" to the Seashore but are surrounded by it. In fact, there are businesses extant that predate the establishment of the Seashore in 1952.
This area was mandated by Congress as a recreational area in 1937 and NPS was told to develop it for such uses as needed. (16 USC 459 Sec. 4). In 1940, it was given its formal name, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area and was set aside and dedicated "for the enjoyment and benefit of the American people". It's rather difficult to enjoy a place you can't get to.
The bills in congress, H.R.4094 and S. 2372 are intended to restore reasonable access to the Seashore while affording protection to wildlife and the resource, nothing more, nothing less.
If there was one thing I could ask, Mr. Flattau, if in the future, you chose to write about the Seashore, would you please contact someone that actually knows whats happening here?
I'm going to post my response to your article in my blog as well as a link to your article so that folks can have a look.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Of Space In Feet And Meters.

Yesterday began with going out to the Fessenden Center ball field to help set up for the music festival to benefit OBPA which turned out great. We even had a visit from NPS, a photo of which should show up on the OBPA facebook page, hopefully today. All of the music was really good, as was the food, and lots of vendors showed up in support of the event. I can say that everyone I saw was having a great time.

After setting up the tents, a few of us went over to the meeting of the United Mobile Access Preservation Alliance (UMAPA) held at the Anglers Club in Buxton, a group that has been very generous in their support of the CHAPA legal fund and lawsuit.

We ended up taking a break after having spent quite a bit of time discussing the issues here at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. I was headed home but ended up in a conversation about buffers, bird and turtle numbers and the like for a while as we stood outside.

A point was made that it's extremely difficult to put these buffer sizes in prospective in terms of something that most of us can easily imagine. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. The question became how does one translate a 1000 meter buffer into real and understandable terms.

Of course, you first have to understand that the 1000 meter distance is in all directions. You may remember from geometry class that this is called a radius. But it's the diameter that I'm trying to work with here, so the number we have to work with is 2000 meters.

Since most of us didn't grow up with the metric system, it can be a bit tough to imagine just how big an area this really is; set aside for a bird the size of a ping pong ball.

So just how big is this area? Well a 2000 meter wide circle is just over 1.2 miles in diameter or 6,561.6798 feet if your doing the math. Or 33,815,000 square feet if you prefer. And translated to acres, 776.285 is the number. If you prefer football fields, you're working with an area that would cover slightly more than 751 of them. All for a ping pong ball on toothpicks whose parents never feed or care for after they hatch.

One prospective I've always used is a Regan class aircraft carrier. This is the largest warship in the world with the capability of handling a multitude of aircraft taking off and landing simultaneously. It has a crew greater in number than the entire permanent resident population of Hatteras and Ocracoke combined and a flight deck that is only 4.5 acres. My guess is that you could park every carrier in the Atlantic fleet inside a plover closure and still have room for destroyers, submarines, cruisers, some tugs etc..

Those numbers are still incredibly difficult to fathom and I suppose that unless it was your job to deal with distance and area of this magnitude, it would be nearly impossible to relate to.

So the quest became, try and find something that we can all try and deal with. I have probably failed since I'm having a tough time imagining this myself. But I'll give it a shot anyway.

Most everybody that has visited the Seashore has either seen or climbed the Hatteras Lighthouse at one point or another. So at least that gives us common ground.

Now we've all seen the thing, we all have pictures, but I'm going to throw a couple in here for the sake of prospective. The first one is of the lighthouse is somewhat close. At 208 feet tall, it can be difficult to get the entire thing in a frame.

The next one is taken by Ramp 43 which shows the lighthouse at about .98 miles away.

So, even now, I still haven't reached the outside edge of the plover closure. I'd have to venture to the exit of Ramp 44 to do that. But I'm still trying to put this in real, understandable terms. I doubt I can.

The reality is, as amazing and hard to comprehend as it can be, becomes that in order to equate the diameter of the area set aside for our friends, the ping pong balls, you would have to lay 31and a half lighthouses, end to end to cross that space or slightly more than four and a half Empire State Buildings.

I know, it's still hard to imagine, but I tried.

This is why it's so important to call and write your members of the House and Senate an push for the passage of the bills that have been introduced. It's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease folks. If you want reasonable access to our Seashore, now it's your turn to help. The access organizations are doing all we can do, but without your participation, this will die in congress. The dark side is pushing hard to get these bills killed in committee, we need to push back, and hard. Tell your friends and family as well. Don't be afraid to ask them to help. It's going to take all of us.

Information on who to contact and details about what's happening here can be found here as well as:

This is the time for us to make a difference. Dinner is ready to go in the oven and it's up to all of us to cook it. Money and participation are the two things we need to open these beaches back up for the American people. I hope you'll join us in this fight.

Tight Lines,


Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Curious Case Of The Piping Plover.

I chose the name of this post based upon an article on the website which discusses plover nesting and fledgling success rates which is at least, a very interesting read. It seems that even, at least in some cases even Audubon is beginning to question their espoused management advice and is wondering why our beloved ploover (Canadian pronunciation) is doing well in areas where people abound and are not regulated by the sort of draconian restrictions placed upon our beaches here on Hatteras ans Ocracoke Islands. The plover is, after all, the only federally protected bird species on the islands but apparently they sometimes do well around people, contrary to the mania that has been thrust upon us by Audubon, DOW, their lawyers from SELC, and of course, the Park Service. The article can be read here:

The impetus for this post, however, is this years record of ploover (rhymes with hoover like the vacuum) nesting.

Since the advent of the Decree of Forced Consent, in fact just weeks after it went into effect, the environmental groups and NPS were claiming great improvements in nesting and whatnot. Since these massive closures went into effect, numbers have fluctuated year in and year out as they always have.

Last year they were at it again, falling all over themselves about 18 ploover nests when in fact there were only 12 pair of birds. Yes folks, six nests were lost. None of which can be attributed to human activity except perhaps NPS which I'm sure they will never admit to; being the saviors of the islands and wildlife. Excepting of course, the thousands of animals they have slaughtered in the name of wildlife protection; the incredible paradox of species management.

I got a phone call from a friend last Saturday when NPS was conducting a re-enactment of sorts by the Lighthouse that involved the firing of a field piece, aka cannon. I could hear it from where I live in spite of what I recall, were NW winds. Now having been a reenactor this came as no surprise  and I recognized the sound for what it was from the beginning. During the conversation I was told that every time the gun went off, the birds on the beach left the ground in panic, including the ploovers. What I was also told, was that when the ploovers left their nests, gulls, crows, and cetera were trying to get to their eggs.

Well guess what, sometime between last Thursday and today, NPS managed to lose an entire plover nest at Cape Point. Coincidence?

So now, all of these massive closures of the beaches we own are being shut down by a whopping five ploover nests and this late in the season, it's not likely that there will be more. Even if the pair that lost their nest returns, we've still, at this point, only got half the ploovers here we had last year.

My question is what will be the spin this time? Cant blame it on vehicular access or pedestrians. We haven't had any storms to speak of, and it's been warm. So then, what is the issue since we've eliminated visitor access? I doubt I'll ever get an answer but they can't blame it on you and me.

Things are getting interesting folks and will likely continue to do so. These absurd closures and the way they are ruining vacations and this economy for no valid reason need pointed out to our elected representatives. Please write, email and call them to let them know the facts about whats happening here. Dont forget, OBPA is also on facebook as "Outer Banks Preservation Association"

The facts and history are all there.

Tight Lines,