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.


  1. Wheat, I was just informed of your blog this morning and am so glad! Your response is structured and formal which I know can be hard to achieve when a response is fueled by passion and outrage. Thank you for shining a better light on this matter... it makes me sick thinking about how many people may read the misinformed articles and soak it all in, getting the entirely wrong impression of anyone backing this cause. -Jessie

  2. I have followed this issue for a while and have been reading and sharing your blog often. Hats off to you for your dedication on this matter. I'm one of the owners of and have been blogging a bunch as well to try and inform people of the beach closures, sign the petition, get involved, etc...

    Thanks again for your commitment. Maybe one day "we the people" might mean something again.

  3. This was an outstanding response to the situation in Hatteras based on facts and not fiction. As Brent stated, maybe one day it will be about the people whose lives this really effects!!!!