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,


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