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Hi, and welcome to my "Editor's Blog"! In this space I'll be attempting to keep our readers informed on fast-breaking news and issues affecting our islands. Visit often. There's a lot going on!

Enjoy the Island Free Press and, even more importantly, enjoy our wonderful barrier island!!!

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More on the Memorial Day weekend

Friday 29 May 2009 at 3:08 pm After I posted my May 26 report on the Memorial Day weekend, I got comments – online and in conversations -- that are worth noting.

Several of the folks who commented agreed that the weather was beautiful and the beaches were not overly crowded.  However, they think the beaches aren’t crowded because there are not as many visitors on the islands.

That could be correct, but it’s hard to tell now.

A check of the Web sites of the major rental companies on the island shows that all are offering hundreds of “specials” right through the summer season when the companies have had bookings of close to 100 percent in the past.

One rental company executive told me 10 or 15 years ago that “you could rent a rock on Hatteras Island” in July.

Well, this year, you apparently will not have to settle for a “rock.”  There are discounts on many cottages, and most of them seem to be the larger, pricier places.  Some of the discounts are $1,000 a week or more in the prime, mid-summer season. Read More

The Weekend Report

Tuesday 26 May 2009 at 6:25 pm The good news about the Memorial Day weekend report is that there really is not a lot of news.

And this is really good.

The weather cooperated – only spotty, brief showers with light to moderate southeast breezes.

A lot of visitors came to Hatteras and Ocracoke, and, according to National Park Service rangers, they were largely well behaved.

Despite large beach closures required by the consent decree, the beaches that were open were not overly crowded.  Yes, there were more vehicles than a typical weekend, but when I drove the beaches on Saturday afternoon, there was still room on the shoreline for all beachgoers. Read More

A conversation with an island

Thursday 21 May 2009 at 08:23 am It’s time for a break in blogging about heavy but important issues facing our islands.

Today, I am blogging about a book that should be on your summer reading list.  

It hasn’t felt like summer on Hatteras and Ocracoke this week with the rain, clouds, strong and gusty northeast winds, and heavy seas.  But Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally starts the summer season on the islands, is upon us.

The weather outlook for the weekend is good, and here’s my recommendation for a good read on the beach, on the deck, or in the boat.

Ray McAllister, a veteran journalist from Richmond, Va., has written one of the year’s most interesting new books for all of us who love Hatteras Island. Read More

Why recreational anglers think they deserve game fish status for red drum and speckled trout

Tuesday 19 May 2009 at 09:02 am By all accounts, the bill introduced in the state House of Representatives last month that would give game fish status to red drum and spotted sea trout is dead in the water.

The bill, H918, Designation of Coastal Game Fish, would make these two popular species of fish off limits to commercial fishermen and would reserve them for recreational anglers only.

Introduced March 31, the bill was referred to the House Marine Resources and Aquaculture Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Tim Spear, a Democrat whose district includes Dare and Hyde counties.

Spear had a hearing last week to give supporters and opponents of the bill a chance to speak, but the bill has not made it out of committee and has not been introduced into the Senate. Read More

Getting rid of the ubiquitous plastic bags – an idea whose time has come

Thursday 14 May 2009 at 4:27 pm

Sen. Marc Basnight had a really good idea.

And then he had an even better idea.

Several weeks ago, Basnight, a Manteo Democrat who is President Pro Tempore of the state Senate, gathered some community leaders at his family’s restaurant, The Lone Cedar Café on the Manteo Causeway.

Basnight was rallying support for a bill that would impose a 10- to 25-cent fee on most types of plastic and paper bags.

His stated purpose was to clean up the Outer Banks – get the unsightly, flimsy, ubiquitous plastic bags off the roadways and dunes and out of the waterways.

Read More

What's in a name? Part 2

Monday 11 May 2009 at 3:42 pm Just a bit more on the name of the seashore – Cape Hatteras National Seashore vs. Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.

Need we say more about this photo of an early official brochure for the park?

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Dennis Gray, our friend and faithful reader, found the cover of this brochure in the Hugh Morton Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library in an online blog.

The link is http://www.lib.unc.edu/blogs/ncm/index.php/category/treasures-from-the-stacks/page/2/

Check my last blog for more information on the issue of the seashore’s name.

What's in a name?

Friday 08 May 2009 at 07:30 am As the issue of off-road vehicle access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore has become more contentious, the people who favor free and open access have increasingly pushed for the seashore to return to the name that Congress gave it in 1940 – the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.

Returning to that moniker for the seashore is important to many as the environmental and ORV access groups square off on a beach driving regulation for the seashore.

At the core of this issue is the Park Service’s dual mission on the seashore to both protect the resources and accommodate the visiting public. Read More

A fish tale: Don't leave your tails on the beach

Tuesday 05 May 2009 at 4:43 pm On Sunday, April 26, a group of locals was fishing on the beach in Buxton.

Part of the group headed home, but one person decided to check out the Avon beach. In his cooler were three small sea mullet that had been caught earlier, and he was hoping to add a few more for dinner that night.

The angler had no luck in Avon and decided to clean the three small mullet before he left the beach. He threw the scraps to the begging seagulls.

The angler said a National Park Service ranger sat in his truck and watched the fish cleaning and gull feeding.  As the angler left the beach, the ranger turned on blue lights, stopped him, and gave him a written warning for leaving fish parts on the beach.

Moral of the story:  Do not clean your fish on the beach. Read More

Buxton takes a beating from beach closures

Friday 01 May 2009 at 5:31 pm Buxton businesses took a beating last summer with the extensive beach resource closures, and it looks like this summer will be a repeat of last year’s scenario.

Right now, the only beach in Buxton open to ORVs is four-tenths of a mile at Ramp 43.  It’s a cul-de-sac with two-tenths of a mile open north and south of the ramp.

A few days ago, the National Park Service closed Ramp 44, the main ramp to Cape Point, because of breeding behavior exhibited by American oystercatchers. There had been a small amount of beach open there.

Access to the Point has been closed for several weeks by closures for oystercatchers between Ramp 44 and Cape Point.

And Ramp 45, to the southwest of the Point, which was already just another four-tenths of a mile cul-de-sac was closed down last weekend.

Just four-tenths of a mile.  That’s fairly amazing.  These oystercatchers are neither endangered or threatened under federal law. They are listed as species of special concern by the state of North Carolina. Read More