Shooting The Breeze


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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There's lots of activity of beach access issues

Friday 31 July 2009 at 4:08 pm As we head into August, beach access issues are on our minds even more than usual.

The bird nesting season is winding down and favorite beaches that have been closed for three months or more are re-opening to off-road vehicles and pedestrians. Cape Point re-opened for vehicles on Wednesday, July 29.

The turtles are still nesting – 86 in all on the seashore as of this week.  Many of these closures are being expanded as the nest hatch window approaches, but many of the expanded nests allow ORV and pedestrian access behind the expansions.

There are two dates coming up to mark on your calendar.  

The Outer Banks Preservation Association, which supports free and open beach access, will have it annual meeting on Saturday, Aug. 8, at 5 p.m. at the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club in Buxton.

And on Sunday, Sept. 6, the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance, a consortium of beach access groups, will sponsor a barbecue and dance at the Fessenden Center in Buxton to raise money for legal fees to defend open access.  The barbecue is from noon until 10 p.m. and the dance will be at a soon-to-be-announced time in the evening.

And, last but not least, county officials spent several days this week in Washington, D.C., trying to get more support – especially among Democrats – for legislation that would nullify the consent decree that now rules ORV use and the seashore and return management to the National Park Service under the Interim Protected Species Plan. Read More

Jonathan Jarvis' confirmation hearing was only slightly interesting

Tuesday 28 July 2009 at 5:13 pm President Barack Obama’s nominee to become director of the National Park Service appeared before the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources this morning for a confirmation hearing.

Jonathan Jarvis, who is currently director of the park’s Pacific West Region, is a biologist with 33 years of service with the Park Service.  He’s a Virginia native, who grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and graduated from the College of William and Mary.

There were few surprises at the hearing – other than North Carolina’s Republican Sen. Richard Burr, a committee member and also the ranking Republican on the Subcommittee on National Parks, was not present to grill Jarvis on the situation with off-road vehicles at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Burr’s spokesman, David Ward, said that Burr met with Jarvis last Friday and that Burr would be submitting at least two questions to Jarvis for the record, including a question about whether Jarvis will work to ensure that the community has access to the seashore beaches. Read More

Confirmation hearing will be July 28 for Obama’s nominee for NPS director

Thursday 23 July 2009 at 5:31 pm

The U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing for several of President Barack Obama’s nominees for positions in the administration, including Jonathan Jarvis as director of the National Park Service.

The hearing before the full committee is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 28, and will be Webcast live on the committee’s site.

Obama nominated Jarvis earlier this month as NPS director, a position that has been vacant since the president took office.

Mary A. Bomar, who served under President George W. Bush, retired on Jan. 20.

Daniel Wenk, deputy director of the Park Service and a career Park Service employee, has been acting director since January.

Wenk is best known to Hatteras and Ocracoke islanders and visitors as the federal bureaucrat who testified last September in House and Senate committee hearings against bills to jettison the consent decree and reinstate Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s Interim Protected Species Management Plan.

If Jarvis is confirmed as director of the National Park Service, he will become a key player in the long-range ORV management planning that is now underway at the seashore.

Read More

10 years after the "Move of the Century"

Tuesday 21 July 2009 at 2:29 pm Ten years ago this month, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse ended its historic journey.

That journey took the lighthouse about a half mile to the southwest of its original location, where it stood guard over the treacherous Diamond Shoals for almost 130 years, to move it away from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.

The move was opposed by many Hatteras islanders, who were worried that the old lighthouse wouldn’t make it to its new site in one piece or who just thought it should stay in its historic location by the sea.

However, the National Park Service forged ahead with its plans to move the iconic beacon. Read More

Does the Weather Channel hype or help during storms?

Friday 17 July 2009 at 3:05 pm When Tropical Storm Hanna headed toward Hatteras and Ocracoke during the first week of September last year, it was closely followed by Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel.

Cantore showed up in Hatteras to broadcast on the island on Thursday morning, Sept. 4.  That night he broadcast live from Hatteras village.  By the next morning, he was at Mirlo Beach in Rodanthe. And by Saturday, Sept. 6, the day the storm came ashore near the border of North and South Carolina, he was down south at Atlantic Beach.

No matter. Many local business owners thought that Cantore’s appearance here on the island two days before the storm caused visitors to pack up and leave, even though there was no evacuation order for Dare or Hyde counties.

Hanna was basically a non-event on the islands.  There was minimal rain for a tropical system.  Winds gusted to 60 mph or so after the storm came ashore south of us and traveled north through the state, well west of the Outer Banks.

There was soundside flooding from Avon north, and Highway 12 was closed for several hours. Read More

The problem with our national parks is that they are no longer for the people

Tuesday 14 July 2009 at 2:44 pm In an interesting blog posted on the New York Times Web site last week and republished as an op-ed piece in some newspapers, Timothy Egan, Seattle bureau chief for the newspaper, bemoans the state of the national park system.

He cites the declining visits to the parks and that all visitors look the same – “generally white, fairly prosperous, sensible-shoe-wearing adults.”

He links this decline of interest in the parks to today’s youngsters – too overweight, too devoted to electronic media, and lacking an interest in nature and the outdoors.

It’s a good blog, and Egan makes many good points about the state of our parks and the need for “a new generation of stewardship.”

His solution is an interesting one – get first lady Michelle Obama to make the parks her next mission – sort of do for the national parks what she did for growing lettuce.

Egan says we need a “superstar” and a “style shaper” to help the parks, and he says Obama is just the right person. Read More

Let the air out of your tires – PLEASE

Thursday 09 July 2009 at 4:28 pm It happened again.

It was another summer holiday weekend, and once again there were problems with off-road vehicles stuck on the seashore’s ramps.

Lots of them.

John McCutcheon, Hatteras Island’s head district ranger for the park, said that there were 91 “visitor assists” for the week that ended on the July 4 holiday.

Almost all of them, he added, were for vehicles stuck on the ramps. Read More

SELC's latest spin on the fantastic consent decree

Thursday 02 July 2009 at 09:33 am The Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society in their lawsuit again the National Park Service over ORV use on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, has just released more of its fantasy thinking on the terrific success of the fantastic consent decree.

This time the SELC spin comes in the form of a four-minute video by SELC lawyer Julie Youngman that was released on June 15.

In it, Youngman, a colleague of SELC’s lead attorney Derb Carter, reminisces about her childhood summers on the seashore – the beautiful beaches and plethora of wildlife.

“Many of these species,” she says with a serious and straight face, “are listed as threatened or protected by the federal government.”

Many? Oh, really? Read More