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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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Guess we won't see Jim Cantore again this weekend

Thursday 27 August 2009 at 4:27 pm I’ve been listening to The Weather Channel but haven’t heard yet where the meteorologists are being dispatched to anticipate the arrival of Tropical Storm Danny, which is forecast to become a hurricane by Saturday.

The good news for Hatteras and Ocracoke is that it looks as if Cantore and crew will not be hanging out here.

Last month, Cantore spent a couple days on Hatteras to video a Weather Channel feature on “Why I Love Summer.”

Although some folks were understandably panicked to see the Weather Stud on Hatteras during hurricane season, his work here was all fluffy stuff about kiteboarding and shelling and the like – and he attracted big crowds when he was being videotaped on the beach. Read More

Bill brushes by with minor inconveniences…..WITH SLIDE SHOW

Monday 24 August 2009 at 3:04 pm Hurricane Bill passed by Hatteras and Ocracoke islands more than 400 miles offshore on Saturday.

The heavy surf was, as always, impressive, and a major attraction all day for both islanders and visitors.

Despite the pounding waves, the islands fared well.  However, the turtle nests took a bit more of a beating. Read More

Surfers are hoping Bill will be swell

Friday 21 August 2009 at 2:54 pm Outer Banks surfers are eagerly awaiting the southeast swell from Hurricane Bill, which is forecast to pass several hundred miles east of the area tomorrow, perhaps bringing some of the best surf of the summer on Hatteras and Ocracoke.

However, the big waves that the surfers are hoping for will cause some inconveniences for other visitors. Read More

An interesting idea for piping plover recovery

Monday 17 August 2009 at 3:00 pm According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release, three piping plover chicks in Illinois have made history.

They were in the first nest that has been found in Illinois, where the birds are listed as endangered, in 30 years.

And, after the adults abandoned the nest, the four eggs were placed in incubators at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Three of the eggs hatched, and the chicks were released into the wild on Aug. 7.

It’s an interesting idea, isn’t it? Read More

The continuing adventures of Defenders, Audubon, and SELC in Wonderland

Wednesday 12 August 2009 at 3:16 pm The Defenders of Wildlife, the National Audubon Society, and the Southern Environmental Law Center weighed in yesterday on legislation that has been re-introduced in the Senate to overturn the consent decree and reinstate the National Park Service’s Interim Protected Species Management Plan.

I guess having North Carolina’s Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan sign on as a co-sponsor to S 1557, the legislation that the state’s Republican senator, Richard Burr, introduced last week, caught the environmental groups off-guard.

"Hagan's signing onto the bill is a surprise," Derb Carter, director of the North Carolina and South Carolina office of the Southern Environmental Law Center, which filed suit two years ago to protect the birds, told the News & Observer of Raleigh in today’s edition.

"We just would have expected her to have a broader understanding about the national seashore than ORV [off-road vehicle] users, which is what the bill is meant to protect," he said.

The News & Observer wrote an article after SELC issued a media release yesterday bashing the legislation, which has also been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Walter Jones, R. – N.C., and also recently got its first Democratic co-sponsor, North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield.

This release, like others issued by SELC since the consent decree was signed by a federal judge on April 30, 2008, puts a terrifically positive spin on the settlement of the lawsuit, which has resulted in more beach closures than ever before, expanded buffers for nesting birds, and a ban on night driving – among other things. Read More

The obstacles to turtle nesting in areas closed to ORVs…WITH SLIDE SHOW

Monday 10 August 2009 at 3:55 pm

As it turns out, ORVs with their headlights on the beach at night are not the only problem for threatened and endangered sea turtles that want to nest on the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

So are the people who stay in oceanfront houses in the Hatteras Island villages – in areas that are closed to ORVs during the summer nesting season.

Some visitors in these oceanfront cottages plant their gear on the beach when they arrive and leave it there all week.

We’re talking here about the tents, cabanas, volleyball nets, boogie and surf boards, coolers, toys, kiddy pools, beach chairs, kayaks, fire pits, and more. Lots of them.

And, according to Michelle Bogardus, lead sea turtle biologist for the seashore, all of these items are potential obstacles to sea turtles coming ashore to nest.

“There’s just a lot of gear on the beach,” Bogardus says.

And it’s all there illegally.

Read More

Burr introduces bill in the Senate to overturn consent decree, and Hagan will co-sponsor

Wednesday 05 August 2009 at 1:48 pm North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr introduced legislation in the Senate on Monday to overturn the consent decree that has managed Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches since April of 2008.

The bill, S 1557, would return management of the park to the Interim Protected Species Management Plan until the Park Service devises a long-term plan for off-road vehicles on the beaches, which is scheduled to be finished by the end of next year and become effective in 2011.

North’s Carolina’s Democratic Senator, Kay Hagan, will “absolutely” co-sponsor the legislation, her communications director, Stephanie Allen, said today. Read More

Jones' bill to overturn consent decree gets first Democratic co-sponsor

Monday 03 August 2009 at 4:32 pm In my blog last Friday, I wrote about beach access issues, including Dare County’s efforts to get Democratic co-sponsors for HR 718 to overturn the consent decree under which the National Park Service has managed seashore beaches since April of 2008.

Walter Jones, R-N.C., introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives last January.

As of last week, he had six co-sponsors, all Republicans. Read More