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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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Park Service DEIS on seashore access may be available next week

Friday 26 February 2010 at 3:17 pm The long wait to see what access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches might be like in the future is apparently almost over.

The National Park Service’s notice that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and preferred alternative for off-road vehicle use at the seashore are available to the public could be published in the Federal Register as early as late next week, according to Cyndy Holda, the seashore’s public affairs specialist and assistant to Superintendent Mike Murray.

“The NPS Notice of Availability (NOA) for the DEIS has been cleared for publication in the Federal Register, which is likely to be mid-to-late next week,” Holda said today in an e-mail.

Holda said that when the NPS Notice of Availability is published, the document will probably be available to the public on the Park Service’s planning Web site. Read More

A rite of spring - pre-nesting closures on the beaches -- plus DEIS update and a novel way to do in predators

Friday 19 February 2010 at 3:57 pm It may still feel cold here.  High and low temperatures are still below average and have been since about Christmas.

However, there are signs that spring is on the way.

The daffodils are sprouting in island gardens. Mourning doves are courting. Businesses are starting to get ready for the upcoming season.

And the National Park Service is getting ready to close large areas of the points and spits at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore for pre-nesting areas for shorebirds – namely the piping plover. (Click to read story and see maps on Beach Access Issues Page.)


This is not a new rite of spring here, as some environmental groups would have you believe. Read More

Access groups charge that DEIS on ORV rule may not be complete

Friday 12 February 2010 at 6:49 pm Has the Park Service dropped the ball again on ORV rulemaking?

We are literally on the eve of having the Park Service unveil its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and preferred alternative for ORV regulation on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Seashore superintendent Mike Murray says he expects the Notice of Availability of the DEIS to be published in the Federal Register just about any day now.  That notice will open a 60-day public comment period and kick off a series of meetings, also to solicit input from the public.

The process has no doubt been slowed down again -- this time by back-to-back crippling snow storms that have shut down the federal government in Washington, D.C., for most of this week.

It’s been a long and convoluted road to get to this point – beginning with Park Service inaction on enacting a required ORV plan in the late 1970s to the negotiated rulemaking committee that was to recommend a plan to the Park Service. The committee ended its work last year without reaching consensus on a recommendation on ORV operation, so the task of formulating a preferred alternative went to the Park Service. Read More

Some things never change in the struggle for beach access

Friday 05 February 2010 at 4:04 pm A few weeks ago, Jim Keene, president of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association, sent me an e-mail after there was some discussion on local blogs about the Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s 1978 draft management plan to regulate off-road vehicles.

Attached was a January, 1979, newsletter from the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA).

Keene wrote in his message: “As I earlier noted to some people while I struggled to write an article for NCBBA, ‘Why do I write new articles when we could revive old ones, same organizations, same subject, different people?’”

And how right he is. Read More