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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!

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Seashore sees record nesting success, but all because of the consent decree?

Wednesday 25 August 2010 at 5:40 pm

The expected media release from the environmental groups that sued the National Park Service over its management of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore arrived today.

The headline is as expected also:  “Nesting birds and turtles break records at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.”

And it’s all true.

As of today, there were 147 turtle nests on the seashore, the most ever documented here.

Fifteen piping plovers fledged this summer, the highest since record keeping began in 1992.  And 30 oystercatcher chicks fledged including four on Green Island in Oregon Inlet.

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The critical habitat court ruling and what it means for public access and replacing the bridge

Friday 20 August 2010 at 5:33 pm

Earlier this week a federal judge in Washington, D.C., upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s designation of four areas in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore as critical habitat for wintering piping plovers.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Cape Hatteras Preservation Alliance (CHAPA) against the Fish Wildlife Service’s second attempt at critical habitat designation at the seashore.

The first attempt also resulted in a lawsuit by CHAPA, but the access advocacy group won that one, and the court told Fish and Wildlife to clean up its act on the critical habitat designation.

This time, the Fish and Wildlife Service came out ahead – along with the defendant-intervenors in the court action.  And you know them well – Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

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Hatteras islanders have a stake in occupancy tax increase to fund beach nourishment

Friday 13 August 2010 at 5:21 pm

While Hatteras Island residents and visitors have been preoccupied this year with public hearings on ORV rulemaking and the Bonner Bridge replacement, folks on the northern beaches of Dare County have been having a robust debate about beach nourishment.

Specifically, they have been debating the pros and cons of a proposed 1 percent increase in county occupancy taxes to further fund beach nourishment.

Though perhaps we haven’t paid much attention, this tax will affect Hatteras Island businesses and visitors also.

Earlier this year, at the request of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, the North Carolina General Assembly gave the county the ability to raise the current 1 percent occupancy tax by another 1 percent.

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Sea turtles are nesting at Cape Hatteras – and all along the southeast coast -- in record numbers

Thursday 05 August 2010 at 4:58 pm

Cape Hatteras National Seashore has already broken a record this year for sea turtle nests – 131 as of Thursday, Aug. 5.

The previous record was 112 nests in 2008.  In 2009, nests were slightly down, but still above average at 104.

You need not jump to the conclusion that nesting is up because of the court-sanctioned consent decree under which the seashore has been managed since 2008.  That decree banned night driving on the beach during the nesting season and spelled out the closures for nests.

The fact is that sea turtle nesting is up all along the southeast coast in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia on beaches that are not operating under the decree.

It’s just a good year for turtle nesting.

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