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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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The Last Beach Fire? Part II

Tuesday 30 November 2010 at 10:54 am

Last Tuesday, I posted a blog, entitled “The Last Beach Fire?”

Quite a few comments about this were posted at the end of the blog, but the next day I had an e-mail from an Island Free Press reader who was confused by the new regulations proposed in the National Park Service’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.

I answered his question the same day, and immediately got a response with even more questions.

That’s when I decided that maybe this issue needed to be explained better. And I thought the best way to do it was to share the reader’s questions and my responses.

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The Last Beach Fire?

Tuesday 23 November 2010 at 5:13 pm

There were many weighty and complicated issues in the recently released National Park Service Environmental Impact Statement on Off-Road Vehicle Rulemaking at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

But the one I keep coming back to and going over in my mind is the change in beach campfire regulations under the Park Service’s preferred alternative.

I surely did not want to have to tell my grandchildren – or their parents – that there will be no more bonfires when they come here to visit.

Well, maybe, if they start coming for Christmas we can have a beach fire, but not during their two- or three-week summer vacation.

The beach fires are a treasured tradition in our family – and in the families of many other islanders and visitors.

My family started having bonfires on the beach more than 30 years ago when my two children were youngsters.

Now they have nine children between them. And after a hiatus when the kids were really young, those grandchildren have adopted the bonfire tradition as their own.

The beach fire tradition has actually grown into a day-long affair.

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Plover chicks will keep their spacious accommodations

Thursday 18 November 2010 at 6:33 pm

The National Park Service has relented on some of the buffers to protect shorebirds during the nesting season in its recently released Final Environmental Impact Statement.

But it hasn’t budged an inch – so to speak – on the 1,000-meter buffers to protect unfledged piping plover chicks.

Buffer distances were reduced from the draft EIS, issued last March, for American oystercatchers, least terns, and other colonial waterbirds.

“After review of public and agency comments, the Park Service did make some adjustment to the buffer sizes under Alternative F,” according to its response to comments on buffer sizes in Appendix C on Page C-72.

In the DEIS, two buffer distance were offered for two different levels of management – ML1, which called for larger buffers with less intense management, and ML2, which has increased management and monitoring that allows for smaller buffers.

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Can NCDOT and DOI bridge their bureaucratic impasse?

Friday 12 November 2010 at 10:33 am

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., spent the better part of a day last week on the Outer Banks for what was billed as an “information session” on replacing the Bonner Bridge.

It was yet another step in a concerted effort by North Carolina’s congressional delegation and local officials to bring two agencies together, so the much discussed and much studied project to replace the aging bridge over Oregon Inlet can move ahead.

The two agencies involved are the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of the Interior.  The two have been at loggerheads for much of the past 20 years of planning for the replacement bridge, and the conflict escalated over the summer as everyone, especially islanders and visitors who depend on the bridge, hoped the project was finally going to get underway.

In May, NCDOT issued an Environmental Assessment (EA), which it hoped would be last in a long list of environmental studies on how to deal with a bridge that was opened in 1963 with an estimated lifespan of 30 years and the main highway on Hatteras Island that is frequently threatened from overwash from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.

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