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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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Mike Murray receives award for not-quite-finished ORV plan

Thursday 31 March 2011 at 5:07 pm

The National Park Service last week announced that it has honored Outer Banks Group Superintendent Mike Murray with the Director’s Award for Superintendent of the Year for Natural Resource Protection.

I spent the end of last week working on a blog, posted last Friday, on the delays in the seashore’s off-road vehicle rulemaking, which will affect access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches, for both ORVs and pedestrians, for years to come.

So I didn’t get around to publishing the media release on the NPS Natural Resources Award.

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More delays before we see the final ORV rule?

Friday 25 March 2011 at 4:50 pm

In the 2008 consent decree that ended a lawsuit against the National Park Service by environmental groups, park officials were required to complete an off-road vehicle management plan by Dec. 31 and to have a final special regulation implemented by April 1.

As we all have probably noticed by now, in the three years since the consent decree was signed, the Park Service hasn’t even come close.

At a status conference in early December of last year, a U.S. attorney explained to federal Judge Terrence Boyle, who is overseeing the decree, that the Park Service was working really hard but was not going to meet those deadlines.

The attorney for the National Park Service told the judge that the final ORV rule would not be available until April or May and that the implementation of the plan wouldn’t come until sometime after Labor Day.

Later at a meeting in mid-December with reporters, seashore Superintendent Mike Murray said a proposed rule was expected in February or March, a final rule in the summer, and implementation in the fall.

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Killing fish for fun instead of for food, Part II

Friday 18 March 2011 at 3:52 pm They’re back.

 

We knew they would be.

 

Groups such as the Coastal Conservation Association and the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group are making another brazen attempt to reserve three of North Carolina’s most sought after fish for recreational anglers only.

 

A bipartisan group of representatives in the North Carolina General Assembly introduced House Bill 353 on Tuesday, March 15. The four who introduced it are Republican Reps. Darrell McCormick, Dan Ingle, and Ruth Samuelson and Democratic Rep. Rick Glazier. Glazier is from Fayetteville. The other three are from Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and Burlington.

 

As of today, there were 17 co-sponsors, both Republican and Democratic, and most represent inland districts.

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Big beach closures, fees for beach driving, new tolls on ferries – where will it end?

Friday 11 March 2011 at 6:45 pm Between your beach closures and proposed ferry fees, why don't you just hang a sign that says, “Tourists or visitors not welcome here!”

You have allowed your treasured seashore to be turned into a wildlife refuge where only birds are welcome, other animals trapped or shot and killed, and humans not allowed. Shame on you! It is a crime against humanity what has been allowed to take place on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands. Shame on you again for not fighting for your treasured seashore that people have enjoyed for decades! The once thriving islands have turned into ghost towns because of the lack of visitors. You have additionally alienated the physically challenged from areas of your beaches, as well as older folks. Shame on you again. I wonder what tax base the birds will create because shortly that is all that will remain!

The ferry fee issue is just the tip of the iceberg for you folks, and you deserve every problem you have allowed to happen. Shame on you. Thinking of what you have allowed to transpire makes me sick to my stomach! We will be taking our treasured, hard-earned vacation budget and spending it in a more tourist-friendly atmosphere!

--Island Free Press reader from Fredericksburg, Va.

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Piping plover chicks move around, but not nearly 1,000 meters

Friday 04 March 2011 at 10:21 am

On Thursday, April 7, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle will preside over another status conference on the consent decree that settled a lawsuit against the National Park Service by environmental groups.

As part of that consent decree the Park Service must issue annual reports to the courts and all the parties to the lawsuit on the status of protected species and the effort to finalize an off-road vehicle plan at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The reports are due by Jan. 31.

Each year since the 2008 consent decree, Boyle has summoned the parties to the court to discuss the reports and be updated on the ORV rulemaking process.

So we assume that is what he wants to hear about next month in Raleigh.

If his past conferences are any indication, Boyle will have a pleasant chat with Derb Carter, attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.  He might ask seashore Superintendent Mike Murray some questions.  In the past, he has liked to ask about law enforcement and citations and dwelled on problems at Bodie Island spit.

He may declare – as SELC has—the consent decree a great success at saving nesting birds and turtles, even though Murray has said repeatedly that one – or even two seasons do not necessarily indicate a trend.

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