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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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Congressional Committee hears testimony on ‘beach roadkill’ bill

Friday 27 April 2012 at 2:21 pm

A house subcommittee today heard testimony on H.R. 4094, a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., to overturn the final off-road vehicle plan, end a court-agreed-to consent decree, and return management at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to the 2007 Interim Protected Species Management Plan.

The bill would “authorize pedestrian and motorized vehicular access” at the seashore and may also be called the “Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act.” If the bill passes, the interim strategy would remain in place until the Park Service devises another long-term plan that is less restrictive.

Apparently H.R. 4094, and a companion bill introduced yesterday in the Senate, have been dubbed the “roadkill” bill by the environmental groups that sued the Park Service in 2007 over the interim plan and lack of an ORV plan at the seashore. But more about that at the end of this blog.

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Beach (access) music

Friday 20 April 2012 at 4:50 pm

“Beach music” will take on a new meaning on Saturday, May 5, when some 40 Outer Banks musicians will be playing all afternoon and into the night to raise money to restore more reasonable public access to the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

 

The First Annual Cape Hatteras Music Festival is being organized by the Cape Hatteras Music Guild to benefit the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance in its legal fight against the National Park Service and its off-road vehicle management plan and final rule.

 

“Think of it as a nine-hour music jam,” says Mike Fahey of Frisco, a retired businessman and amateur musician, who is spearheading the festival for the guild.

 

The gates will open at 1 p.m. at the Fessenden Center in Buxton, and the musicians will be jamming from 1:30 until 11 p.m.

 

“They are well-known local acts,” says Fahey, “and they are all Outer Banks musicians.”

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A bill hearing, ferry taxes, signs, and lawsuits

Friday 13 April 2012 at 5:11 pm

This is the week that Cape Point closed “temporarily” to off-road vehicle and pedestrian access because a pair of piping plovers is courting in an area of the beach between Ramp 44 and the Point.
The Park Service’s ORV plan requires a mandatory buffer of 75 meters around the birds, which has cut off access.
There have been two piping plover nests at Cape Point so far this year, and one has been lost already, perhaps in last week’s especially high lunar tide.  One nest remains.
Last week, about 20 groups of folks in ORVs were stranded at the Point because the high lunar tide cut off the beach at the “narrows.” With the natural resource protection in place, the folks had no passage off on dry sand.
The Park Service declined to allow them to pass through the resource closure.  One man who was stranded with his wife and two young children tells his story in a guest column on the Commentary and Letters Page.

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The rules of engagement

Thursday 05 April 2012 at 5:04 pm

Most of my last blogs on the issue of beach access have been frustrating – to me and to some of The Island Free Press readers.

“I don't read Irene's Blog to learn about the island's important issues,” one reader said in a comment posted today. I skim over the comments to laugh at the KEYBOARD SPEWED HATE/PERSONAL ATTACK forum that it has become.”

Now, this is really depressing, since “Shooting the Breeze” is intended to be a forum to present and discuss the island’s important issues.

As one of my detractors noted in comments this week, “If the editor was really serious about having civil discourse, she would find guest speakers of different viewpoints and scrupulously edit the uncivil comments or do away with the comment sections altogether.”

So, I am taking the advice given me by this anonymous commenter and by a trusted friend and cracking down on the comments.

Going forward, I will edit the uncivil comments more scrupulously and brutally than I have in the past.

I have been editing the comments regularly, but I have preferred to be lenient to make sure everyone gets his or her chance to contribute an opinion, ask a question, or otherwise participate.

However, too many comments are full of coded obscenities and personal attacks. I understand why folks no longer want to read them.

No more.

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