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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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Cape Hatteras National Seashore is still the best beach vacation

Wednesday 30 May 2012 at 5:02 pm

By all accounts, Memorial Day weekend was an encouraging start to the summer season.

The weather was good overall – great beach weather on Saturday and Monday and a few showers Sunday morning into early afternoon.  Tropical Storm Beryl off the southeast coast increased the seas and the rip current threat, but did not cause heavy rain and wind until today.

Even though there were unprecedented beach closures on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, everyone who wanted to get to the beach by off-road vehicle or on foot found a place to go.

The beaches that were open to ORVs were crowded, as they always are on holiday weekends, but there were no ramps closed because the beach carrying capacity had been reached.

According to chief enforcement ranger Paul Stevens, the Park Service counted about 350 vehicles at Ramp 49 in Frisco, and more than 300 at Bodie Island.  These were the two most popular areas for ORVs.

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Seashore chief Murray will retire – with his mission here accomplished

Thursday 17 May 2012 at 6:35 pm

Outer Banks Group superintendent Mike Murray announced to his staff yesterday that he will retire on July 31.

Murray, 57, made the announcement in his signature low-key manner – with a short e-mail:

“After 34 years with the National Park Service, I plan to retire as of July 31, 2012. It has been my privilege to serve as the Superintendent of the Outer Banks Group for the past six and half years. I have greatly appreciated the dedication and hard work of the park staff in serving park visitors and protecting park resources during my time here. We have accomplished a great deal together. There will be more information forthcoming in the weeks ahead as to how the Southeast Regional Office will provide for continuity of leadership at the Group until a new Superintendent is selected. Meanwhile, we are heading into a busy Summer season with lots to keep us busy. If I had but one wish for my remaining days as an employee of the National Park Service, it would be that each of you stay safe, happy, healthy, and productive as you conduct your duties and live your lives in the days ahead.”

There was no media release.  Murray is out of the office this week and was not available for comment.

The news was met with little surprise on Hatteras and Ocracoke, where folks understood that Murray was sent here for a reason – to implement an off-road management plan for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

He accomplished that mission.  The plan and final regulation were effective on Feb. 15.

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Ferry tales

Friday 11 May 2012 at 4:30 pm

We all love to hate earmarks.

Those funds allocated in the federal budget by individual legislators for special projects or purposes in their districts are a waste of taxpayer money, right?

Some of the more infamous examples of egregious earmarks over the years include funding for a teapot museum in western North Carolina and an indoor rain forest in Iowa.

These projects, most of us think, are a waste of taxpayer money and contribute to the federal deficit that is spiraling out of control.

The regular grumbling about “pork barrel” projects rose to a crescendo with the advent of the Tea Party and during the 2010 elections, when Republicans, many of them from the Tea Party, seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives and many state legislatures.

In 2010, Congress passed a moratorium on earmarks. They were no longer allowed in the federal budget.  

Some members of both parties at the time didn’t think a blanket ban on earmarks was such a great idea, and more are starting to agree with them.  In fact, there is a movement afoot in the current Congress to take another look at earmarks.

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A conversation with the seashore superintendent

Friday 04 May 2012 at 4:17 pm

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray and some of his staff members met earlier this week with local reporters for a media roundtable discussion about park issues.

Murray regularly meets with reporters, usually several times a year, an arrangement that works well for park staff and for reporters.  

This week’s meeting, like most of them, included a wide range of topics and questions – from permits to citations to new infrastructure that is needed to support the Park Service’s off-road vehicle plan and final rule.

Today’s blog includes highlights from the meeting.

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