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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 Derb and Terry Show gets even more bizarre

Friday 27 July 2012 at 6:01 pm

Just when you think things could not get much stranger on the issue of who’s managing the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle has another status conference on the 2008 consent decree.

The consent decree was the resolution of a lawsuit filed in October, 2007 by the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, against the National Park Service for its lack of an off-road vehicle regulation on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  The groups complained that there were not adequate protections in place for nesting birds and turtles on the seashore.

Boyle allowed the Cape Hatteras Preservation Alliance and Dare and Hyde counties to enter that lawsuit as defendant-intervenors on the side of the National Park Service.

All parties settled the case in April, 2008, with a consent decree that put in place much more restrictive regulations for access to the seashore beaches and much larger buffers for nesting birds and chicks that have closed down large areas of the seashore beach from spring into summer.

The consent decree was supposed to end when the Park Service had a final off-road vehicle plan and special regulation, which became effective on Feb. 15.

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Turtles are nesting in record numbers – just don’t credit the new restrictions

Thursday 19 July 2012 at 4:34 pm

The public relations machines at the Southern Environmental Law Center, the National Audubon Society, and Defenders of Wildlife are probably ramping up even as you read this to declare another victory over off-road vehicles at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The environmental groups sued the National Park Service in 2007 over its lack of protections for nesting birds and turtles, and that legal action ended in a consent decree in federal court that resulted in larger-than-ever closures of seashore beaches to the public.

The consent decree was to be in place until the Park Service instituted an ORV plan and special regulation, which it did Feb. 15.

The consent decree may or may not have ended then, but U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle doesn’t seem in any hurry to let go of the case.

There will be another status hearing in his court on Friday, July 27, about the judge’s continuing oversight of seashore management.

And no doubt Derb Carter or one of his colleagues will be on hand in the courtroom to talk about how successful bird and turtle nesting has been since the environmental groups took over seashore management.

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No quick resolution of Bonner Bridge replacement lawsuit is likely

Friday 13 July 2012 at 2:10 pm

It’s been more than a year since Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, filed a lawsuit to stop the Bonner Bridge replacement project.

The lawsuit, filed on July 1 of last year in the U.S. District Court for North Carolina’s Eastern District, charged that the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration did not adequately assess or address the environmental consequences of building a 2.7 mile bridge parallel to the current one and postponing addressing the problems of erosion on Highway 12 through the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The defendants, the lawsuit says, violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The plaintiffs favor a longer, 17-mile bridge into the Pamlico Sound from Bodie Island to Rodanthe.  Or even better yet, they favor ferry access to Hatteras.

The case was assigned to Judge Louise Flanagan in New Bern, N.C., and it has plodded along through the court system for a year now as both sides have sparred on largely procedural issues.

And nothing much of importance is likely to be decided the rest of this year as attorneys for both sides and the Cape Hatteras Electric Membership Corporation, which is a defendant-intervenor, file various briefs with the court on a schedule set forth by Flanagan in a June 25 order.

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Judge Boyle is still with us and gets an invitation to stay

Thursday 05 July 2012 at 4:38 pm

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle is still with us, and we’ll find out later this month if he will continue to be with us going forward with litigation against the Park Service’s final ORV regulation.

Boyle has set another status conference on a 2008 consent decree that settled a lawsuit against the Park Service by environmental groups for Friday, July 27, at 11 a.m. in the federal courthouse in Raleigh.

However, the question remains in some legal minds whether or not there still is a consent decree.

Boyle’s last status conference was Feb. 24, at which time he decided to keep the consent decree in place and meet with the parties to the lawsuit again in 120 days.

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