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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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The truth about the highway and the refuge

Friday 29 March 2013 at 4:43 pm

Earlier this week, Jason Rylander, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, sent an urgent message to the group’s members.

He urged them to comment on the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s plan to replace a temporary bridge at Pea Island Inlet with a longer, higher permanent bridge.

The permanent bridge is part of DOT’s plan to replace the aged Bonner Bridge and to bridge hot spots on Highway 12, especially in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Rylander’s group and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, have filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the project.

Rylander’s e-mail was full of the same propaganda and half-truths that have been a signature part of the effort by these outside, special interest groups to not only stop the bridge replacement project but also to severely limit off-road vehicle use in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Rylander writes to the members that the DOT plan would turn the refuge into a “permanent construction zone, ultimately ruining the beauty of the refuge, destroying crucial wildlife habitat and failing to provide a safe, reliable, long-term solution to the project.”

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Cat lovers take out Audubon’s Ted Williams

Friday 22 March 2013 at 4:29 pm

Cat lovers nationwide have managed to accomplish what advocates for more reasonable beach access could not – take out Audubon Magazine contributor Ted Williams.

Williams has written numerous articles and opinion pieces in the magazine and other publications about off-road vehicles destroying public lands, especially at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  He has claimed that “motorheads,” as he calls them, have run over shorebird nests and chicks and that the new ORV rule and plan at the seashore is responsible for more successful nesting numbers.

His articles have been published under provocative headlines, such as “Beach Bums,” “The Outer Banks of North Carolina become a blood beachhead,” and “The battle over North Carolina beaches continues.”

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A message to our visitors: We’re open for business

Friday 15 March 2013 at 4:52 pm

It’s been a tough fall and winter for those of you who love to visit Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

First, Hurricane Sandy damaged Highway 12 on northern Hatteras.  Sandy was followed by several northeasters and the result was that the road was closed for almost two months.

A coastal storm earlier this month brought soundside flooding on Wednesday, March 6, and then was slow to move to the northeast.  Heavy seas overwashed the highway at high tide for almost a week.

Shoaling in the main channel in Hatteras Inlet kept the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry closed down for almost a month.

We know from the posts many of you have made on websites, Facebook pages, and message boards that you are worried about the vacation you have planned this year or are worried about whether to plan a vacation here this year.

We have a message for you as you look forward to the first day of spring on Wednesday and Easter on March 31, which is the traditional beginning of the tourist season on the islands.

We are open and ready for you.

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Who owns the eroded beaches in front of Hatteras villages?

Friday 08 March 2013 at 5:35 pm

In my blog of Feb. 7 about a meeting between local reporters and the new Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Barclay Trimble, I wrote about the issue of ownership of the beach in areas where there has been erosion since the park was established.

Trimble said that the National Park Service considers that it retains jurisdiction over the foreshore – the wet beach between the mean high and mean low tide lines – in northern Rodanthe, even though the land has eroded to the west and the original park boundaries are now out in the ocean.

Trimble said he based his view on a 2009 opinion from the Park Service’s solicitors’ office.

The opinion has been seldom, if ever, mentioned in the past and came to light only after questions arose over whose responsibility it is to clean up the debris on the beach when structures fall into the ocean.

Park Service staff members have described the opinion to reporters, but Trimble has declined to release the document to the media.  The National Park Service, he says, considers the opinion is not public because of attorney-client privilege.

After requests by three reporters for the opinion, on which the park is basing public policy, were denied, the issue was handed over to the office of U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.

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We can overcome even the latest economic setback

Friday 01 March 2013 at 4:34 pm

Apparently, sometime before midnight, President Obama will sign into law the forced, automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration.

It’s a safe bet that, no matter what your political persuasion, you are disgusted that Congress, which no longer settles political differences by compromising, went home for the weekend and let this happen as planned today.

Members of Congress, by the way, will still get their full paychecks as every government agency begins the painful process of cutting money out of its 2013 budget.

The very idea of across-the-board cuts, without any thought to the impacts of those cuts – especially to public health and safety and our fragile economic recovery -- is just plain stupid. It’s a stupid way to address America’s fiscal issues.

Sequestration is nothing but a dumb word to describe what will be self-inflicted damage to Americans and the economy.

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