Shooting The Breeze


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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It stinks to high heaven, but what is it?

Friday 30 August 2013 at 10:05 am

The talk the past few weeks has been all about the very foul-smelling, brown stuff floating on the surface of the water on the sound and in creeks and canals.

It really stinks.  It collects against bulkheads and floats around on the open water.  When the wind blows it against the shore, it gets really nasty looking, brown and foamy – sometimes blowing through yards.

Folks have been posting about it on Facebook and talking about it wherever neighbors gather.

Most of the complaints seem to be from Avon south through Frisco and maybe to Hatteras Inlet. People have seen it on the open sound, but it has been especially obnoxious along the shoreline and in the canals of various neighborhoods.

These floating,stinking slicks move around as the wind shifts direction, as it has done often in the past few weeks.

Some have reported smelling it as far back as July, but it got really awful last week in Brigands’ Bay in Frisco.  That is where I live, and I can assure you, it does not smell good.

Some residents said it looked like an oil slick, while others insisted that it was effluent from one or more failed septic tanks.  

It was finally reported to the Coast Guard and to Dare County last week.

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Blogging about the blog – again

Friday 23 August 2013 at 5:25 pm

Before I get into this week’s blog, I want to let all of you know that Cape Point access has been restored for ORVs and pedestrians along the shoreline on the north side.

Part of the area is still closed to protect least tern chicks, but the good news is that you can now drive to the Point and walk there without having to wade in the shorebreak.

This week, I am going to write about the blog because last week’s installment, “Waiting for Cape Point to reopen,” has drawn many comments that have verged on being out of control at times.

In fact, several readers commented that I should stop blogging about the beach access issue.

“It seems as if no one on a blog is ever going to respect the opinion of the other regarding ORVs, and I am as guilty of this as the next person,” Billfish wrote in a comment addressed to me. “Maybe it’s time to move the ORV issue into the objective reporting you do in your articles and just let this topic forever fade away on the blog.

“Let the courts and federal legislation decide,” he wrote. “Besides, just think of all the others things we can argue, from flood insurance to the bridge, etc. No good, or healing, can ever come from these ORV-related blogs. It just brings out the devil in all of us and turns what are good people into nasty people because of our strong beliefs. None of us can truly influence the outcome from our postings any way. In the end, it’s your choice, of course, but then I’ve never been shy of adding my two cents.”

A few others agreed.

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Still waiting for Cape Point to open

Friday 16 August 2013 at 4:50 pm

It’s now mid-August, and Cape Point is still closed to off-road vehicles.  

It’s been closed since April 9. And it will apparently be closed at least another week.

In fact, pedestrian access to Cape Point is also closed unless you wade in the shorebreak for a quarter mile or so around a bird closure.

The Point itself is not closed.  It’s just hard to get there.

It’s hard to get there because of shorebird chicks on the ground – not federally protected birds but birds listed by the state as of special concern.

The holdup in granting full access to ORVs and pedestrians to get to Cape Point apparently comes down to two American oystercatcher chicks and four least tern chicks.

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Looking at ORV access to Cape Point and nearby beaches

Friday 09 August 2013 at 5:13 pm

Assuming that access to Cape Point won’t reopen to off-road vehicles for at least another two weeks, this year will set a record for the amount of time that the popular fishing, shelling, and family gathering place has been closed to vehicles since 2008 – and probably in the history of the seashore.

Access to the Point was closed to ORVs on April 9.  Now it appears that the earliest it could reopen is Aug. 23. That would be a total of 4 months and 14 days.

Of course, the Point has not been closed that entire time.  In fact, it’s open now – but ORVs can’t get there.  Pedestrians can get there if they wade in the water around the closed area where two American oystercatcher chicks are foraging in an ORV route.

The chicks are taking short flights, but have not fledged.  The Park Service says they are “heavy” birds and “awkward flyers” that take longer to sustain longer flights.

Shortly, the area where the chicks are foraging could be opened to pedestrians.  However, according to the 2012 final rule and ORV plan, the park must wait until two weeks after the area opens to pedestrians to open it to ORVs.

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Milestones and More

Friday 02 August 2013 at 4:10 pm

Before I move on to court-related beach access news, I want to take just a moment to talk about milestones and memories.

This year marks two important hurricane-related milestones.  It’s the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Emily’s devastation on southern Hatteras, and it’s been 10 years since Hurricane Isabel tore up Hatteras village and cut a new inlet between Hatteras and Frisco.

The last three years have brought us stressful, difficult, and economically devastating hurricane seasons with Earl in 2010, Irene in 2011, and Sandy in 2012.

We are all hoping and praying that this season is quieter on Hatteras and Ocracoke.  We need the break.

Hurricanes Emily and Isabel will not be soon forgotten by any of us who lived through them.

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