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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 final farewell for the Frisco Pier

Friday 25 October 2013 at 9:04 pm

The Cape Hatteras Fishing Pier in Frisco, known to most as just the Frisco Pier, has been a southern Hatteras Island landmark for 50 years.

It’s been beloved by locals and visitors, anglers and sightseers.

In recent years, it’s been badly battered by hurricanes and northeasters and only part of it is still standing.  It has not been open to the public in about five years.

The owners and park officials have been working for those years to reach a solution to the now unsightly landmark that has become a public safety hazard.

This week the National Park Service announced the final “hurrah” for the pier.

The concessions contract with the owners has run out and the Park Service has purchased the property. Park officials intend the remove what’s left of the pier and the pier house and to replace it with a public beach access.

The Park Service says it expects to announce a timeline for the removal in a couple months.

That’s not what the owners intended or wanted, they say.

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Better than a hurricane

Friday 18 October 2013 at 5:34 pm

In the last hours of Wednesday, Oct. 16, as most members of Congress hustled to come up with a way to end the federal government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, two powerful House committees spent five hours grilling National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis on why the parks and monuments were closed up tight.

The hearing was set by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Natural Resources and titled “As Difficult as Possible: the National Park Services Implementation of the Government Shutdown.”

I’ve never had any warm and fuzzy feelings about Jonathan Jarvis.  In fact, he strikes me as rather arrogant. And, certainly, many of us on Hatteras and Ocracoke feel that the Park Service can definitely overreach – as it did with the Off-Road Vehicle Plan and Final Rule here on the seashore.

However, this partisan media spectacle was over the top.  For five hours, Republicans made speeches – as though they had no part in the shutdown – and grilled Jarvis.  Some were downright mean and nasty.

Then Democrats made speeches supporting Jarvis by noting such things as that there were other significant government programs shut down and that the NPS budget is an ever-shrinking small percentage of overall federal expenditures.

However, people love their parks and veterans being turned away from war memorials make great photo ops.

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Shutdown

Friday 11 October 2013 at 5:49 pm

The federal government shutdown is in its 11th day and heading into a second weekend of national park closures.

Here at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, all of the park facilities, lighthouses, parking areas, and beaches are closed to the public.

So far, the islands and its visitors have been weathering the storm – some better than others.

Visitors are frustrated and disgusted at the shutdown, but seem to be willing to make the best of their vacations.  This week their frustration was caused as much by the weather gods as it was by the U.S. Congress.  

While last week was sunny with blue skies and light winds, this week has been stormy with two days of high winds and torrential rain, followed by two gloomy, gray days.

We are fortunate at Cape Hatteras that there is no chained entrance to the park and that a skeleton staff of law enforcement rangers are not enforcing – maybe because they can’t – the edict from NPS headquarters to ticket even pedestrians on the beach.

Our park staff is drawing the line at driving ORVs past barricades or chained ramps onto the beach. Those who want to go to the beach to walk, fish, surf, kiteboard, or just hang out are parking in the “closed” parking lots and walking over to the beach.

The folks who are most hurt in this shutdown are anglers and the businesses that cater to them.

At the height of the fall fishing season, fishermen cannot load up their trucks with gear and head to the beach in search of just the right fishing hole.

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Mad Dogs and Zealots

Friday 04 October 2013 at 4:28 pm

Here on Hatteras and Ocracoke in recent years we’ve had more than the usual number of reasons to feel that we are under siege by forces beyond our control.

For the last three years, we’ve seen hurricanes take out our fall shoulder season.  Two – Earl and Irene -- wiped out the important Labor Day weekend.  Two – Irene and Sandy -- seriously damaged Highway 12 on northern Hatteras Island and then piled up sand in the ferry channel that made the crossing from Hatteras to Ocracoke difficult, and at times, impossible.

Furthermore, environmentalists have succeeded in getting large areas of the seashore closed down for birds and turtles and have also tried to stop the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s plan to replace the aging and decrepit Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet.

The irony that Mother Nature has been kinder to us this year but that we are still under siege has not been lost on anyone on these islands.

This week, we have been under siege by mad dogs and zealots.

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