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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 Economy and the Environment

Friday 25 April 2014 at 6:14 pm

If you live on Hatteras Island, you live in one of the most dynamic natural environments on the U.S. East Coast. And you also live in a very economically challenged community.

Businesses in this tourism and fishing economy are seemingly constantly under siege by Mother Nature, federal regulators, and outside environmental groups that want to protect our natural resources at any cost to our livelihoods.

If you read the comments on this blog and other online forums, you might come away thinking that these are extremely polarizing issues – long bridge vs. short bridge, dredging inlets, nourishing beaches, protecting nesting shorebirds and turtles.

However, maybe this isn’t so, says Dr. Christine Avenarius, associate professor of anthropology at East Carolina University.

Avenarius and five ECU graduate students spent last summer interviewing 208 Dare County residents on their perceptions of the relationship between environmental change and the regional economy. The study was part of the university’s project to restart the dialogue about coastal management policies.

“Dare County residents’ evaluations of their natural and economic environment,” she says, “are less polarized than predicted.  It’s not a matter of promoters of economic growth against protectors of nature.”

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Where we are on beach nourishment for Hatteras

Friday 18 April 2014 at 7:19 pm

The issue of nourishing Hatteras Island beaches has been front and center on the social media this week with petitions to the governor and other officials and a claim that a breach or inlet north of Buxton is imminent.

Islanders want beach nourishment to protect Highway 12, and property owners in especially threatened areas are desperate to slow the beach erosion that threatens their land, their livelihood, and their investments.

That’s very understandable.

However, you might get the impression from some posts that you have read that local, state, and federal officials are sitting on their hands when it comes to putting sand on our beaches.

This is not true.

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The troubled debate about Bonner Bridge replacement

Friday 11 April 2014 at 3:21 pm

Last week, WRAL-TV, a Raleigh CBS station, weighed in on the contentious debate about replacing the Bonner Bridge, Hatteras Island’s only land link with the mainland, with a documentary entitled, “Bridge over Troubled Water.”

The documentary is very nicely photographed and written and focuses on three Hatteras islanders who rely on Highway 12 and the bridge to carry them across Oregon Inlet to connect them to the rest of the world.

The story of these folks is the untold story of the long-overdue replacement of the decrepit bridge, which is being held together with “Band-Aids” and is mired in lawsuits about how it will proceed – according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s plan or the wishes of outside environmental groups that have sued to stop that plan.

Beth Midgett, chairwoman of the Dare County Citizens Committee to Replace the Bonner Bridge and co-founder of the Bridge Moms Facebook group, says she was excited by the first 12 minutes of the documentary.

Finally, she thought the stories of ordinary folks whose lives, livelihoods, and health and safety are being threatened and being held hostage will be told.

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The case for community newspapers

Friday 04 April 2014 at 4:24 pm

Last night when I was watching television, a national cable-news show host paid homage to community newspapers at the end of her hour-long program.

She was noting that she and other national news folks were reporting on the problems that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had with “Bridge Gate,” the big traffic tie-up on the George Washington Bridge last September.

However, she said, the down-and-dirty, day-in and day-out work was being done by community newspapers in New Jersey.

And she thanked those newspapers for their work.

This message meant something to me.

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