Inconvenient Truths - Shooting The Breeze


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Inconvenient Truths

Friday 21 June 2013 at 4:07 pm.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, Audubon North Carolina, and Defenders of Wildlife need some new writers – or at least some new ideas -- for their press releases.

They have been issuing the same release for at least five years now, even though it has been noted here and in other publications that their storyline is not exactly truthful.  That’s about the most polite way I can say that they are stretching and exaggerating the facts to suit their view of off-road vehicle policy on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

When the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved an amended bill that would overturn the Park Service’s ORV plan and final rule at the seashore, they dusted off the same press release, put a new paragraph at the top, and sent it out – apparently to selected media outlets.  Island Free Press has asked to be added to that list, but we still do not get the releases.

Sorry to have to bore you again with the comments of Julie Youngman, Jason Rylander, and Walker Golder, but here is what the three had to say about the Senate committee’s action.

“The existing wildlife protection measures are already based on the best available scientific information," said Julie Youngman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “We will work to make sure the plan remains scientifically sound. By requiring the National Park Service to redo what it’s already done, the bill wastes taxpayer time and resources.”

“The existing National Park Service plan is a win-win for the seashore,” said Jason Rylander, senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. “The plan restored wildlife to the seashore while increasing visitation and tourism. The vast majority of seashore visitors do not come to drive on the beaches. This bill seeks to fix something that isn’t broken.”

“The National Park Service’s current regulation offers a balanced use of the seashore,” said Walker Golder of Audubon North Carolina. “The current safeguards--put in place after much stakeholder input, public discussion, and more than 21,000 public comments—allow for responsible off-road vehicle use, provide areas for people who want to safely enjoy the beach without the danger of trucks, and provide basic protection for birds, sea turtles and other wildlife. The bill sets a horrible precedent for the National Park Service.”

Then the release goes on to talk about the great nesting success of shorebirds and sea turtles under the consent decree that settled the environmental groups’ lawsuit against the Park Service and then the 2012 ORV plan and final rule.

The groups continue to harp on this same theme, even though others continue to point out some inconvenient truths.

Sea turtle nesting has been up the past several years all along the southeast coast from Florida to North Carolina – not just in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore because of the effort of these outside, special-interest groups.

Former seashore superintendent, Mike Murray, who oversaw the consent decree and the implementation of the ORV plan and final rule said in every appearance before federal District Court Judge Terrence Boyle that the year-to-year increases in nesting could not be attributed to any one factor, but instead must be viewed over time.

This is from an IFP report on an April 2011 status conference on the consent decree in Boyle’s courtroom:

“The three years of the consent decree, Murray stated, were the best for turtle breeding success in many years.  But, he added quickly, all those successes resulted from a combination of factors, and no single factor can be pinpointed as the linchpin.  Weather, for example, was favorable in 2010, with no head-on hits from hurricanes and little damage to breeding sites from northeasters.”

And this is from a March 2010 status conference:

“Boyle asked Murray if the 2009 improvement wasn’t a good demonstration of the earlier degradation of habitat from beach driving.  Murray replied that in earlier years there had been a statewide decline in nesting shorebirds and waterbirds, that weather is always a factor, and that there is natural cycle in nesting behavior.”

Piping plover nesting success has been cyclical on the seashore, as it has been on Cape Lookout National Seashore to our south.  Cape Lookout is in the process of developing an ORV plan, but does not now have one.  It has greater piping plover nesting success than Cape Hatteras.

Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how Carter, Rylander, and Golder explain what looks to be – at this point at least – less successful nesting numbers than last year.

As of this week’s Park Service resource management summary, there have been 43 total sea turtle nests on the seashore.  At this time last year, there were 74 nests.  That is about a 58 percent decrease.

As of this week’s resource management summary, there have been nine piping plover nests to date.  At this time last year, there had been 21.

There are no active nests right now and three active broods of piping plovers on the seashore.  Last year this time, there were still five active nests and the same three active broods.

This time last year, two piping plover chicks had fledged.  This year none have fledged yet.

The legislation approved by the Senate committee this week is a victory of sorts for those who advocate for more reasonable ORV access than the plan allows.  It’s not as good as overturning the plan, but it is recognition by lawmakers – both Republicans and Democrats -- that there are some aspects of the plan that need another look.

S 486, as amended, would force the Secretary of Interior “to review and modify” buffers within 180 days.  In addition, the Secretary would have to confer with the state of North Carolina on protections for shorebirds that are not federally listed as endangered or threatened.

The Secretary would also have to start a public process to consider changes to the plan, such as the time beaches open to ORVs in the morning, fewer seasonal closures to ORVs, and the size and location of vehicle-free areas.

And the Secretary would have to report to Congress within one year on the measures taken to implement the bill.

Changes to the ORV plan and final rule were to be considered in five years from the 2012 implementation, and what this bill does is speed up that process.

The legislation was approved by the entire committee of 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans.  It will be an uphill battle to get it to the Senate floor for a vote, but at least now it’s possible.

The biggest problem I can see with the amended legislation is that it opens the door for the Park Service to once again hide behind the claim that buffers are based on peer-reviewed science.

The legislation reads that the Secretary shall review the buffers “in accordance with peer-reviewed scientific data.”

The Department of Interior and Park Service continue to insist that the plan and final rule are based on “peer-reviewed” science.  They clearly are not.

At the end of this blog are several links to blogs that I have written explaining why the science is not “peer-reviewed”

It may be “the best available science,” but the point is that it’s not good enough.

If you support this legislation as amended, you will have to continue to contact your senators to let them know you want to see a floor vote on S 486 – and passage of the legislation.


Click here to read the entire press release by environmental groups.

Some previous blogs on peer review:

Keep asking them to show us the science

They are showing us the science?

They are showing us the science? Part 2



So what happens if the scientific peer review determines greater distances and restrictions are needed than presently determined?

billfish - 21-06-’13 16:47

I am afraid this mess has taken it’s toll on us. My family has been coming to the OBX since 1980 and this is to be our last horaah. Driving on the beach to find the perfect spot for a day at the beach was always a must do. Fishing, flying kites, picnicking, swimming and just being on the beach was a tradition. And now the fun is gone. The outer banks held my sanity. Now it just adds to insanity. I hate this!

Ellen - 21-06-’13 18:27

I think Mr. or Mrs. billfish has a point. What if they make a 1/2 mile buffer in all directions? Would they close highway 12 and the sound side? Very good point he or she brings up.

Mike - 21-06-’13 18:45
Al Adam

The Alinsky mantra is to keep repeating the same lies until they become accepted as truth — by those unable tothink for themselves . A successful strategy for the weak of mind. When motives exceed sense there is usually a hidden agenda. If the perps have spelled out their Agenda 21 program and people still don’t understand the end game they are helplessly dependent upon corrupt authority —- just a shame and a departure from American independence and individualism.

Al Adam - 21-06-’13 19:04

We feel the beaches around Buxton’s pain. Now the NPS is closing down the ferry service by locals to Cape Point in order to eventually to stop everyone from getting on our beaches at the Southern Outer Banks, for no reason other than control.

Wayne - 21-06-’13 20:05

Mr. Adams,
Wow, that’s heavy. And to think all we really thought we were blabbin’ about was surf fishing with a truck.

billfish - 21-06-’13 20:46

Mike, the 1000 meter buffer currently in effect is over 1/2 mile.

Bud - 21-06-’13 20:51

1000 meters = 3280.84 feet
1 mile = 5280 feet
piping plover = 7.25 inches
USFWS PIPL recommended buffer size = 142 feet

Just say’n!

AnonVisitor - 21-06-’13 22:32

The USFWS recommended chick buffers are exactly what are in place at CAHA. The exception to USFWS buffers is that CAHA added 25 meters to the nest buffers.

The vehicle free area should extend 1000 meters on each side of a line drawn through the nest site and perpendicular to the long axis of the beach. The resulting 2000 meter-wide area of protected habitat for plover chicks should extend from the ocean-side low water line to the bay-side low water line or to the farthest extent of dune habitat if no bay-side intertidal habitat exists. However, vehicles may be allowed to pass through portions of the protected area that are considered inaccessible to plover chicks because of steep topography, dense vegetation, or other naturally-occurring obstacles.

FKAA - 22-06-’13 00:13
salvo jimmy

The inconvenient truth to the FKAA quote lies in the “OR” within the referenced document protections. It’s just below what is quoted from the document.

salvo jimmy - 22-06-’13 07:29
Hawk Hawkins

In Billfish’s tiny,narrow world,this is still all just about a DMV type motor vehicle issue.Carping Audubons stats about ninety million Americans this and that.Some people simply can’t see what is happening all over the country,if not the world.Imagine his surprise when the gov’t.relocates him to Norfolk!Wow,man!Now THAT’S HEAVY!

Hawk Hawkins - 22-06-’13 08:18

2000 meters = 1.2 miles

1.2 mile closure for a brood of not endangered and steadily recovering (should be delisted) bird.

Per USFWS misguidance, those 2000 meter wide buffers could be reduced to as little as 200 meters. Per USFWS the NPS has authority of modify these buffers, there is no law/regulation requiring the buffers this large.

The steep beach, large densely vegetatively covered dune line at the Cape Point narrows somehow is not good enough for the NPS.

I’d sure love to see a picture of the brood foraging along Cape Point’s east facing beach wrack line.

AnonVisitor - 22-06-’13 10:28

The compromise says “modify” the plover buffers based on the science. Modify does not mean reduce. It can also mean increase. The plover chick buffer is 1000 meters. The scientists report plover chicks here have moved over 1200 meters. If the plover chicks here only moved 100 meters I see how you can say the buffer should be modified to 100 meters based on the science. But if the science says the plover chicks here have actually moved 1200 meters seems the reverse is also true and the buffer should be modified to 1200 meters. Seems like we might end up with bigger buffers in this so-called compromise. Maybe someone more in the know can enlighten us on this.

justwonderin - 22-06-’13 11:23
Who's representing us?

Why did our leaders sign off on this compromise? We could end up in worse place than before!!!!
This is just like the Consent Decree!!!! Just because Warren Judge approved it doesn’t mean we agree. We have been down this path before and look where it got us
We need this Bill back to the way it was
.no compromise

Who's representing us? - 22-06-’13 12:00

More inconvenient truths. Both the piping plover recovery plan and the USGS protocols were peer reviewed. And their are plenty of other peer reviewed studies on impacts of driving on beach nesting species. Methinks the government’s definition of peer review, and not Irene’s, is the one that counts. Another fact: the unlimited permit system and total mileage available for driving at Hatteras is one of the least restrictive of any other seashore on the east coast. The rule is here to stay. It might get tweaked but it isn’t going anywhere.

DeNile... - 22-06-’13 14:01

It is a motor vehicle issue— with mph limits, beach parking laws, access laws, driving when pedestrians are present, driving on the right side,
dead ends, no drinking, seat belts required, mandatory vehicle equipment, vehicle size requirements, license and registration, fees,
citations and violations, signage…etc. Of course I could ridicuously extrapolate the whole thing to become the reason why I dislike (your combative agenda here) but now that becomes infinitely obtuse, now doesn’t it?

billfish - 22-06-’13 14:32
Sam Bricker

1/2 mile, 1000 meters, 1200 meters, 2000 meters, lies, truths, beaches open, beaches closed, roads closed, roads open, ferries running long route, ferries running short route, ferries not running at all, Route 12 open, Route 12 closed, Route 12 gone, ad nauseum. Ellen hit the nail on the head. Vacation is supposed to be a respite from problems and uncertainty; not piling more on top of what one already has. And to pay big bucks for the privilege of more hassles (no I won’t mention the NC Highway Patrol), it’s too much to ask of any sane person. Ellen, I hope you and your family enjoy your last Outer Banks vacation, my family did 2 years ago.

Sam Bricker - 22-06-’13 14:35

Interesting about the turtles….I believe that the reproduction cycle for turtles is every 3 years, If that is true and NPS keeps losing turtle young the way they do at Cape Hatteras there aren’t as many that can return and lay eggs. The numbers are going to go down no matter what beach access is allowed.

Wonder what would happen if a plover nest was found within 1000 meters of the lighthouse?

Hatrasfevr - 22-06-’13 14:42

Hopefully they will close the lighthouse because of chicks. It has not been used as an aid to navigation for decades. So there will be no harm.

Bud - 22-06-’13 15:20
Who's Representing us 2

I am going to second the comments of Who’s representing us.

The plovers move over 1000 meters here in CAHA because of the gross neglect of the interior habitat and mosh by the NPS. If the area around the pond and other places have vegetation removed than the plovers can have their preferred habitat, with the highest fledgling rates, and the people can access their RECREATIONAL AREA.

Had the NPS not been lazy, negligent, incompetant, and derrilict in their duties of maintaining CWB habitat, we would have great nesting success, wildlife protection, and beach access.

The protection protocols listed in USFWPPRC are merely suggestions to management. Those buffer distances could be legally applied in a Wildlife Refuge (where resource management is the priority), but not in a RECREATIONAL AREA.

Interim Plan with permits would meet the Executive Orders and be lawful with the intent of the enabling legislation.

Who's Representing us 2 - 22-06-’13 15:34

Yes SJ did you see the caveats associated with the “or”? As well as the fact several people have told me Fed property owners aren’t eligible for that exception.

@Who’s Representing us 2

The original error was the creation of the pond in the first place. So I agree, in part.

FKAA - 22-06-’13 17:44

We’ve had quite a few PO’d folks in this weekend. They bought their permit weeks ago for the year, showed up for a weekend of fishing, drove to the one last open ramp near the fish cleaning tables, and it’s closed. Lighthouse beach today, people fishing on top of the surfers and the swimmers. Great.

bbc - 22-06-’13 22:33
salvo jimmy

The “modifications” to lessen the plover buffer distances per FKAA’s referenced document are allowed by using increased monitoring of the chicks. And any reduced buffer is a “rolling” buffer, just like the current 1000m buffer. Both move as the chicks move.

Re the protocols and peer review. Many of the reviewers were involved in actually assisting with developing the protocols. So the actual “independence” of the reviews is certainly questionable. Might meet the letter of the law but doesn’t exactly pass the “appearance of conflict” concept.

salvo jimmy - 23-06-’13 08:16

Wait a minute. Everybody that’s pro access has been demanding more peer science review. Now if the peer science review doesn’t go the way you want it, then peer science review is a bad idea? Conclusion:Pro access is about wanting to have more beach access irregardless of studies or findings. Let ‘s just agree to call the truth the truth. Simply stated: just keep the point open to trucks because we like to hobby fish there with a motor vehicle by our side. Besides we know that driving mass tonnage of vehicles on the beach with air down really doesn’t do any harm to wildlife. Now that type of self-gratifying thinking is the real inconvenient truth.

billfish - 23-06-’13 11:00
Richie Palmer

Where do they get off saying most visitors don’t drive on the beach … That’s the only reason i come down is pick the perfect spot away from others to enjoy my time I’ve worked all year for …….

Richie Palmer - 23-06-’13 11:54
Frisco Steve

Hate to say this. but the Blowfish might be right. This legislation could go horribly wrong. Consider the characters involved: moneyed self-appointed elites, bone-headed judges. crony legislators and a park bureaucracy with its own agenda. I am not hopeful.

Ellen, I feel your pain. Used to be, driving over the bridge and smelling the salt air lifted my spirits. Seeing people on the shoreline fishing, kids wading in the water , everybody enjoying themselves made me happy. Now you can’t even beach a kayak there. The creators of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore are rolling over in their graves.

A word about some of the bad actors in this tragedy:

Enviros live in a fantasy world. I never thought I’d be in opposition to so-called environmentalists, but these people are way off course. Just think back when they wanted to hold their bird festival in spite of road problems with special access. This is what they want, their own little preserve with residents and seashore visitors left out. In the Midwest, government and birders believe it’s OK to kill Ketrels; small, beautiful predators that are also threatened; to protect our friend the plover.

It’s all very sad and I’m not very hopeful

Frisco Steve - 23-06-’13 18:56

I don’t see any difference in between the piping mad video and the continuous local radio pro beach driving one sided propaganda spot, not to mention all the email alerts and postcards sent by the 3 ORV orgs. Those  were done by the same people that would be delighted to see the lighthouse and the campground closed for plover chicks (some of them are trying to do that right now). Then they could claim more economic hardship because of the ORV rule. If you read the new S. 486 it is all about reducing as much vehicle free areas as possible, big deal if they provide pedestrian access when it has been changed to ORV access. Wake up everyone, this bill is still about ORV access, the leaders in this community care nothing about anything other than driving on the beach, period. If all the beaches were open to driving 24/7  all year long it  wouldn’t solve any of the major problems facing this island. And it really is a shame because S.486 could have provided some needed change that could have improved access for all.
While I am on a rant, Warren Judge is more concerned about the pomp, playing the big wig and camping out in Washington on my dime than anything else, the beach driving debacle is the greatest thing that ever happened for him. I bet he loves ever minute of it.

Anon - 24-06-’13 07:11
Sandy Semans Ross

The ‘science’ used to set the extraordinarily large buffers was NOT peer reviewed. That is a fact that is easily provable by simply calling those whose names are listed at the end of each section. I did that when I wrote a story about it a few years ago when I was the editor of the Sentinel. Three of those listed are local USFWS employees who I know – one had never seen the document; the second was asked to look at it (not to do a peer review) and he disagreed with portions and sent them recommended changes, none of which were heeded; and the third said he was sent a draft but wasn’t asked to do peer review and really didn’t know why it was sent to him. The US Geological Survey is the agency that commissioned the study and should have ensured that it was properly peer-reviewed, instead, it went into print even after questions were raised about the study’s validity. I personally think that the appropriate Inspector General should investigate the entire matter of how USGS handled the situation. Tax dollars paid for the contract and taxpayers should be demanding that any ‘science’ produced by the government should be without bias and follow the appropriate guidelines. I think that the amendment should be changed from ‘peer reviewed’ science to USFWS rules – the latter agency’s primary mission is to protect wildlife and the fact that its buffer restrictions are no much so much smaller should be a tip off that there are serious issues that need to be addressed. If this misrepresentation has occurred in the CAHA case, it most probably has happened in many cases. The American public deserves better.

Sandy Semans Ross - 24-06-’13 08:46

Hey Frisco Steve,
Take is easy. In the not too distant future we’ll all be riding along in robotic controlled vehicles anyway. Google already has them up and running in Cali. The term “driver” won’t exist anywhere in the US. Cars and ORV vehicles with steering wheels and internal cumbustion engines will soon go the way of horses as what was once basic transportation. Surf fishing with truck by side will be considered historic and quaint. No one can hold back time or science.

blowfish - 24-06-’13 09:26
Former Visitor

Mr. Blowfish,

Can you point out exactly which poster(s), (besides yourself), had this to say?

“Everybody that’s pro access has been demanding more peer science review. Now if the peer science review doesn’t go the way you want it, then peer science review is a bad idea?”

Must have missed it. That, or it’s just another one of your false inferences.

Also, the 1950’s called and said it wants the not-too-distant-future robotic cars theory back when you’re done with it.

Former Visitor - 24-06-’13 12:34
Mr. Blowfish

Horribly weak response. I so expected better from you, as peer review has been the number one strategy of the open access crew for years. The 1950s was then. Today, these self-directed vehicles are already on the road and have huge investment money behind them. Transportation will change dramatically when America finally decides to go all in on infrasrtructure in order to remain globally competitive. C’mon, you can do better than this. Maybe you’re just not feeling 100 percent today?

Mr. Blowfish - 24-06-’13 13:17

While many of the replies have caused undo stress for many here, Sam Bricker and Ellen have attempted to describe the very essence that has attracted so many of us to the OBX. And unfortunately, like Ellen and Sam, my family (20 in some years)have left what we felt was one of the last genuine mental and physical retreats to a place that can re-energize the soul and spirit with just the drive along 12 south. So while the arguements – legal, real, ficticious, misleading, and otherwise progress, the OBX has changed for those that reside on the islands and for those of us fortuntate enough to have shared it with you. And while we have contributed to the fight to maintain this paradise, it seems inconceivable for this ruling to have lasted this long. We will continue to be a part of the effort to return the OBX to what we knew and hope to outlive the bastards that have interfered with the lifestyle known as the OBX.

Tom - 24-06-’13 13:43
Hawk Hawkins

Not to worry,Mr.Blowtoad is going to lay out an electronic grid under the sand so we can take our electric trucks fishing.Then we can act like those cool people in California! Heavy!

Hawk Hawkins - 24-06-’13 13:43
Former Visitor

Mr. Blowfish,

Nice attempt at a deflection, and terribly sorry that you’re so disappointed.

The question remains, who in this thread has stated:

“Everybody that’s pro access has been demanding more peer science review. Now if the peer science review doesn’t go the way you want it, then peer science review is a bad idea?”

Please be specific in your answer.

While on the subject, can you also give examples in support of your claim that:

“….peer review has been the number one strategy of the open access crew for years.”

Must have missed those over the years as well.

Otherwise, your crystal ball gazings into the future of US transportation are nothing more than amusing Red Herrings.

Former Visitor - 24-06-’13 14:29
Mr. Blowtoad

At last, you’re finally talking like it’s a motor vehicle/beach transportation issue on HI and not global freedom/liberty supression as you implied in your last posting.

Mr. Blowtoad - 24-06-’13 14:35
salvo jimmy

Yep, times are changing

salvo jimmy - 24-06-’13 15:56

SJ, the Super-Wings store story must be very inconvenient indeed.

I read it earlier, posted a comment, but the comment was removed. Now I see that the comments section is closed.

Did Avon say they are good neighbors? Did any commissioners recuse themselves from this debate?

And filling one parcel leads to faster flooding and slower draining for other other parcels. The County should keep this in mind going forward.

Anonymous - 24-06-’13 16:26

Somehow I can think that most of us agree that HI is no place for a Wings, let alone a Superwings. This is bad news and people should let Mr. Burris know if they want this here or not. I vote not.

billfish - 24-06-’13 16:36
salvo jimmy

Sandy’s comments on the “inconvenient truth” about protocol peer review brings to mind that some folks who were touted as supporting a document at REG-NEG (might have been protocols) formally asked that their names be removed as they had been basically duped into the use of their names.

Another situation I recall was related to the Econ Analysis done by FWS to support critical habitat. It largely drew on a survey done that turned out to not be peer reviewed when challenged. When the survey was peer reviewed, it was found to be full of holes by reviewers. End result was the Econ Analysis had to be revised.

And another recall is that when NPS was asked at REG-NEG to produce the protocol peer review list it took maybe 2 months to lay it on the table and that list is what Sandy and others found holes in, along with many of the reviewers being protocol authors. Seems the list did not exist when asked for and was hastily developed after the fact.

So the pattern seems clear on “best available science” with regard to legit peer review. You need hip waders and a gas mask when standing near some of the stuff.

If you look at video of public comment at REG-NEG you will see one by me that basically stated that it was a good thing the “best available science” I had to operate my nuclear powered, nuclear weapon capable sub was just a TAD better than all the “best available” stuff I had seen at REG-NEG.

salvo jimmy - 24-06-’13 18:02

Sandy Semans Ross,
Let me get this straight. Of the many reviewers who reviewed the protocols you found two who claim they didn’t review it even though they may have received it and one who reviewed it and allegedly disagreed (what exactly?) with some of it, hence the protocols weren’t peer-reviewed?
What are the protocols? First, they’re not a study. In reading them it’s apparent the subject-expert authors did a literature review (cited at the end of each chapter) and sourced the appropriate peer-reviewed papers describing disturbance to nesting species in creating the protocols. They also made research recommendations for areas in which the knowledge is weak.
So, the protocols (as stated in the title*) are the culmination of all of the peer-reviewed literature available and its conclusions from that literature were then further peer-reviewed, but you want more peer review? When is enough?

*A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Information Related to the Biology and Management of Species of Special Concern at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

FKAA - 25-06-’13 01:32

clearly these low nest numbers show that we need larger buffers. Perhaps the pedestrian buffer can be increase to 1000 meters as well. larger buffers may also help turtle nesting. Now we have legal recourse to review the plan and increase the buffers as needed

anon - 25-06-’13 07:48
Sandy Semans Ross

Salvo Jimmy has an excellent memory – kudos to him! The document presented at Reg Neg was not officially ‘published’ by US Geological Survey until well after the Reg Neg process ended. When they announced that they were publishing it, I questioned if they had finally had it peer reviewed and they wiggled all over the place and then just refused to answer questions. The agency’s attitude seemed to be ‘just deal with it’. When the term ‘best available science’ was amended into NEPA, it allowed all sorts of mischief to occur. And it has substantially hurt the efforts to protect the environment because of the mistrust of ‘science’ that it has spawned. We can never let ourselves forget that in 1491, the best available science proclaimed the world to be flat…

Sandy Semans Ross - 25-06-’13 09:23

I am on the fence about supporting the amended bill. We all know the FEIS was not based on the facts regarding species protection and economic impact. It tainted the whole process of the final rule and I feel the right thing to do is throw the whole thing out and start over as been originally proposed. I’ve lost a lot of trust in the federal government recently and not sure we’ll ever get a fair decision from them.

AnonVisitor - 25-06-’13 10:34

“ We can never let ourselves forget that in 1491, the best available science proclaimed the world to be flat…”


FKAA - 25-06-’13 14:16

Sandy is wrong about the peer review issue. There is simply nothing to debate here. Please read the following:
The protocols were a compilation and synthesis of articles and Stukes that were already peer reviewed. Then, prior to publication, the report was peer reviewed by no fewer than 15 recognized experts in the field. It says so right on the final document.

So in reality the science was peer reviewed twice. First the original studies and second, the synthesis and recommendations. Bottom line—that dog won’t hunt. The document is clear on its face.

DeNile - 25-06-’13 16:52
Dave Vachet

Thanks for the link, DeNile!

I found this quote in the full document to be rather timely to our discussion:

“These protocols do not attempt to balance the need for protection of these species with other activities that occur at CAHA, nor was NPS management policy considered in
detail. A draft of the protocols was sent to species experts for scientific review; the final draft of protocols were
reviewed by NPS personnel to ensure that description of recent management at CAHA was accurately represented and that the approach was consistent with our work agreement.”

And right there folks, is the crux of the biscuit!

Dave Vachet - 25-06-’13 18:26

What was interesting is that NPS basically adopted the most ORV-friendly approach with the least restictions, according to the findings of the scientific peer reviewed study. Go figure.

billfish - 25-06-’13 19:23
Sandy Semans Ross

DeNile, what hog wash! But instead of arguing about it, why don’t you reveal your real name and, together, we can ask the Inspector General to investigate the process used to produce the document and agree to accept that office’s conclusion as to the propriety of the actions that led to the document being published? And, of course, as part of that investigation, that office should contact each of those either named or inferred as being reviewers and ask what their specific role was. I’m a little puzzled why, if you are so certain of the validity of your opinion that you find need to hide behind an alias. And FKAA, I invite you to join us in our request for an investigation – using your real name of course.

Sandy Semans Ross - 25-06-’13 21:08

I’ve no need to see peer-review in quadruplicate as I’ve also read most if not all of the relevant cited, already peer-reviewed literature and I am sure no amount of peer-review will give you the answer you want to hear.

Whether I’m anonymous or not won’t change those facts.

But do have fun chasin’ down that rabbit hole.

FKAA - 26-06-’13 00:50

best idea yet…..throw the whole thing out and start over…….better yet, just thrown the whole thing out

bbc - 26-06-’13 07:37
Sandy Semans Ross

FKAA, I’m always curious about the identity of writers who submit postings signed with an alias. Your last post narrowed the field in my guessing game because it is apparent that you aren’t an Outer Banker. How do I know that? If you were a local you would have enough strength in your convictions that you would be willing to support a third-party review so that the matter could finally be put to bed. Instead, you have chosen to use sarcasm to try and duck the issue. But I do have to admit that the reference to the rabbit hole has some relevancy – the document certainly appears to be an effort to pull the science bunny out of a hat so that it supported a specific bent. I don’t live on Hatteras Island and am not directly affected by the ORV issue but, as a journalist, I’m always trying to discern the true facts and, in this case, feel strongly that what really went on with the creation of the document and USGS’s role has never been made clear through either public record or other means. It is time for the Inspector General to weigh in on the matter.

Sandy Semans Ross - 26-06-’13 08:34

About the need for protection versus other park activities you mentioned as the crux of the biscuit. Obviously, the NPS generously considered the other park activities by adopting the least restrictive approach as outlined in Plan C. The open access crowd might not realize it, but NPS saved the day for them. Everyone should thank a ranger today. I’ll start. Thank you NPS for adopting the most open approach in alignment with the scientific peer-reviewed report.

billfish - 26-06-’13 10:06
Hawk Hawkins

Well,bill…at least now YOU are admitting that the issue is not birds,turtles or wildlife but totalitarian control via the “priviledge” of driving a motor vehicle necessary to transport one and ones gear to a chosen place.

Hawk Hawkins - 26-06-’13 10:51
Former Visitor

Mr. Billfish,

Kudos to you for being factually correct about Option C being the least restrictive, but you’ve failed to mention just how overly restrictive A & B were in comparison.

Option A: No recreation is permitted in any habitat used in the previous 10 years by the species in question.

Option B: For birds and plants, pedestrian recreation, but not ORV traffic, is permitted within a corridor in historically used habitat.

The fact that Option A was seriously considered at all should be an affront to all stakeholders.

IMO, Had this unit not been originally designated as a National Seashore Recreation Area, Option A may well have been the NPS’ preferred alternative. It would also not be surprising to see CNHSRA eventually operated under such draconian measures.


Former Visitor - 26-06-’13 12:46

I doubt your IMO regarding Option A, but, in my opinion, Option B could very well be the outcome if a peer review is revisited and NPS has to adhere to revised regulation while still meeting its recreation and protection requirement. Any way I look at it, open ORV access will continue to become more restrictive. The trend is apparent. This is hard to deny. It never has gone in the opposite direction since village summer restrictions were established to address the growth in vacation homes. God forbid if a big hotel ever starts eyeing HI as an oceanfront investment—then things will really start to get weird. To make a difference now, start by killing zoning permits that allow opening a Super Wings in Waves by its NY-based dry good corporation. When you get down to the nitty gritty, I believe the access issue is really a growth and zoning issue, which could be controlled locally. More growth equals less access. Weak zoning equals more access restrictions. Unchecked growth will kill HI, not the NPS or the bird groups. At least that’s my opinion. Now let the attacks begin.

billfish - 26-06-’13 13:44

talk about beating a dead horse, the plan is in place and it is not going to change, learn to adapt to the new reality

anon - 26-06-’13 14:12
Dave Vachet

I’m Sorry Billfish, but maybe you misread the quote I posted from —A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Information Related to the Biology and Management of Species of Special Concern at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina— that DeNile was so kind to post a link to.

It clearly states that the recommendations contained therein are NOT meant to achieve balance between the long standing activities at CAHA and protection of species included in the literature review. You may bend it as you please, but that doesn’t change the meaning of the words I quoted.

So, now SELC, Audobon, and DOW all say how balance has been achieved with the new rule, but the very science they claim to be the “best available”, and used as a guideline for beach closures, happens to unequivocally state that notion to be untrue. This best available, peer reviewed document contradicts their position (and yours) on this issue. Pretty funny and quite ironic if you ask me.

As I mentioned before, NEPA analysis and documentation for federal policy-making must be done correctly and by the rules. Its obvious now to Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and to the top brass in the DOI, that this did not occur at Hatteras. The process has been rife with flaws beyond the use of these protocols, and the real decision makers see that now. It’s a good thing the reasonable access folks are willing to compromise. Although, I suppose the rule could be scrapped and the process begun anew. We’ll see….

Dave Vachet - 26-06-’13 16:02

My initial reaction to your post was to just ignore it since you decided to begin it with ad hominem.

But, I’ll leave you with this.

The facts won’t change if I post as “Joseph Randolph” or you posted as “Betsy Ross”. Deal with it as best you can.

I would suggest you read all the cited peer-reviewed literature referenced in the Synthesis, especially those dealing with disturbance, as the conclusions of the Synthesis are entirely consistent with that peer-reviewed literature. That you reject the conclusions because you found 2 of 3 managers (who were most likely sent it as a courtesy)who didn’t review the peer-reviewed Synthesis in no way indicts the process or the peer-review by the other subject experts.

As a follow-up, what exactly did the rest of the peer-reviewers tell you? I’m sure as a competent journalist you contacted the other subject experts listed, correct? I can’t seem to locate your original story.

FKAA - 26-06-’13 16:42

Dave Vachet,

You are correct. Scientists give managers the science w/o political or other biases/concerns.

It’s up to the managers to make any balances between that science and other uses.

FKAA - 26-06-’13 17:09

Now I get your point. So would a “balance” focused peer review and various inputs determine the balance? And would a balance peer review be able to overturn the recent scientific peer review and its minimum requirements for the wildlife side? I suggest the answer must between a, b or c. The scientific peer review won’t determine the balance, But I believe it also won’t allow federally anything less for the wildlife side than its minimum requirements stated in C. No wonder people need lawyers.

billfish - 26-06-’13 17:38
Sandy Semans Ross

FKAA, the folks I spoke to locally were all listed as being the peer reviewers in the document. Just to make certain that is why their names or positions (never saw a peer reviewer just listed by title before) were listed, I called USGS and it was confirmed. And, yes, I did call others listed but none of those who worked on the document since that obviously is a conflict of interest to peer review one’s own work. And I’m relatively certain that the story I wrote can be pulled up through Google so maybe you are looking under the wrong name. But it all comes back to two words – Inspector General and that is where my comments are going to be directed.

Sandy Semans Ross - 26-06-’13 22:28
just wonderin'

Here is what I understand. Like to know if I’ve got it wrong. The law requires areas to be designated to allow driving on the Seashore. The law also allows NPS to permit driving only if it does not harm or disturb wildlife. NPS has designated buffers to protect birds based on their scientist’s recommendations. Some think the buffers are too big and claim the buffers are not based on peer reviewed science. But there have to be some buffers to protect wildlife, or NPS can not allow driving under the law. NPS has taken its shot at buffers, with the other option not to allow any driving. I think the buffers should be based on science. NPS says their’s are. So here is my question to those demanding peer reviewed science to support buffers: What is the peer reviewed science that says the NPS buffers are too big? If there is some, that could help in resolving the issues. If there is not, all this seems to be a philosophical discussion.

just wonderin' - 27-06-’13 08:33
salvo jimmy

This is at least related to the discussion here and will probably get some folks juiced up as it has me.

I started reviewing the improved access infrastructure document NPS just put out for review. Here is what I found in a para talking about funding and priority.

The paragraph immediately following Table 2-1 (pg 45) says (or at least strongly indicates) ALL improvements would be funded by ORV permit fees. This paragraph further says (or at least strongly indicates) that priority of construction would be given for accessing areas closed to ORVs. In other words ORV user permit fees would be used to priority fund other than ORV access.

Below is the para I refer to.

Funding for the proposed action would come from ORV permit fees established under the ORVMP/EIS. While this alternative analyzes implementing all 29 proposed developments, a decision on any one of these developments would not affect potential implementation of the other developments. Analyzing all 29 developments provides NPS with the maximum extent of possible adverse impacts or the worst case scenario. Facilities would be implemented based on funding, cost, and regulatory issues with the highest priority given to construction projects that provide access to areas of the beach that are closed to ORVs.

salvo jimmy - 27-06-’13 09:30

It is not true that the best peer reviewed science thought the world was flat in 1491. All educated people have realized that the world is round since the time of the ancient Greeks. Columbus was not unusual in realizing the world was round and that he could get to the Indies by sailing west. He just underestimated the size of the earth, because he didn’t know about that ancient Greek guy who figured out the true circumference of the world more than 2000 years ago.

OK, one thing no one has ever been able to explain satisfactorily to me. I went to Chincoteague last summer. they have piping plover closures on the beach. The buffer zone is about 50 feet if that. The birds did not seem to mind. So how come it’s 1000 feet or yards or whatever at Hatteras? Do North Carolina piping plovers need more leibensroum than Virginia ones? Why such a large buffer? A good bit of this angst and suffering could be avoided if there weren’t such huge and in my view, unnecessary buffers. There is a nest near a parking lot, for God’s sake. They seem to be adapting to people.

I seldom agree with Billfish but I do agree about the development thing. Too much development leads to too many people trying to access limited shore area. We sure don’t want Hatteras to turn in the the Jersey Shore. Or even Nags Head. Nags Head is fine, I used to go there as a kid but it’s too built up know. I live in Virginia and if I want commercial honky-tonk on the beach I can save driving time and go to Virginia Beach. What is a Super Wings? Is it like a Super Wal-Mart? On Hatteras? Good God, no. It would really hurt the small locally owned businesses which I try to patronize when we come down there.

Hatteras is kind of like that sweet hunting or fishing spot you know about. You want to share it with your friends, but not too many friends, or too many people will come and ruin everything.

Marty - 27-06-’13 09:44

Marty it was decided on 1000 meter radius,which is over one mile in diameter, to have a ‘reason’ to close the beaches to all user groups. In most places the island is even 1 mile across. Previously is was 50 feet and worked well.

Bud - 27-06-’13 11:01
Hawk Hawkins

Hatteras is kind of like that sweet fishing spot you know about…but you can’t get to!

Hawk Hawkins - 27-06-’13 13:01

Marty, A Super-Wings is just a big Wings that includes dorms for the workers it will import.

The question is why does Dare conform Hatteras land-use regulations to suit this business model? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Anonymous - 27-06-’13 14:52
Carol Wallis

People, People, People !!
Please IDENTIFY yourselves and WHERE you live. You could live ANYWHERE and not have ‘clue’ what is happening here on Hatteras Island. WHY cannot you: State your REAL NAME and WHERE you live? I don’t consider/deem some of your remarks unless I know you live here on HI or close or even have been here! My next appeal is to Irene !! Carol Wallis, Avon, NC

Carol Wallis - 27-06-’13 20:05

Anyone with any sense doesn’t put their hand in the fire the second time hence why some local people remain anonymous. It is usually fairly obvious who is from here and who is not. Just because you (anyone) lives here isn’t the gold standard for accuracy. Basing  your comments on what people say not where they are from or their  legal name will provide more divergent opinions and a livelier discussion.

Anon - 28-06-’13 11:07

…so what statement will the SELC and Audubon come up with in regards the few number a plovers this year in their southern most breeeding range? They sure can’t blame people. Old Derb is scratching his head bald right now and you can take that to the bank…..oh, he’s real good!

James - 28-06-’13 12:36
Babylon Al

We owned a rental property for six years and just sold. Can’t take the uncertainty anymore. The road accessability with storms, tax increases, insurance increases, hostile environmental groups…
Enough was enough for us, sad to say.

Babylon Al - 28-06-’13 16:08

There are 14 millions owners of CHNS. Four or five thousand owners live on Hatteras Island. Quite frankly, HI residents’ input isn’t even equal to a rounding error. Rember this is America’s beach and that someone who lives in Kansas has just as valid a right as you on matters concerning CHNS.

billfish - 30-06-’13 15:29

There are about fourteen million Americans that have an equal say about CHNS. About 5000 live on Hatteras Island, which isn’t even a rounding error. This is America’s seashore and everyone’s a local.

billfish - 30-06-’13 16:50

Sorry, I for some reason I searched the Pilot.

This one?:

I don’t see that you contacted any of the scientists listed as peer-reviewers, other than the Pea Island managers.

The appearance is one of bias and flawed journalism. The appearance is that you got the “answer” you wanted and quit there rather than follow the story to completion.

Appearances may not always be accurate though. Were there time and budget restraints which prevented a full investigative report? Perhaps no one who was sent the Synthesis reviewed it and just File 13’ed it. That would be one heck of a scoop.

But if they did review it, unfortunately it would be just another dog-bites-man story.

FKAA - 30-06-’13 17:06

314 million owners of chns, sorry for typo.

billfish - 30-06-’13 22:42
Hawk Hawkins

314 million owners of CHNS.They need to come here to see what you are doing to their property.

Hawk Hawkins - 01-07-’13 10:41
Sandy Semans Ross

FKAA, the fact that you want to change the subject from ‘was this document peer-reviewed?’ to a personal attack on me speaks tons. I did call others listed – if they had no conflict of interest which made the hunt difficult because most of those listed had a hand in the document on some level. Some had no idea what I was talking about and others refused to go on the record. And local papers are always going to focus on local folks when available. I’m very surprised that you don’t seem to think that the fact that the role of local Fish and Wildlife Service employees alluded to in the document was grossly misleading and apparently in one case was total fiction is relevant.

Sandy Semans Ross - 02-07-’13 09:02

Maybe Ellen, your response to this mess is EXACTLY what the NPS wanted in order to accomplish complete control. The more restrictions, the less visitors. Less visitors = bad economy. Bad economy = more locals leaving. Locals gone = NPS total control. I will continue to vacation on Hatteras Island to show my support, not only for the local economy, but to fight for the place that I love most!

OBX QUEEN - 13-07-’13 11:59

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