More on the misleading media campaign to declare the consent decree a success - Shooting The Breeze


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More on the misleading media campaign to declare the consent decree a success

Tuesday 13 October 2009 at 4:40 pm. I have now written two blogs on the misleading misinformation – the most polite way to say it – that has come from the environmental groups that sued the National Park Service over its lack of ORV rules on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches.

The result of that lawsuit, of course, was the consent decree that now substitutes for management of seashore beaches by the National Park Service.

I certainly did not expect to write again so soon about this misinformation campaign by Defenders of Wildlife, the National Audubon Society, and their attorneys at the Southern Environmental Law Center.

However, there have been several developments since I last wrote about the SELC misleading media release a week ago. These developments are both noted in the comments from readers on my blog from last week.

However, not everyone reads all the comments on the blog, so I want to direct you to a couple places.

First, check out the Dare County Web site, Preserve Access to America’s Beaches, which has posted a fact-based response to the alleged success of the consent decree.

The information gathered for this response to the claim that the consent decree is a terrific success was brought to members of Congress last month by Dare County Commissioners Warren Judge and Allen Burrus and Bobby Outten, Dare County’s manager and attorney.

Unlike the SELC media releases this year and the Audubon’s e-mail alert last month, this document is detailed and based in facts that are straightforward.

Judge said the Dare County delegation had 11 meetings with congressmen and senators to talk about the consent decree and its influence on the economy of Dare County and the lifestyle of the islanders and visitors who are being denied access to the seashore’s most popular beaches from spring until fall.

The county officials were garnering support for the legislation that has been introduced in both the House and Senate to overturn the consent decree and return the seashore to the Park Service’s Interim Protected Species Management Plan. They are HR 718 and S 1557.  

In addition, I want to call your attention to an editorial that appeared in The Fayetteville Observer last Wednesday, Oct. 7.

The writer took the media release from SELC and used it as a basis for an editorial, the title of which is “Beachy: Species recover, thanks to new Hatteras rules.”

The entire editorial was taken from the SELC media release, and apparently there was no attempt by the writer to do any reporting on the claims by the environmental groups and whether they were indeed factual.

Thus is how SELC is managing to turn perception – and misinformation-- into reality.

To make matters worse, the Fayetteville editorial was picked up by the Associated Press and distributed to other newspapers across the state – with all of its misleading and incorrect information.

The Charlotte Observer published the editorial – word for word.  

And who knows how many other newspapers have done or will do the same?

Personally, I think it’s irresponsible that an editorial writer – or any journalist -- would take a media release from an activist environmental organization and publish the claims of the group as the truth – with no fact checking.

And it is destructive to all of us who have a stake in the outcome of ORV rulemaking on the seashore to have these half-baked and misleading claims garner credibility just because they are repeated over and over in print and on the Internet by supposedly upstanding media outlets.

The Fayetteville Observer has been notified that there is another side to the story of the species recovery at Cape Hatteras.

So far, there has been no further word from the newspaper.

nine comments

Larry Cullen


Once again thank you for your diligent watching of the news media and the veracity of the environmental groups. The false reporting has gone even further! I was saddened and frustrated that WUNC has had a couple of totally misleading presentations aired at its station as "news" items. I was saddened to realize that a station with the backing of the state university could carry such an errant story. The source of their information is obvious now, they too, didn’t research their "facts," they simply wrote what they heard. Where, except for your "paper," can the proof be circulated?

It makes you wonder whose "veracity" can be trusted

Larry Cullen (Email ) - 13-10-’09 17:12
<span class='registered'>Denny in Dayton</span>

The lack of journalism at some of these news outlets is appalling. Want to see another good set of lies? Look at this statement from publication called "national parks in peril" put out by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization" and "the National Resources Defense Council"

"Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s barrier islands
erode under natural conditions from tides, currents
and waves. With an altered climate, the U.S. Global
Change Research Program reports that it is virtually
certain that barrier islands in the mid-Atlantic region,
including those at Cape Hatteras, will erode more
quickly.5 Already, the seashore’s Cape Hatteras
Lighthouse, the tallest brick lighthouse in the United
States, has been moved once because of sea-level
rise. When built in 1870 it was 1,500 feet from the
shoreline; by 1998, only 120 feet separated it from
the Atlantic Ocean. After the National Academy of
Sciences confirmed that the lighthouse was in
danger of being lost to the continued rise of the
Atlantic, the lighthouse was moved 2,900 feet inland.
That took two years and cost taxpayers $4.6 million.
Knowing that this relocation may prove inadequate in
the face of rising seas and stronger storms, the
National Park Service left steel beams under the
lighthouse to make the next move easier."

I thought the lighthouse was in danger waaaay before global warming, and it was due to the natural regression of the island due to prevailing winds? Oh well what ever lies they tell! It be a full time job tracking the lies and debunking them!

Here is a Wall Street Journal blog that beats up on the silly report

Denny in Dayton (Email ) - 13-10-’09 17:48
chuck allison

The constant lies and poor reporting on the ‘consent degree’ just turn my stomach. How can these people live with themselves? I confronted an Audubon of NJ member at an affair last week, and he could not make eye contact after the first two sentences out of my mouth. Maybe some of their members have souls.

chuck allison (Email ) - 13-10-’09 18:24
Mike Berry

Environmental decisions and actions always involve economic and human costs.

Access to the environment is a universal right of all human beings without distinction or discrimination. Respect for rights of humans must be the center any environmental management and protection program or policy. There must be equitable and sustainable use of the environment––in this case the national seashore. The seashore was set aside to be used by all of us, not just for a handful of politically powerful elitists.

The public has as much right and responsibility to examine, criticize, and challenge environmental activists for their selfish and exclusive use and control of the environment as we all have a right and obligation to challenge irresponsible environmentally polluting corporations.

Dare County has done an in-depth job of laying out the facts and truth associated with the consent decree and exposing the misinformation and social irresponsibility of the environmental activist organizations.

The Dare County information has been presented to Congress. And, as every lawyer knows, it’s a bad idea to deliberately give false information to the Congress and the federal agencies. So to SELC, DOW, and NC Audubon Society, I ask the question: Would you like to rethink and address in its entirety the factual basis behind your press releases and present it formally to Congress?

Mike Berry (Email ) - 14-10-’09 07:15
Cameron Gray

My first encounter with the outer banks was as a 2 yr. old in a WWII surplus army jeep with my mother & father in 1947. That was when it was permissable to drive down the beach from Sandbridge to Naggs Head.

I lost touch with the Outer Banks in 1949 with the death of my father, and the sale of the jeep by Mother.

But I never lost longing to return. Which I did in 1971 when my brother & I began the first of 35 “Annual Hatteras Excursions”. Back then it was possable to get on the beach at Oregan Inlet & except for a detour around Buxton drive the length of the Island. Then take the ferry to Ocracoke & drive the beach from the top to Ocracoke Village.

A lot has changed since then. Remember when the first complaint concerning Off road vehicles was that the ruts created by driving in the sand was the cause of beach erosion? Anyone who has ever been on the beach on an incoming tide witnesses the ruts actually slowing down erosion. With that bit of logic, Pea Island Refuge beach access was cut off to vehicles. This fallacy can be overturned by going back a few years when the entire Pea Island area was washed over when the Hurricane hit. As a matter of fact, the only areas of the Island which were washed over were where Beach access had been already prohibited to vehicles for years.

An old friend, Clay Caudill, once told me while we were surf fishing just north of Avon, that the Island was moving West, and there was nothing man could do to reverse this. To impress his point we went to the Hatteras Light (before the latest move) where he pointed way out in the ocean to a spot where the first Hatteras Light had been located. Clay, an avid surf fisherman, had been the head of the Park Service on Hatteras many years ago. It’s too bad that he is not still with us to defend those of us who appreciate Cape Hatteras as he did.

As a retired Virginia State Game Warden I had protected wildlife for 20 years. There are a few bad apples on the human side, but the great majority of hunters & fishermen respect & appreciate this countries wildlife inheritance far more than the average person who has never had the opportunity to witness nature close up & not just in pictures.
Aso maybe they should make a law against Hurricane & Northeasters which certainly do more damage to bird & turtle nests than do ORV.


Cameron Gray

Cameron Gray (Email ) - 14-10-’09 08:56
Jim Lea

There’s no question that the SELC, DOW and Audubon have taken the Burr-Hagan-Jones legislative initiative seriously and are attempting to derail it with a media campaign. To the extent that their artfully spun videos and press releases are effective it’s because they’re too often picked up and presented as hard news by print, broadcast and online media outlets without fact-checking or consideration of a possible “other side.” That’s dirty pool by the SELC and poor journalism by the Fayetteville Observer and others.

But instead of just bemoaning the special interest groups’ tactics, we should launch a media campaign of our own. We have the evidence – the Dare County analysis paper is one strong example – and we have the ability to package that evidence in forms that editors and bloggers will take seriously. The Preserve Beach Access Web site is great, but it counts on people coming to it. We should go to the people with press releases and other aggressive outreach measures to keep the truth and our beach access rights from being overwashed.

Jim Lea - 14-10-’09 09:25
Matt Stubbs

This is a response I recieved from mine to the article. Included is the authors email and phone number…

Sir (sorry, I don’t know your name),

Mike Adams passed your email along to me. I wrote that editorial. And I sincerely hope you’re not cancelling your subscription because of one editorial.

But let me tell you something about it. It’s not “cut and paste.” I went to the sources and checked out the statistics. I’ll stand by what I wrote.

You also should know that I’ve been researching this topic for about 25 years. Before I came to Fayetteville, a decade ago, I lived on Cape Cod, where I also worked as a journalist. I covered a longstanding battle over restrictions on off-road vehicles there, in the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is, in many ways, quite similar to the Hatteras National Seashore. I’m pretty familiar with the issues.

And one more thing: I’m a beach driver. I’ve been driving four-wheel-drive vehicles on beaches for about 40 years now, to fish, to photograph wildlife, and to just relax and enjoy barrier beaches. I want very much to preserve my right — and everyone’s right — to continue using the beaches. But I also believe it must be done in a way that preserves the beaches themselves, and the wildlife that lives on them. That’s not just a philosophical thing — it’s about complying with the law. If the National Park Service doesn’t do the job right, we may find a judge shutting down ALL access.

Thanks for writing. And I hope you’ll get in touch if you want to discuss this further. You can reply to this email, or you can call me — my direct line is 910-486-3504.

Tim White
Editorial Page Editor
The Fayetteville Observer

Matt Stubbs (Email ) - 15-10-’09 08:31
obx love

Mr. White,
If the barrier islands are moving and i do believe they are, why should we not be able to drive on them and enjoy them while they are still there? most people are complyant to the laws, few litter and get a little stupid about their off road driving. if the santuarys are corded off for the birds, turtles, etc then i don’t see the problem. National parks are there for the people to enjoy them. how can you stand in judgement of them
Complain about the building of montrous houses and condos. they do the real damage to these islands.
Complain about the rise in shopping centers and mini golf parks. complain about the loss of the little stores that used to dot the villages, now driven out by bigger chains. complain about the over crowded streets on Ocracoke that used to be a quaint lttle village, now a mecca for those who use up the resources and litter the streets.

for those of us who depend on the one week to get away from it all, needing the peace the beach gives us, who follow the rules, listen to the park rangers, obey the advice and simply enjoy the ocean, leave us alone.

obx love (Email ) - 31-10-’09 06:19

The media are always looking for an easy story, especially as they cut staff. If someone does all the work for them they get a “free story”. Organizations that issue press release with facts sheets, etc and work directly with the press have a better chance of getting their story published. The SELC and related orgs seem to have a well organized and planned PR approach.
Frankly, the beach access related groups could do a better job playing the PR game which is important to move public opinion. Alienating the groups that hold the pen is not going to work.

stuart (Email ) - 11-11-’09 12:49

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