Email sent to NPS Traveller

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Email sent to NPS Traveller

Post  FriscoGirl on May 4th 2008, 2:05 am

My parents live in the Outer Banks and have forever – at least as long as I can remember.
Despite assertions to the contrary – the new rules and regulations will SIGNIFICANTLY and ADVERSELY impact fishermen (and fisherwomen).
The new rules call for closing of the beaches between 10 pm and 6 am during the peak fishing season of May 1 – November 1. Miss the deadline by a minute and you are looking at a $5,000 fine and 6 months in jail. A bit extreme, don’t you think??? Particularly since the Drum (a species prized by the fishermen and fisherwomen) has a peak fishing time of midnight to 6 am. How do the retired, elderly, and handicapped fisherfolks fish? It is at least a 20 minute trek from the nearest parking lot to the desirable fishing areas – all through soft sand (except the last hundred feet) which is treacherous to those with handicaps or balance issues (like my parents). My dad lived for fishing – now he cannot do it. The Drum that he wants to fish are not accessible where the new rules and regulations allow him to be during the time that the Drum are striking.
Wildlife has had over 13 miles of the island (6,000 acres) specifically set aside for them since 1937 in the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge. At the same time, an area was set aside for human recreation - the Cape Hatteras National Seashore RECREATIONAL Area. Unfortunately, due to politics it took until 1952 to formally institute the CHNS RECREATIONAL Area.
Due to a glitch in the system (paperwork on behalf of CHNSRA submitted decades ago - but apparently lost in the bureaucracy in Atlanta and/or DC) the final plan was not implemented. However, the interim plan has been in place since the submission of the paperwork and has worked well as I (and a host of others) can personally attest to.
The local National Park Service, and Superintendent of the CHNSRA Mike Murray, has done a fantastic job of balancing preserving wildlife and human recreational uses in this Recreational Area.
The Audubon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife took advantage of this glitch to sue to deny citizens of the United States of America access to the Recreational Area set aside for their use over 50 years ago. The guise they used to sue under was the “plight of the piping plover” – which is not even an endangered species!!
Unfortunately, the beach area that the Audubon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife, want to restrict access to is not the desirable area for nesting and/or wintering of the piping plover – sand bars (NOT dunes) are the desired areas. “See Species of Common Conservation Concern in North America”, Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Montreal, Canada - http://www.cec.org/files/pdf/BIODIVERSITY/SCCC-Web-e_EN.PDF.
There are a number of sandbars created from dredged sand (to keep the ferry channels open) that the birds have “taken to like a duck to water”. The bird population of these man-made sand bars is huge and was ignored by the Southern Environmental Law Center in its representation of the Audubon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife in their lawsuit. I believe that it was a misrepresentation to the court and may have caused this mistaken decision. Sand bars have been repeatedly demonstrated to be the preferred bird habitat of the piping plover. See document above.
In addition to the Atlantic coast from Canada to Mexico, the piping plover has a MAJOR area of nesting and wintering in the flyways of the Mississippi River.
The nesting habitat of the piping plover extends from Canada as far south as NC. The wintering habitat extends from Mexico as far north as NC. The Outer Banks of NC is the extreme edge of the range, and accordingly not many piping plovers spend time here. According to government statistics, the piping plovers in the Outer Banks of NC account for less than 0.25% of the nesting pairs in the US – this is not counting the numbers in Canada and Mexico – which is a significant portion of their habitat. Treaties are in place to save the piping plovers and their habitat in both Canada and Mexico.
For this, they are denying a livelihood to islanders who have been here for generations upon end. Some assert a ties to the island since the original colony settled in 1587. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roanoke_Island .
People using Off Road Vehicle (OVR) access in the Outer Banks are careful stewards of the environment and true conservationists. The OVR users (fisherman that have NO other way to carry their gear to desirable fishing spots, the disabled, the young, and others) work hard to maintain the parks in a pristine state and step in to remind the weekly renters and occasional visitors to the beach to do the same (saving Park Service manpower).
Unfortunately, on occasion, as with any area with drivers, there are those that overstep the rules. These are promptly dealt with and fined and/or jailed. Usually they are young idiots with more testosterone than brains. Finalists for the Darwin Awards.
I have NEVER seen anyone (in over 40 plus years) do a doughnut on the beach. Frankly, how in the heck do you do this in SAND? I understand doughnuts in snow (and have tried it in my youth), but SAND???? You have got to be kidding!
The only oil that I have seen on the beach has been that leaked from tankers. I saw lots in the 60’s and 70’s, with tapering off in the 80’s and 90’s. I am glad to report that I have not seen oil on the beaches this century.
Anyone who drives on the beach would NOT EVEN CONSIDER taking out a vehicle that was leaking oil. It would destroy the environment – be it for fishing or simple enjoyment of the beach. Furthermore, it would ruin the vehicle and could strand the driver and passengers on the beach.
Another major consideration is the impossibility to do a 20 minute or more trek with all the associated fishing gear. It is not a can of worms and a cane pole of Lassie’s time. What is essential for a stay on the sand is more than what can be carried by a single person – even 50 feet. The fishing gear includes coolers with 60-80 pounds of ice, bait, eight or so rods from 7' to 13' 3" and the reels that go with them, spools of line and leaders, hooks, hookouts, 10 o more pounds of lures and 20 pounds of sinkers, a beverage cooler, foul weather gear and waders, trash bags, sand spikes, etc., etc.
I spent March on the beach. My tracks were OBLITERATED within 20 minutes from the blowing sand. The ramp area (the only access through the dunes to the beach) does have ruts – but ONLY until it rains or the wind blows hard enough. No permanent damage is done to the beach by ORV use. More damage occurs from the hurricanes. I have been evacuated numerous times and have been foolhardy enough (again in my youth) to ride out hurricanes.
It simply is not possible for fisherfolk to use the beach during peak fishing times (particularly if they are disabled or elderly).
PLEASE FIX THIS! At least make an accommodation for the handicapped!!

FriscoGirl

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Registration date : 2008-04-10

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