real management

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real management

Post  JLphoto on September 15th 2008, 3:56 pm

Back in the 1930s when Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge was established, the CCC dug out the waterfowl impoundments that have made this refuge such an incredible place for birds. It seems like there was a bit of forethought put into this. As inlets close up, the marsh islands are created. However, through succession they slowly begin to move from a wetland environment to high ground islands. This was never a problem historically because another inlet would open up and create more shoals which in turn would become prime bird habitat when that inlet closed up. This doesn't happen on our islands anymore. The army corp makes darn sure that any such inlet created by a storm is quickly filled in - think Hurricane Isabel and Hatteras Village. Thus is why Pea Island is so heavily managed by the NWR system to create prime migratory waterfowl habitat - for which it does a damn good job.

The areas of Cape Hatteras National Seashore in question now suffer the same fate as the rest of the beaches. Due to our economy it is no longer feasible to allow nature to simply take its course along the beaches without jeopardizing peoples livelihoods. Some people stand to loose from the closures. Others just bemoan their rights that are being taken away. It seems to me however that Cape Hatteras NS might look into following Pea Islands lead on management and CREATE prime habitats for the colonial nesting birds in question away from the three key fishing locations. There is a reason why certain areas have attracted the piping plovers, oyster catchers, black skimmers, and least terns. It has much to do with overwash. The Bodie Island spit, Cape Point, and south point of Ocracoke all overwash during large storms. Like the Pea Island impoundments, could this type of habitat be simulated? If so, than Cape Hatteras would be able to fulfill its duty of managing the landscape for both the environment and people alike.

Ultimately, it seems to me that Cape Hatteras brought this problem upon themselves by not creating an ORV management plan like they were supposed to along time ago. By putting the problem off, they brought the wrath of some heavy hitting environmental organizations that obviously mean business. These organizations are right to point out that there has been an 84% decrease in nesting along Cape Hatteras since 1997 (an arbitrary year that many claim is when tourism here really started to peak). I think though that both the fisherman and the birds can win from this ordeal in the long run. But for now, we and our tourist driven economy are going to suffer for a couple of years due to Cape Hatteras' procrastination. It is the job of the National Park Service to manage their resources equally for both people and the environment - that is specifically why these areas are created in the first place as opposed to National Forests which are managed by the Department of Agriculture or National Wildlife Refuges. Cape Hatteras unfortunately has given the lion's share of its attention to people and neglected the other half of the equation. For this, us folks that live here are having to deal with taking a backseat to natural resources while they finally work out that balance that was supposed to be there from the get go.



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