Beach Access Issues
March 24, 2008

New Web site focuses on Hatteras and Ocracoke beach access

By IRENE NOLAN



Greg Roberts and Michael Lancsek, Kill Devils Hills Realtors, were until recently like a lot of other people on the Outer Banks.

They had heard that some environmental groups had filed a lawsuit last October against the National Park Service.  The groups claimed that since there was no ORV regulation for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, ORV operation on the beaches is unlawful. The suit claimed that the Park Service was not doing enough to protect shorebirds, including the piping plover.

Then in February, the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society, defended by the Southern Environmental Law Center, went back to court to seek a temporary injunction against driving on some of the seashore’s most popular beaches – Bodie Island spit, Cape Point and the South Beach, Hatteras Inlet, and the north and south points of Ocracoke.

Roberts said he had read about the lawsuit and the request for the injunction, but he also read that a federally chartered negotiated rulemaking committee was working on ORV rules for the seashore.  He didn’t worry too much about what he heard, until he was on Hatteras some weeks ago, and picked up on the concern of residents and business owners about the economic consequences of beach closure.

Roberts went back to Kill Devil Hills and started making phone calls to get more information.  He was alarmed at what he found out.

“It would be disastrous if Outer Banks beaches are closed,” Roberts said in an interview.  And, he added, it would be disastrous not only for Hatteras and Ocracoke, but also for all the areas north of the Bonner Bridge.

The lawsuit and its impact were “not known to a lot of people,” Lancsek added. “People just don’t understand the impact.”

Roberts and Lancsek began talking about what they could do to spread the word.  In their view, the problem was a lack of information.  Not enough people knew about the threat of beach closures, and those who did were not paying enough attention.

The solution was to establish a Web site to spread the word about the closure threat and to give people a tool to have their voices heard.

Thus we have www.savehatterasandocracoke.com.

The Web site has information and links to information on beach access issues.

And it also has PleaCast, the means by which visitors to the site can voice their opinions or concern by filling out a simple form.

The message reads:

“Please drop the federal lawsuit and return to negotiations.  The resources of the Cape Hatteras Seashore mean everything to EVERY walk of life on Hatteras and Ocracoke Island.  These resources are our most important asset.   A majority of us care about keeping our environment healthy and economy stable.  We want an opportunity for the community to voice their opinions and discuss these matters in further detail.  

“If you are a United States Senator or other official of the U.S. government, and you are receiving our plea for a ‘return to the negotiation process,’ we appreciate any influence you may have on this critical issue.”

The site also includes information on contacting the environmental groups and elected officials personally and not through the site.

The site went online on Wednesday afternoon, March 19.  By Thursday afternoon, 1,500 people have filled out the PleaCast form.  Several thousand more had done so by Monday, Roberts said.
 
For more information, go to:

http://www.savehatterasandocracoke.com/

or

http://www.savehatteras.com

   


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