More than 600 turn out to hear
about looming threat to beach access
... WITH VIDEOS
By JIM AND GINNY LUIZER
It was just two weeks ago that Rob Alderman of the Hatteras Island
Fishing Militia Web site (aka the General) announced his plan to bring
together all groups advocating free and open beaches for a public
meeting. His plan came to fruition last night at the
Center in Buxton. The stated purpose of the meeting was to
provide “accurate information” and to advise the
about what could happen on Friday, April 4.
That is the date on which Judge Terrence Boyle of the U.S. District
Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina is scheduled to hear
arguments in Raleigh on a request for a temporary injunction against
ORV use on popular areas of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The
request was made by the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon
Society, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC).
The meeting was publicized via Internet, chat rooms, e-mail, and signs
that sprouted up on nearly every marquee between Hatteras and Kitty
Hawk. It was also announced in Island Free Press and
Virginian-Pilot articles that reported on the Celebration at Cape Point
last Saturday. By 6:30 pm, the Fessenden Center gym was
with more than 600 people.
The speakers assembled for the evening were:
• Bobby Outten, Dare County
• Jim Keene, President of the
North Carolina Beach Buggy Association
• Frank Folb, Avon Property
• John Couch, President of Outer
Banks Preservation Association
• Chris Dillon, Director of
Special Projects for North Carolina Senator Marc Basnight
• Carolyn McCormick, Outer Bank
Visitors Bureau and Dare County Tourism Board
• Allen Burrus, Dare County
Board of Commissioners
• Warren Judge, Chairman, Dare
County Board of Commissioners
According to Bobby Outten the injunction is being sought because of
alleged inadequacies of the Interim Protected Species Management
Plan. In particular, Outten noted, it is the absence of an
management plan that makes the seashore vulnerable to the SELC
lawsuit. He did not discount the worst-case
scenario—namely, that Judge Boyle might ban all driving on
beaches because an ORV plan does not exist.
Outten answered the unspoken question on everyone’s
What will happen if the judge were to grant the injunction?
said that Dare County, as an intervenor, does have the right to file an
appeal. Such an appeal, however, could take anywhere from six
18 months. In the meantime, the injunction would remain in
Jim Keene, NCBBA, identified an executive order issued by President
Nixon in 1972 as the seminal event in the current
According to this order, Keene said, “Any park that has ORV
must have an ORV plan.” Despite the fact that the
Park Service did develop and deliver an ORV plan in 1977, according to
Keene, “the plan just disappeared, like your tax
dollars.” It was not until the arrival of current
Superintendent Mike Murray, that anything has been done about an ORV
plan. “It only took 35 years,” Keene
John Couch, OBPA, argued that the injunction sought by SELC is nothing
more than a blatant attempt to create six new wildlife refuges within
the park. He called into question the data upon which the
injunctive relief is being sought. Finally, Couch stated, our
access is in jeopardy because of “the ineptness of the Park
Service over the last 35 years.”
What’s at stake was brought home by way of maps presented by
Frank Folb, Avon Property Owners Association. The maps were
supplied by the Park Service. The areas subject to closure
• Oregon Inlet just south of
ramp 4 (ocean and soundside).
• Ramp 44 by the Cape Point
Campground around to
ramp 45, which is the second road to the beach from the sand road that
parallels the campground.
• Hatteras Inlet from around the
cable crossing road south (ocean and soundside).
• Ocracoke North from just north
of ramp 59 (ocean and soundside).
• Ocracoke South from just south
of ramp 72 (ocean and soundside).
Folb’s maps did not present a pretty picture to those
assembled. He ended with the words—“There
it is in
front of you. That’s what it might be like next
It was made abundantly clear to all that this is not just a Hatteras
and Ocracoke problem. According to Carolyn McCormick, for
example, 30 percent of Dare County revenues derive from Hatteras
Island. It was also noted that there will be significant
spillover effects to the northern (off-island) villages and
beyond. “We must all pull together to fight this
battle” was a common theme stressed by all speakers.
Along these same lines, Commissioners Burrus and Judge urged all to get
According to Judge, “We've got seven days to make a
… We need to put a human face on this problem.”
Burrus went so far as to call for prayer. “This is
that wants to come in,” he said. “If we
don’t take a
stand against this now, we’ll be left with nothing.”
While the proceedings of the meeting left few with much to be
optimistic about, perhaps an option emerging from Sen.
office offered a glimmer of hope. Representing Basnight,
Dillon set forth what might be called the “nuclear
option.” It is to take the same action as was taken
Yosemite to prevent an ORV shutdown. It may be necessary,
said, to push for federal legislation. At the meeting, copies
a letter from Basnight to the members of North Carolina’s
Congressional delegation were distributed. The following
is taken from this letter:
I write today to urge you to pass legislation as soon as possible to
clarify the Park Service’s previously expressed intent to
maintain public access, particularly vehicle access, to the Seashore.
This issue is time-sensitive and is of critical importance to the lives
– and livelihoods – of the people of the Outer
Of those in attendance, many indicated that they were just coming up to
speed on the issues. Others were looking for updates on the
events of the last two weeks. For example, Misty Gillikin, a
estate agent, said, “I should not be saying, ‘I
know,’ if someone asks me what is happening.”
Many came to see what they could do to help. Terri Williams
Stacy, N.C., came to take back information to Cape Lookout Mobile
Sports Fishermen, in the hope that they would join in the fight.
Many attendees were island residents and property owners.
these, Dave Parks of Avon came to find out what the Dare County Board
of Commissioners and the Visitors Bureau plan to do. The
was attentive, and at times, solemn in mood. Most stayed
the meeting was adjourned around 8:15 p.m.
meeting planned next week for northern beaches
Another public information meeting on beach access is scheduled for
Wednesday, April 2, at 6:30 p.m. at First Flight High School
from the community meeting on beach access
provided by Boyer Video, Inc.
Remarks of Bobby Otten, Dare County attorney
Remarks of John Couch, president of the Outer Banks Preservation Association
Frank Folb with Maps of Beach Closures