Beach Access Issues
February 11,  2009

Dare County launches Web site to preserve beach access

An informative and interactive Web site has been launched by the grassroots campaign to preserve access to America’s beaches.  The Web site address is It features comprehensive coverage about the issue of beach access in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area (CHNSRA).  The campaign is supported by the Dare County Board of Commissioners in partnership with the Dare County Tourism Board. explains the history of Cape Hatteras, the first national seashore, and how it was created with the solemn promise to the people of Dare County that recreational access would never be denied.  A variety of “My Story” videos share personal experiences of how lives and businesses have been negatively impacted by the restrictions imposed last year by a consent decree that ended a federal lawsuit against the Park Service by environmental groups and resulted in unprecedented closures of seashore beaches to protect shorebirds and turtles.

A vital part of preserving beach access is building a database of support from residents and visitors.  “Act Now” is an online opportunity to join the grassroots campaign at and show you care about beach access.  As legislative issues arise, those in the database will automatically be kept informed and learn how to take appropriate action in support of open and accessible beaches.

In launching the Web site, Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Warren Judge said, “Our people have been hurt by the efforts to restrict beach access.”  He explained, “ is a reliable source where people can get honest information about the issue and help preserve our culture, history, and way of life.”   

The county has hired a full-time employee, Gary Gross, to coordinate the campaign and Web site. Gross will work in the county’s public relations department at a salary of $57,644.  The position is being funded by a grant of $80,000 to the county from the Dare County Tourism Board to cover the salary and employee benefits.

Gross has been a Dare County employee since 2001, when he joined Emergency Medical Services as an EMT.  Dorothy Toolan, Dare County’s public information officer, said that Gross also has a background in communications, broadcasting, and marketing.

Toolan said his duties will include managing the Web site’s database, developing a marketing plan, maintaining contact with lawmakers on legislation, and speaking engagements.

Toolan added that the county had a $4,950 contract for development of the Web site.  Normally, she said, the work would have been done by the county’s Information Technology Department but was contracted out to get the site online more quickly.

An update on beach access legislation re-introduced by U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and a diary of Jimmy Buffett’s most recent visit to the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area can now be seen at

Dare County officials encourage residents and visitors to visit the Web site regularly for the latest beach access information and bookmark as a favorite site on their computer.  

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