Beach Access Issues
March 31, 2009

Two more vandalism incidents result in expanded buffers


Two new vandalism incidents have resulted in expanded buffers at shorebird protection areas in Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  Both incidents, discovered over the weekend, are being investigated by National Park Service law enforcement personnel and were evaluated by park management on Monday, March 30.

One incident occurred at the northeast end of the Hatteras Inlet spit prenesting area, located just south of the southern terminus of Pole Road, where 17 bird closure signs were destroyed.  The second incident occurred at the west end of the South Beach pre-nesting area where two posts and a barrier rope that provided a clear closure boundary at the edge of the intertidal zone had been removed and were missing. 

The court ordered consent decree mandates that if a confirmed deliberate act that disturbs or harasses wildlife or vandalizes fencing, nests, or plants occurs, NPS shall automatically expand the buffer by 50 meters on the first offense, 100 meters on the second, and 500 meters on the third. 

As a result of the expansion at Hatteras Inlet spit, approximately 0.1 mile of beach south of the southern end of Pole Road is closed to access. However, the Pole Road remains open.  On South Beach, access has been reduced by 50 meters on the west side of the current resource closure.

NPS law enforcement personnel continue to investigate these two incidents.  If anyone has information about any of these violations, please call Dare Community Crime Line at 252-473-3111.  Destruction of government property and entering a resource closure are federal criminal violations, each subject up to a $5,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment.

For up-to-date information on currently open or closed areas, check the Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s Google Earth maps at:  http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/googleearthmap.htm





March 24, 2009


First resource closure violation reported on Ocracoke


On Monday morning, March 23, National Park Service (NPS) staff discovered vandalism of symbolic fencing marking a shorebird pre-nesting closure at the South Point area on Ocracoke Island.  Five “Area Closed” signs on 2-by-2 inch wooden posts were broken off at the sand line.  Vehicle tracks were visible at three of the broken signs but no footprints were observed in the area.  

As required by the court-ordered consent decree, a deliberate act of vandalism to fencing results in a mandatory 50 meter expansion of the closure area.  Because of the narrow width of the beach at this location, the expanded buffer has closed some of the beach at South Point to off-road vehicles. ORV access is now allowed along the ocean shoreline to the southeast corner of the point only, but precluded past that location by the mandatory buffer expansion.  Pedestrian access below the high tide line is permitted past the buffer expansion along portions of the inlet shoreline outside of the established pre-nesting area.  

Superintendent Mike Murray reiterated the need for all parties, including the public, to comply with the consent decree requirements.  

“This deliberate act of vandalism is contemptible and appears to be aimed at reducing access for the many park visitors who do comply with park regulations,” Murray said. “This is an early reminder that future acts of intentional vandalism to resource protection areas will result in greater expansion of the buffers as required under the consent decree.”   

In 2008 the park experienced six deliberate violations of resource protection areas, and each time the buffers were expanded.  Destruction of government property and entering a resource closure are federal criminal violations, each subject up to a $5,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment.  

If anyone has information about this violation, please call National Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers at 252-928-5111.

For up-to-date information on currently open or closed areas, check the Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s Google Earth maps at:  http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/googleearthmap.htm


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