April 2012 Letters To The Editor
New Letters to the Editor....04.26.2012 5:00 pm
Island Living: The trouble with the term ‘environmentalist’
So well put. I am in awe! I am an environmentalist, have lived in Virginia Beach, and now live in Charlottesville and have been driving on the beaches in Outer Banks for 34 years. I am not a local, but visit at least 5-6 times a year, and hope it to be a permanent resident someday soon. I could not have voiced my opinion on the matter any better. Thank you!
P.S. Thank you so much for saving that crab!
Guest Column: A family’s safety for the birds?
Cars on the beach are just a bad idea! Just because Grandpa used to do it, it does not mean we have to! Why can't we leave the cars on the road and simply walk on the beach? It would be safer, and it would help us to better maintain the natural integrity of one of America's most wonderful stretches of beach. Besides, most Americans could certainly use the exercise. Offer a limited number of permits to fisherman and locals who get some type of training or education and restrict everyone else. That's the solution.
What can I do to help the people and how do I share this article?
I'm sure all this will be twisted to support the argument that folks shouldn't have been allowed on the beach at all, since obviously nature is unpredictable. See how dangerous it is? See how these children were put in harm’s way just because their parents wanted to drive on the beach! Just you wait, they will ignore the fact that there was a safe exit available and focus on the "danger" of being out there in the first place. They'll find a way to close the entire area in an effort to "protect" the public from themselves.
I shudder to think about what was going through those folks’ minds as this was happening. And to think the park so-called service thinks like this. They should be replaced! Period!
UPDATE: Federal government responds to CHAPA lawsuit
When I was younger, taboo behaviors were immoral, illegal, or fattening. Of late, the NPS and its co-conspirators have extended this list to include "without scientific merit," "contrary to the public good," and "stupid." Choose all three.
Let us hope this time for a logical, unbiased and fair judiciary who can see the final rule and consent decree for what they are-- government run amok.
UPDATE: Lobbyists say fight to stop ferry toll increases isn’t over yet
My family and I have visited Hatteras at least twice a year for the past 35 years and we absolutely love it. The ferry tolls should go up, but only for out of state residents who are vacationing there to help generate revunue for the area and road work. Residents should not have to pay to get to their houses. I feel very appalled that now we have to pay to drive on the beach and that residents would have to pay for a ferry ride to Ocracoke that has been free up to this, but I do agree with the fishing licenses and I understand why that needed to happen.
What the government doesn't understand is they will be hurting the local businesses and residents by putting this into play. Tourism will decrease and destroy the local economy. I am hoping that things will work out for the best and please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
There were no smiles in sight, but first day of permit sales at Hatteras was uneventful
It is just not right to be taxed or charged this fee. Just to say that other beaches charge a fee does not make it right. We, the people, need to do what we can to get this like it always has been. I was told the money would stay local, about as local as our Social Security has stayed. Just wait, it will not stay $120. My college-age grandson cannot now afford to drive on the beach. This is the separation of the classes. Why not charge $500 and keep even more people off the beach? I am fed up. The Park Service has failed us.
Bodie Island Lighthouse restoration resumes
I'm so, so happy about the continuing restoration. I was so disappointed that the lighthouse wouldn't be available for climbing when the last restoration revealed new problems. I can't wait to photograph the sound from the top.
UPDATE: Plans for the Hatteras Island Ocean Center moving forward
As a CHEC member, I do not want to see my money used for this project.
Jones introduces bill to overturn both ORV final rule and consent decree
As a 30-plus year visitor and surf fisherman at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, I have enjoyed year after year of responsible surf fishing. I, too, respect and protect the flora and fauna of the area, but not at the expense of the reason the national park was created by Congress in the first place. By visiting our beaches and villages, we contribute to the local economy that the people on Highway 12 desperately need during these lean economic times. Closing vast areas of the beaches to the citizen/fisherman/tourist is much like the financial disaster caused by Hurricane Isabel. We will have to reconsider whether to visit and fish on the Outer Banks, one to three times a year, if there is no place to surf fish! Thank you for your dedication to the citizens of North Carolina.
Historic Hatteras Lighthouse lens was “lost” during Civil War
The "obscure farming community in Granville County, N.C.," where the "lens" was hidden during the Civil War is what is now the City of Henderson, which became part of Vance County in 1881 when it was carved from Granville County.
Henderson is my hometown, and stories there tell of the lens being taken from the lighthouse and moved along eastern North Carolina and eventually to Weldon to Townsville Railroad (to just west of what is now Kerr Lake near the Virginia border). It was supposedly taken by horse-drawn cart to Henderson where it was hidden and never located by Union troops during the war.
After the war, it was said to have been "located" but dismantled and stored in various sheds and barns about town. Legend has it that Henderson residents holding parts of the lens offered to return them to the government only if a "reward" was given to them as a sort of finder's fee. I don't know if all the parts were ever found and reclaimed by the government.
Whenever I am fishing at OBX, I look at the lighthouse and wonder if some of my relatives might still have some pieces of that Fresnel lens in their attics.
New Letters to the Editor....04.20.2012 11:00 am
Guest Column: A family’s safety for the birds?New Letters to the Editor....04.13.2012 10:15 am
I am writing to add a few more facts to the story that Andrew Maxwell relayed about being stranded on Cape Point. My adult son and I entered the area around 11a.m., and there was no evidence of water having been up to the dunes at the “narrows.” We were enjoying a rare day together fishing the Point like we have done so many times in years gone by.
We were alerted by another fisherman to the potential washover and packed up quickly. Our way was blocked, as Andrew stated, by a stuck vehicle. Many of us walked up to the worst section and knew we could not possibly go through there for hours. One fellow, Bob, had called the NPS and was essentially told we were out of luck as they would not let us go through a safe corridor in the bird enclosure.
I called the number on my yellow permit and spoke with a female dispatcher. She told me there was no way the bird enclosure would be moved. I asked to speak to a ranger and she said, "I will have one call you." I gave her my name and cell phone number. I told here there were women and children (Andrew's) involved, and she simply stated again that the NPS will not move the enclosure. I told her that I believed that human beings were more important than any bird. She told me we were not in any danger.
The ranger never called or left me a message. My phone was working fine, as my wife, who was back at the motel, and I spoke several times about the severe thunderstorm threat for Buxton flashing across the TV screen. As darkness fell, the anxiety was increasing as the water would flow under the trucks, forcing us to move several times.
Andrew and the four trucks with him made it out, but there was one that got stuck midway to the “narrows.” After four hours, several more of us made the run and were out of danger.
A dispatcher sitting in a room can state you are not in danger, but with lightning in the distance, darkness surrounding you, and shallow water flowing under your truck, I disagree.
The response to Andrew's article by Paul Stevens and Cyndy Holda makes my blood boil. Yes, we saw the warning of possible overwash in NPS literature. There was no evidence of previous water at the last high tide. I do not know how Ranger Stevens could judge the degree of danger from wherever he was sitting. If the ranger who got off at 6 p.m. stayed longer, I did not see him at 9 o’clock when I got out. Where is the ranger that comes on at 6 p.m.? For Cyndy Holda to state "We always err on the side of safety" is laughable.
I am 58 years old and have never encountered the disregard for human safety that the NPS at Cape Hatteras demonstrated. I cannot believe that any law enforcement department in our hometowns would tell you there will be no one coming to assist you and you cannot leave by another safe corridor. I can only ask if Stevens and Holda would treat their family members the way we were treated? Indeed not.
Jerry L. Posenau
Wow! I just reserved two weeks at a campground on the Outer Banks. Our family recently sold our boat because of being four hours from the beach and gas prices, but we are wanting to go back for surf fishing. I sure hope this won't be a bust. We love our campground and everyone there, but if the beaches are shut down, we will shorten our stay or find somewhere else to camp...I am hoping for a good solution to this mess.
If one of the children was hurt or the girl was sicker than they realized, who would have been responsible? This smacks of collective punishment. Why were the children put at risk for the mistakes of their parents when the Park Service had a safe option that posed no threat to the birds, anyone or anything?
If one of those children had been hurt, who would pay the price for the lawsuit, the rangers or the taxpayers?
These weren't just old fisherman taking calculated risks. Children were involved.
An emergency is defined as "when life or property is at risk." It is very difficult to comprehend that both Stevens and Holda have such blatant disregard for the welfare of taxpayers who put food on the
table for their families -- possibly someone should remind them!!
The Outer Banks belong to the American people. The Park Service, which works for the people, is commissioned to take care of it for the public to enjoy for generations to come. But, like other recent
public/government-involved situations, the government always acts overly supreme. We're a bunch of dithering idiots, and they use absolutely no common sense anymore. A law is a law is a law, no matter what.
What Stevens and Holda did was just plain wrong. Their take on the situation was that they decided to wait until there was an emergency before doing what was the right thing to do in the first place -- get those families off the beach! If it was their grandbabies out there, what would the outcome have been?
Does it make any sense to anyone that not moving a rope that was arbitrarily placed in the first place should take precedence over human beings? Kids were in those vehicles, for crying out loud!
We now have generations of beach drivers in my family who've enjoyed all that God has granted us and have always been very mindful of the beach, the beach laws, and its inhabitants. We always leave the beach like we found it, except for maybe some tire tracks. The environmentalists would now like to take this very prized part of many lives away and just hoard the land because they can. This country is going down the tubes -- a little bit at a time -- and what we once enjoyed and reveled in will be given over to some birds that don't pay any taxes!
Glen Allen, Va.
Quoting Cyndy Holda, NPS public affairs specialist “We always err on the side of safety.” That statement is contradictory based the facts in the story. Are we going to wait until we have injury or loss of life before we use reasonable judgment? To think that ORV drivers must learn to “read the beach” and understand where and how they might be stranded in certain tide and wind events is not realistic.
People do make mistakes and will continue to do so. That evidence is clear by mistakes made by the visitors AND the NPS on April 4.
Mt Pleasant, N.C.
If the National Park Service erred on the side of safety, then surely they would have allowed these folks passage to safety. Human safety trumps the life of a bird and that is just plain common sense. Learning to read the beach also comes with experience and long time use and traveling on the beaches.
My dad was a retired U.S. Coast Guardsman and commercial fisherman on Hatteras Island. In the mid-1960s I was with him south of Cape Point checking his equipment, which the Parks Service allowed
fisherman to leave on the beach, when our vehicle drowned out in water.
District Ranger Clay Caudill, later my assistant chief ranger during my career with the NPS, happened to be on beach patrol, got out in the rain, and assisted my dad in getting the vehicle to dry sand.
District Ranger Caudill did what rangers were taught to do -- help the public, using common sense and getting the job done. Years later, in the early 1970s, I was taught the same thing. Today it seems the use of good old-fashioned common sense has gone by the wayside because the men and women on the patrol levels do not have the latitude of discretion of their predecessors. On the other hand, if they have discretion, they don’t use it wisely. It is a shame to see things go in this direction.
I dare say that on the mere five-foot section there wasn’t any "bird activity." It was fenced off, and because of pressure from environmental groups and the higher chain of command, the staff was afraid to use the discretion and common sense of their predecessors.
This is just nuts -- birds versus people and the Park Service decides to "get tough"? There will be a tragedy there with this insistence of "protecting" wildlife, even though they kill lots of wildlife while protecting. Oh, sorry, that's just predator control. What was I thinking?
All that was needed was just one of the stranded with a set big enough to put it in low range and run that enclosure over to safety. That one would have won in court, too.
What would happen if you were stranded after 10 p.m.?
One word to the park service response: hogwash!
Mary Hughes Becker
Bird lovers and tree huggers are always right. If your truck would have washed away, they don’t care. They got to protect those birdies at all cost. What is the world coming to?
Tough situation. Law-abiding citizens worried about their children. Park ranger unwilling to bend. Tire tracks would have been gone by morning, and if the story had gotten out, the NPS might have gotten some good press. Wonder if that ranger stopped to think about how he'd feel if something had happened to those kids.
I'm just wondering what it is going to take with the liberals who love animals and mammals more than humans. I love them as well, but humans come first!
Siler City, N.C.
I was out surfing April 4 at the old lighthouse jetty with three other guys. I have been surfing there for 42 years and have never seen a swell jump up as quickly as it did that afternoon. Yes, the tides were higher than normal, but the rapid swell increase was something nobody saw -- even several highly experienced surfers.
So just because the NPS issued warnings earlier that day and has signs means that these people deserved to be put in danger? Seriously? I find it hard to believe that people came second to a pre-nesting area!
Fed Up With Beach Closures
Andy, I am glad your family got off the Point safely. This attitude of the NPS has prevailed ever since Mike Murray was sent down there. The first thing he did was bring the rangers down there to show people he could push the public around and they continue to do it.
If you think they care about the public, you are mistaken.
Thomas N. Zirkle
Well written. A perfect example of how the NPS and Audubon don't really give a damn about the homeowners and visitors of the Outer Banks. They are proving themselves to be perpetually hardheaded and insensitive. In essence, they are ruining the future of this community. A simple act of kindness was all that was asked and needed. Yet again, the NPS flexed their muscle and wouldn't allow a harmless short-term compromise for 19 families. Seems to me they just don't care. Obviously.
This NPS rationale is parochial and makes me sick.
Again, I was truly left speechless. What little respect for the NPS is now truly gone.
Virginia Beach, Va.
I can't believe the NPS would make those remarks and not allow the barrier to be adjusted for the vehicles to pass through. It sounds like all these people were in a dangerous situation. Yes, these situations may be pointed out on their permits, beach signs, etc, but there not always predictable by people -- experienced or not. Human life should always come first before a non-existent bird nest and certainly the NPS needs to be more flexible in the face of danger to people. I fail to see how a ranger monitoring the situation was going to save anyone's life, had it been necessary. I think the beach access issue has become a vendetta between the NPS and locals, along with vacationers. As a vactioner who wishes to be a local, I do side with the locals. The NPS has been totally inflexible and unbending toward everyone. The buffers are ridiculous. The whole situation is ridiculous!
This should also become another lawsuit again the NPS, the folks commissioned and paid to protect and serve the human race!
Mount Airy, Md.
Lobbyists say fight to stop ferry toll increases isn’t over yet
The most important issue is the increased burden on an already financially strapped area. The workers and locals who travel out of necessity are facing enough issues as it is.
On the other hand, the government is using fees to make up for the lack of tax money they are receiving at the present time, no matter the costs or pressure on the public.
Raising fees on vacationers is understandable, however not at such horrendous rate as I see listed here.
I am a native of the Outer Banks and live in another state. I am not opposed to paying an increase. The increase, though, should not be at such a level as to discourage use or put an added burden on those who travel out of necessity.
Attorney General Cooper is playing politics and when you play politics with the pocketbooks of the constituents at times like this, then time to be replaced for lack of common sense is in order.
Even though I am a Republican, I have got to give one to the governor for using good judgment on this one. To the Republican majority in the Senate, I say shame on you for raising the fees at a time like this at such an extreme rate. Charging so much per vehicle then so much per occupant is a bit much don't you think?
Island Living: The trouble with the term ‘environmentalist’
Well said, Joy. That deserves a high five and amen.
How can you be both enviro nut and a beach-driving fisherwoman? Okay, I get drunk six days a week and go to church on Sunday.
A tribute to my brother, Stewart Couch
I only had only one time meeting and speaking with you at the cottage with your crew in tow.
It was something I will always remember --laughs and grins. And what do you mean you don't sweep floors?
Thanks for the sun and surf. You will be missed.
Stuarts Draft, Va.
A touching tribute. He has had quite the adventures. Thank you for sharing.
Highway 12 has an uncertain future in an era of rising seas
I try to come down to fish at least twice a year. We need to keep Highway 12 open. I would be very glad to pay a toll to get to Hatteras Island. I think a lot of visitors would be willing to help pay to maintain Highway 12. We need keep this North Carolina attraction open to all who love the coast.
Park Service establishes colonial waterbird pre-nesting areas
Great! Just great!
I find it depressing that more areas of the beaches are closed, and NPS is using excuses not to show these areas on the Weekly Beach Access Summary or Google Earth maps. I feel this is their effort to minimize the public view of increasing closures.
Virginia Beach, Va.