October 2, 2013
Folks who want to go to the beach during the
shutdown are managing to get there
By ISLAND FREE PRESS STAFF
second day of the federal government shutdown that has closed all the
Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches was another perfect beach day.
it seemed that plenty of people were managing to get to the beach by
finding a place to park, closed or not, and walking over the dunes or
through private property.
Technically, all of the ocean beaches
and the sound beaches between the villages, owned by the National Park
Service, are closed to the public.
However, park officials have made it clear they won’t try to clear folks off the beaches in the villages.
although the park has closed and barricaded several oceanside parking
areas, some folks were using them anyway – and apparently not getting
much of a hassle.
At Sandy Bay parking area just east of
Hatteras village and at the Frisco bathhouse, there were a dozen or so
cars and folks were carrying chairs out to the beach.
parking along Lighthouse Road before the barricade and walking to the
beach at the old site of the Hatteras Light. They were also
parking along Old Lighthouse Road and hiking across private property to
get to the ocean.
There were also cars at the ramp south of Avon and several between Avon and the tri-villages.
unhappiest visitors were definitely the anglers who come here for the
fall fishing and want to load up ORVs with coolers, bait, tackle, rods,
and chairs to spend a day on the beach. There is definitely no
ORV access for these folks. And many of them had already bought their
$50 permit for the week and saltwater fishing licenses.
Carpenter, Libby Wyont, and Ernest Carpenter are from Bessemer City,
N.C. They have been coming to Hatteras since 1960 nearly every
“It was really disappointing. We planned this trip
for a whole year. We fish and we haven’t really been able
to. It’s been a disappointment,” said Jean Carpenter as the group
toured around Hatteras village.
Her husband, Ernest, added, “We
paid $50 to drive on the beach because she (Jean) can’t walk really
well. She can’t park and walk over, and so it doesn’t do us any
good. And they aren’t refunding us the money. We also got a
saltwater fishing license, and if we can’t go to the shoreline to fish,
then it won’t do us any good.”
They didn’t know about the
government shutdown of the beaches, which began yesterday morning,
until a man stopped them on the beach and warned them that a ranger
said that he would be back to kick them off.
not their fault,” said Jean. “We’ve still enjoyed it. We always
love, you know, coming out here. It seems like it’s a part of
us. And we drive 450 miles to get here.”
They are talking about leaving early but haven’t decided yet.
“We just keep hoping maybe it’ll reopen tomorrow or Friday. We just don’t know,”said Ernest.
Groups of anglers were also finding it tough going today on Ocracoke.
Esham, of the Pony Island Motel, noted that several groups checked out
early from the hotel and some are canceling their upcoming reservations.
Usually, the whole month of October is good, she said.
“This is our peak surf fishing season for groups of men,” she said, “and, unfortunately, they’re not interested in shopping.”
Leslie Gilbert of the Anchorage Inn noted that some callers are waiting to make reservations to see what happens.
such regular group of eight men from Sanford, N.C., was cooling their
heels in their rental house along Back Road. Their annual
trip to Ocracoke for fall drum fishing has come to a screeching halt
with no advance warning.
“Our travel insurance doesn’t cover a governmental shut down,” noted Al Pettigrew.
He and Ronny Apple sat outside under a cloudless, windless day that would have been perfect beach weather.
noted that if the shutdown is not lifted after tonight’s meeting
between Congressional leaders and the President, they will pack up and
Tom and Joyce Williams of Asheville, N.C., were contemplating their next move outside their room at Edward’s of Ocracoke.
Tom was especially upset that he gambled on purchasing a beach-driving permit late Monday.
government workers who sold it to me couldn’t comment as to whether it
would be good or not,” he said. “I’m going to take that sticker and
send it to Rep. Mark Meadows and ask him to give me a refund.”
fishing group said they went to the north end of the island (at the
Hatteras dock) and walked with their gear to the beach to fish.
lot of people are aggravated here,” noted Jeff Purser of this
seven-member group of men who have come from the western part of the
state to fish here for five years. Two in his group have bad legs
and so need to be able to drive onto the beach.
“It’s a cryin’
shame,” he said. “It’s 12 hours from the time I get up till the time I
get here,” he continued, adding that his group will remain through the
week despite the beach closures. The men went out flounder gigging one
night but caught very little.
Nonetheless, he is concerned that the government is trying to run all the fishermen off Ocracoke.
“We’re thinking of going to Emerald Isle next year,” he said.
and James Curlee of Albemarle traveled to Ocracoke for the day from
their campsite on Hatteras to enjoy a picnic lunch at the end of the
NPS parking lot near the sound. Since they are in a private
campground, they have access to both the beach and the sound. But
they were not happy about the shut down.
“It’s a shame and a
disgrace,” James said, echoing many others and adding that the gate
across the road to the Hatteras Lighthouse kept them from simply
walking around it.
“I don’t see why we can’t walk around these
monuments and go on the beaches,” he said. “(These monuments) belong to
the taxpayers, not the federal government.”
Other folks were touring around, shopping, and eating in Hatteras village at mid-day yesterday.
Among them were Doug and Hoa Taylor of Garland, Texas.
doing okay,” Doug said. “We went to the beach -- actually we went
across because some of the access points were open. They would
have a tough time kicking everyone off the beach because there were so
many people out there.
“This hasn’t really affected us that much
because we don’t spend a lot of time on the water’s edge because Hoa
doesn’t want to tan and I only burn.”
“I’m not going to
lay over and die, we’re just going to make other plans, and we
definitely won’t plan on coming down here in October again,” he said.
Robert Hughes and his wife and their two children, Murray, 7, and Hazel Kate, 4, are visiting Hatteras from Durham, N.C.
things have been affected, you know, you can’t get right up to the
lighthouse, but we can still go to the beach,” Robert said. “I think
that if we were big surf fishers then it would be a much bigger deal,
but as far as the kids are concerned, they haven’t noticed any
“I have,” Murray objected. “I noticed that all the
beach accesses are chained off and a little further down the road there
are a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road and people are
climbing over the dunes.”
“We still get to splash in the water,” said Hazel Kate.
seems like they’re sort of serious about shutting it (the beaches)
down, but I can’t tell that they’re writing any sort of citations for
anyone,” Robert said.
They’re still enjoying their time here
because the weather is gorgeous. It just seems silly to the
Hughes family that they’re turning people away.
here two days before the shutdown and hadn’t really thought about it
because I forgot that this is all a national seashore,” he said.
They said they intend to stay because they are doing “pretty much what we wanted to do here.”
commented that the park rangers had been really nice and even
recommended other places to go when they’ve run into closures.
Claire Corn of Ashville is staying in Buxton.
it hasn’t really affected us much except for the (Visitor Center) being
closed. We stopped in because we wanted to find out where to eat,
but it was shutdown. Other than that, we’re staying in Buxton and
where we’re staying they have private access so we can still go to the
were able to go to the lighthouse before the shutdown and as long as
they don’t shutdown the ferry then we’re okay,” she added.
“The weather’s beautiful and we’re having a good time.”
Stevens is the National Park Service’s chief enforcement ranger for the
seashore, and he’s serving as incident commander for the
shutdown. He is one of 13 employees, mostly in law enforcement,
who have not been furloughed.
He said the rangers report that 98 to 99 percent of the visitors are understanding, and only a small number get angry.
was only one ticket written yesterday, he said, and that was on
Ocracoke. A couple were riding a golf cart on a park trail and
were told by a ranger they couldn’t be there. Stevens said the
couple went back to the village, got their pickup truck, ran around a
blockade at a ramp, and over bushes to get to the beach.
have been several acts of vandalism, he added. Swastikas were
painted on signs at Buxton and Canadian Hole. The chain at Ramp
55 in Hatteras village was vandalized three times and the barricade at
Ramp 72 on Ocracoke, once.
Business owners we contacted today
said they were holding their own but didn’t know how long they could if
the shutdown continues any length of time.
As of this evening,
the President and Congressional leaders were meeting, but there has
been no indication of when or how the shutdown will end.
(Irene Nolan and Lara Rizuitti on Hatteras and Connie Leinbach on Ocracoke contributed to this article.)
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