October 16, 2013
Rules of seashore shutdown ease this week as
Congress appears ready to end the standoff
By IRENE NOLAN
changes to the rules of the 16-day-old government shutdown on the Cape
Hatteras National Seashore have helped to ease the situation this week
for visitors and business owners.
And today, there is finally
some hope that Congress will pass legislation to end the standoff,
keeping the government operating and raising the debt ceiling.
Senate is expected to take up the legislation late today or this
evening, with the House voting, late tonight or tomorrow morning.
it’s not a done deal yet, local businesses and groups that have
upcoming special events on the seashore are beginning to breathe a sigh
On Saturday night, the National Park Service in
Washington reversed itself and decided that some concessions in some
parks could reopen.
Avon Pier and Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reopened on Sunday.
businesses have concession agreements with the seashore, and the first
guidelines from Washington required that they close for the duration of
Some have asked why the state-owned Graveyard of
the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras village, which is located on seashore
property, did not have to close. The answer is that the museum
has a memorandum of agreement with the Park Service and not a
Also, this week, the Park Service announced
that commercial fishermen, including those who fish for bait for tackle
shops, will be allowed back on the beach under a special arrangement.
Anyone who is interested should contact chief law enforcement ranger Paul Stevens at [email protected].
this week, some of the barricades that were keeping the parking areas
at the Canadian Hole/Haulover area closed were removed by the Park
Service after consultation with the Dare County Sheriff’s Office.
north/northeast winds have been blowing all week, and kiteboarders and
windsurfers have been flocking to the area and parking in the Highway
12 right-of-way. The vehicles were a safety hazard along the highway,
where the speed limit is 55 mph.
In the rest of the seashore,
ORVs are still banned from the beaches, but a skeleton staff of park
rangers is not hassling beachgoers and fishermen who are using the
parking areas and hiking across the dunes to the beach.
officials and groups have also been exploring other ways of getting the
seashore open – even without legislation in Congress.
The National Park Service announced it would work with governors to reopen some parks if the states agreed to pick up the bill.
states have chosen this route, and North Carolina and Tennessee joined
them today when it was announced that the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park would reopen today through Sunday with the two states
sharing the bill.
According to press reports, North Carolina
Gov. Pat McCrory said he is interested in opening more parks in this
manner, but is hindered by the Park Service’s insistence that all of a
park must be opened and not just certain areas or services.
Judge, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, sent a
letter to McCrory last week, asking him to consider funding Cape
Hatteras National Seashore. As of last evening, Judge said he had
heard “not a peep” from Raleigh.
Meanwhile, the Outer Banks
Preservation Association’s attorneys were dealing directly with the
Interior Department to get its solicitors to review to seashore’s
enabling legislation to see if that would allow the park to reopen.
to the attorneys for VanNessFeldman in Washington, the U.S. Virgin
Islands National Park was opened over a week ago after NPS solicitors
determined that the enabling legislation says that nothing in the act
“shall be construed as authorizing any limitation on customary uses of
or access to the (park) for bathing and fishing (including setting out
fishpots and landing boats).”
The seashore’s enabling legislation has some similar language about the use of the beach to earn a livelihood by fishing.
David Scarborough of OBPA said the attorneys have not had a response from DOI.
today as members of Congress hustled to come up with a resolution to
the shutdown/debt ceiling standoff, two House of Representatives
committees grilled National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis for
more than five hours about exactly what was shut down and why and who
In what can be described only as a partisan media
spectacle, House member after House member made speeches to his or her
base audience. Before it was over, it seemed as if Jarvis has
been asked the finer details of every closed parking area, overlook,
turnout, monument, road, and facility in all of the country’s 401 parks.
as the signs were looking more promising on Capitol Hill, organizers of
some upcoming events were sweating bullets as the days of the shutdown
Bodie Island Light Keepers’ Direct Descendants Homecoming
more than a year, the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society has been planning
the gathering this weekend of the extended families of the keepers of
the Bodie Island Lighthouse.
Highlights of the event included
climbing to the top of the black-and-white banded tower, which opened
this year for public climbing for the first time.
federal government shutdown that resulted in closure of all the
national parks may make it impossible to even visit the grounds of the
If the site is still closed, however, the
homecoming will go on at the Comfort Inn South at Whalebone Junction in
Nags Head, a few miles north of the Bodie Island Light Station, said
Bett Padgett, president of the non-profit group.
Padgett said that about 300 descendents have registered for the event.
“The program is going to be the same, even if it is closed,” she said.
will be held on Friday from 3 p.m – 7 p.m. with light food and beverage
offerings and a cash bar. Genealogist Sandy Clunies will be on hand
with family group charts and to share her insight about the families.
Saturday, the event kicks off at 10 a.m. with the U.S. Coast Guard
Color Guard, followed by special guest speakers and musical
performances emceed by Outer Banks broadcast personality Ken Mann.
Lunch is included, and a photographer will be onsite for group
If the government is reopened by Thursday, Padgett
is optimistic that the homecoming will be able to be held as planned
under a tent on the grounds of the Bodie Island Lighthouse.
the Sunday program for children that was to be open to the public, she
said, will be rescheduled for another time. The main program on
Saturday will be held either way, with the focus on the thrill of
connecting with blood relatives who share a unique history.
are really excited to come and meet all their cousins and cousins once
or twice removed, and all of their family,” Padgett said. “We hope to
learn from them as well.”
For updated information, visit www.outerbankslighthousesociety.org
Capital City Four Wheelers Surf Fishing Tournament
annual event usually draws 500 to 600 anglers to Hatteras Island for
around-the-clock fishing. The turnout this year is anybody’s
guess, though the organizers are forging ahead.
is Saturday into Sunday and headquarters will be at the Fessenden
Center in Buxton. More information is available at
NCBBA Red Drum Tournament
of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association Red Drum Tournament have
refused to give up on this annual event, which is scheduled for
Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 24-26, with headquarters at Frank and
Fran’s tackle shop in Avon.
If legislation to reopen the government does really get done this week, it looks as if they will make it.
For more information, go to
Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament
tournament is one of the biggest of the fall fishing season, and looks
right now to be in the clear for Wednesday through Saturday, Nov. 6-9.
About 120 teams of six persons each usually participate in the tournament, which started in 1958.
You can get more information at the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club website, www.capehatterasanglersclub.org.
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