has taken on the National Park Service over its decision to eliminate
lifeguards on the beaches in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
protests Park Service
elimination of lifeguarded beaches
Superintendent Barclay Trimble, who made this decision in November,
said that de-funding the lifeguard program at these three beaches is
necessary because of budget constraints.
“Given our current
budget realities and the uncertainty for the future, the National Park
Service is exercising extreme caution in spending to ensure that
available funding is directed towards the highest priorities,” Trimble
said in a news release last year.
According to an article at the
time in The Island Free Press, lifeguard operations on all three
lifeguarded beaches – Coquina, Buxton, and Ocracoke – in the seashore
will be discontinued. The program cost for lifeguards at
beaches is $200,000.
The Ocracoke Civic and Business Association
on March 12 had a conference call with Trimble during its monthly
meeting to discuss this situation. Some of the speakers at
meeting reminded Trimble about the NPS’s own policy manual that states
“the protection of human life is the highest priority.”
asked if the $2 million collected in beach driving permits in 2013
could be used for lifeguards. However, Trimble said the beach driving
permit monies are designated only for improving beach access.
access is beach safety, which should mean lifeguards,” noted Rudy
Austin, OCBA president, who noted that the NPS began the lifeguard
service in the 1950s.
To several Ocracoke residents’ comments,
Trimble continued to say that his budgetary constraints and the need to
“balance services” do not allow for the hiring of lifeguards.
the meeting, Hyde County manager Bill Rich said that he and Joe
McClees, one of the two-member
lobby team hired by Hyde County to advocate on several fronts for
coastal North Carolina, have a meeting scheduled March 26 at the White
House in Washington, D.C., with a high-level NPS official about this
The OCBA has begun a petition to restore lifeguards at www.change.org.
To view the petition and sign it, follow this link: http://www.change.org/petitions/save-our-lifeguards-put-lifeguards-back-on-our-beaches#
Hyde County commissioners at their monthly meeting March 10 decided to
send a resolution to Trimble advocating for the reinstatement of
lifeguards on Ocracoke.
Commenting on the need for the
resolution, Commissioner Dick Tunnell said: “Ocracoke has been hit with
paying all these fees. We ought to go to bat for them.”