letter to NCBBA from the seashore superintendent
Note: This article is republished from the current issue of
North Carolina Beach Buggy Association Bulletin.)
of you know this winter has been unusually long and cold, which has
tested the resolve of our visitors with ice on the sound and snow in
the dunes. Because of this, visitation is down a bit so far
year, as compared to last year, but I am hopeful spring will be upon us
soon as there are many signs of its imminent arrival, such as the
flowering plants and wildlife returning to the Seashore.
was on the beach just the other day, taking in the sights, sounds, and
smells, as I am ready to trade these winter clothes for warmer days,
but on that day I was still bundled up in my winter apparel and was the
only soul on the beach. As I watched the pounding surf
with a strong northeast wind, which made for an amazing demonstration,
I had the honor to observe and reflect on two of Mother Nature’s key
elements at odds. As I left the beach that cold, windy, and
turbulent day I could not help but focus towards the future and on a
time that these elements will again be working in harmony ensuring this
National Treasure is utilized by our visitors, both this generation and
many more to follow.
The members of the North Carolina
Beach Buggy Association, as well as our visitors, represent several
generations who enjoy and contemplate this special place in their own
unique ways. I want to thank you for allowing me to share
the exciting projects we have been working on and have planned for the
near future to ensure this treasured landscape is accessible for not
only this generation but future generations.
exciting development is the seashore partnering with Hatteras Island
Ocean Center and Nerds Without Borders to develop technology that could
potentially aid us in monitoring sea turtle nests. The
Sense” project is in its second year of development but still very much
in its infancy.
Custom built smart sensors are being
used to detect movement and temperature within sea turtle
Mobile phone technology is used to transmit the data collected from
individual nests which is transmitted to a central location monitoring
the nests. Through the use of this innovative technology, the
seashore is hoping to be able to accurately predict sea turtle hatching
and emergence events. It will take a few years and a number
trials to make sure that the sensors function properly and can be
relied upon, but the ultimate goal of this project is to reduce the
amount of time the seashore will need to close sections of beach to
ORVs and pedestrians.
addition to being prime habitat for sea turtles, the seashore also
plays a vital role in the survival of many other wildlife species by
providing a variety of important habitats. Be it for nesting,
resting, or feeding, the seashore has a diverse assemblage of
birds. Located on a major avian migratory route known as the
Atlantic Flyway, the seashore was designated as a globally important
bird area in 1999 by the American Bird Conservancy in recognition of
the value the Seashore provides to bird migration, breeding, and
wintering. Because of this we have several pending research
projects in the works and I wanted to share a couple of them with you.
are collaborating with North Carolina State and the U. S. Geological
Survey to assess the effects of predator and vehicle management
practices on breeding American Oystercatchers (AMOY) at the
seashore. The study will be comprised of two
One component will examine the historic predator and vehicle management
practices and AMOY distribution, abundance, and productivity data to
assess whether these practices are meeting the Seashore’s short and
long-term objectives. The second component will be to conduct
experimental evaluation of current vehicle and pedestrian closures for
breeding AMOY to determine the relationship between closure type, size,
and duration, and AMOY behavior, physiology, and nesting
These methods were developed at Cape Lookout National Seashore from
2010-2012 and will be used to quantify the sensitivity of nesting birds
to vehicles and pedestrians.
We have also started conversations
with researchers at Virginia Tech regarding conducting piping plover
work at the seashore during the 2015 breeding season. Because
the extremely low sample size (only nine breeding pairs in 2013) and
all chicks fledging from the same area (Cape Point), designing a
meaningful study can be difficult. Studies that are being
considered include plover chick buffer distances and realistic fledge
rates for the area. Other adaptive management
in the ORV Plan will also be considered in our discussions with
Hatteras National Seashore is going mobile! We are currently designing
a free mobile app, which will allow interactive, real-time discovery of
beach and sound access, ocean conditions, safety information, and
of Online Off-Road Vehicle Permits
December 1, 2013, the seashore in conjunction with Recreation.gov
launched an online ORV permit program. This was done to
convenient and guaranteed way of obtaining a permit without having to
go to one of the three permit office locations. This allows
visitors from outside the area to better plan their vacations ahead of
time. Permits can be purchased by visiting our website
Once purchased using the Recreation.gov website, you can choose to pick
up the permit at an ORV office or have it mailed directly to you.
going online, 2,277 total permits have been sold with 261 of those
permits being sold online as of March 24, which includes 202 annual and
49 weekly permits. Of these 261 permits, 166 were mailed out
which is almost 64 percent of total sales. Since the start of
program online permits have made up approximately 11 percent of our
total permit sales. Online annual permit sales are comprised
roughly 11 percent of total annual permits sales while the online sales
to date on weekly permits is about 20 percent.
park recently finalized the Environmental Assessment for improvements
to facilitate access to the seashore and the following list represents
the initial projects of the entire 29 proposed projects. A
majority of these projects will be funded with ORV funds.
Ramp at 25.5 with foot trail or boardwalk to the beach. (Contract
awarded and final design is expected May 1 with construction following
- ORV Ramp at 32.5 with a ten car
parking lot and foot trail to the beach.
- Elevated section of Lighthouse
Road to address flooding at Ramps 43 and 44.
interdunal road between Ramp 45 and Ramp 49 with new Ramp 48 to the
beach (Ramp has been moved from 47.5 to 48) - this will facilitate ORV
and pedestrian access and improve safety conditions along NC-12.
- Ten car parking area about one
mile south of Ramp 23 with foot trail to the beach.
Ramp 59.5 at north Ocracoke – facilitate access to year-round ORV route
that starts 0.5 miles southwest of ramp 59.5 to new Ramp 63.
- ORV Ramp 63 across from Scrag
- Fifteen car parking area west side
of highway near Kite Point.
- Fifteen car parking area at
soundside access #59 with foot trail from highway to beach.
- Five car parking area and foot
trail to beach at soundside Ramp 48.
projects will take many years to complete but we hope to be able to
utilize in-house staff to create the ramps and interdunal road in the
near future with the completion of the entire project as money becomes
available. The order of these projects is not static as there
could be factors such as environment, funding and others that will help
determine the prioritized order but these are the areas the park
intends to focus on first.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is
a special place with many recreational possibilities. Our
to enhance the visitor experience by not only protecting and better
understanding the resources that make this place so special, but
increasing visitor’s access to those resources and the recreation they
I thank you for your support and appreciation
for the Seashore and the opportunity to meet and work with the members
of your organization. It is my belief we have similar goals
passion for this remarkable place. On behalf of not only the
National Park Service but Cape Hatteras National Seashore I hope
everyone enjoys their season on the seashore as I know I
more information on The North Carolina Beach Buggy Association, go to http://ncbbaonline.com/.)