October 7, 2014

Seashore's acting superintendent
updates NCBBA members


If there is anything that can be guaranteed, it is change.  Just as the ever changing and dynamic barrier islands of Cape Hatteras National Seashore constantly shift and alter, the people who are responsible for managing and protecting the seashore is ever changing.  

As some of you may know, I am currently serving in a temporary detail as the acting superintendent of the Outer Banks Group, which includes the seashore.  As the previous superintendent transitioned out and into his new position in the Southeast Regional Office, I transitioned into new responsibilities and challenges to fill the gap left in the interim until a new permanent superintendent is selected.  Currently, I am serving as the deputy superintendent of Glacier National Park in Montana, whose rugged mountains are in stark contrast to the gentle rolling dunes of the seashore.  

I am excited and humbled at the opportunity to continue the great work that is being done here and to bridge the gap of change between myself and the new permanent Superintendent.  

During the nearly two months that I have been on the Outer Banks, I have had the privilege and opportunity to meet members of  the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association and discuss our shared goal of protecting and preserving this special place and enhancing access, so that visitors and residents can better enjoy this inspiring resource.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, NCBBA held an Operation Beach Respect event and invited seashore staff to participate.  Several employees assisted with the clean-up and greatly enjoyed the opportunity to work with NCBBA members and share in the barbecue afterwards.  I want to thank you for including our staff is this wonderful program and allowing them the opportunity to work with a partner who shares a common interest in keeping our beaches pristine.  I would also like to extend a huge "thank you" to all your members who participated in the clean-up!

In past articles, we have shared with your members some of the exciting and progressive natural resource-related plans and beach-access projects we have in the works.  I wanted to provide an update as to where we are with some of these projects and where we hope to be in the near future.  I know that your members have a passion and appreciation for the Seashore and are very interested in how we manage and protect this dynamic, ever-changing place.


In March 2012, as a secondary planning effort to the ORV Management Plan, an environmental assessment was conducted to evaluate the impacts for potential developed areas within the seashore to increase public access to the beaches.  

The proposed developments will  facilitate visitor access along the seashore, provide a variety of visitor use experiences, provide a satisfying visitor experience throughout the Seashore for all visitors consistent with the purpose for which the seashore was established, ensure that future and current roads, ORV ramps, foot trails, boardwalks, and parking areas promote the safety of all visitors, minimize conflicts between different types of recreation users, and protect the seashore’s natural, cultural, scenic, and aesthetic values.

Just in time for the fall fishing season, newly constructed Ramp 25 opened to the public on Sept. 11, becoming the first completed project under the ORV Management Plan.  The next phase of this project will be the installation of a parking area, which has been funded and a contract has been awarded, though a start date for this project has not been set at this time.

The second major project that will be initiated will be Ramp 32, which will include a foot path and a 10-car parking lot.  The Ramp 32 project has also been funded and a contract has been awarded, though no official start date for the work has been set at this time.


North Carolina State University and U.S. Geological Survey researchers conducted a study to assess the effects of predator and vehicle management practices on breeding American oystercatchers at the seashore during the 2014 breeding season.  The researchers are reviewing and processing the 10,000 hours of video and heart rate recordings that they collected during the field season.
“Turtle Sense” (Phase 2) is still underway with nine turtle nests with sensors still incubating.  To date, 19 sensors and 14 communication towers have been installed in the field.  Although the data collected is limited, the preliminary results look promising for the sensors' ability to predict hatching and emergence.
The seashore has finalized an agreement with Virginia Tech to conduct piping plover research at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  The objective of the agreement will be to aid the National Park Service in evaluating several of the adaptive management initiatives outlined in the Off-road Vehicle Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement.  The study is scheduled to start during the 2015 breeding season.  A graduate student has already been selected for the study and is planning a site visit soon.

In closing, I want to express my appreciation for the opportunity to be able to share with you the work that is going on at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  To be able to keep your members apprised of our accomplishments and future plans is something that I truly feel is important.  I also want to thank the members of NCBBA for making me feel welcome to the Outer Banks and ensuring a smooth transition between my time here and the new superintendent.  

My goal is to ensure that the great work that has been going on and the relationship we have built with each other continues in the interim.  I have truly enjoyed the beauty of this wonderful place and challenges associated with preserving and protecting the seashore for visitors -- not only for today but for generations to come.  

Though fall is officially here and the weather is cooling for the season, I hope that each of you is able to get out there and enjoy the seashore as I know I will during the remainder of my time here.  On behalf of not only the National Park Service but Cape Hatteras National Seashore, I hope everyone enjoys the wonders of fall and great fishing.

(Kym Hall is acting superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This article is reprinted with permission from the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association September 2014 newsletter.)


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