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Hi, and welcome to my "Editor's Blog"! In this space I'll be attempting to keep our readers informed on fast-breaking news and issues affecting our islands. Visit often. There's a lot going on!

Enjoy the Island Free Press and, even more importantly, enjoy our wonderful barrier island!!!

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Paul Gustavson (The Park Service …): I put the folks that leave their gear on the beach overnight in the same class as the renters that so…
morgan (The Park Service …): I agree 100%. You should not leave your stuff on the beach. Also I see too many people climbing on th…
Moonrise (The Park Service …): Even though I’m not a big fan of more NPS rules, this is a keeper. More and more stuff is being left …
Liz Browning Fox (The Park Service …): As regulations go, this would be a good one, because it can help protect other beach-goers and critte…
erica (An opportunity fo…): The Ocean Center, while still young, is extremely impressive! The exhibits are informative and easy t…
Cait (Waterfall Park: …): Not going to lie, I actually love seeing it. I’m staying up in Salvo over my birthday and Thanksgivi…

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The Park Service wants to hear from you on a proposed new regulation

Friday 21 November 2014 at 4:52 pm

National Park Service officials want to hear from you about a new regulation they are proposing that would prohibit leaving personal items overnight on the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The draft of the regulation would prohibit unattended property -- such as tents, canopies, umbrellas, awnings, chairs, and such sports items as volleyball nets -- on the ocean beaches between sunset and sunrise daily.

It would also require that all holes dug on the beach be filled in before beachgoers leave the area.

The reason for the regulation is that equipment left on the beach after dark and holes not filled in are not only public safety issues, but also pose a hazard to protected sea turtles.

The proliferation of tents, awnings, chairs and other items left on the beach seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon. Perhaps the equipment is more readily available and more affordable than before.

But for whatever reason, you can go to the beach any summer day and see it lined with the tents and canopies, some tied together to make large encampments. Many groups set up makeshift volleyball courts and such things as pits for horseshoes. They might set up grills and tables for serving food.

And that's all well and good -- at least during daylight hours.

Most of these groups take all their beach "stuff" with them when they leave at the end of the day, but an increasing number do not.  They leave it set up on the beach for the duration of their week's vacation.

And after dark, these items become safety hazards for emergency personnel and for pedestrians.

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An opportunity for Hatteras village

Friday 14 November 2014 at 5:52 pm

Three years ago this month, in an article in the Island Free Press, Eric Kaplan announced his plans for the Hatteras Island Ocean Center.

It was a grand plan that included not only an ocean pier and pier house but also such things as an event venue, a restaurant, shops, a playground, parking, a beach access with bathhouse, and education components, including classes and exhibits.

He envisioned that locals and visitors would come together at the Ocean Center for fishing, swimming, kiteboarding, windsurfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, bird watching, live music, and learning about the marine environment, island history, wildlife, and commercial fishing.

And he also believed that the economy of southern Hatteras Island, which has struggled since Hurricane Isabel in 2003, badly needed a shot in the arm. What Hatteras village needed, he said, was a nine-month economy instead of a three-month economy.

At this point, it should be noted that Kaplan also said he was not launching the Ocean Center project to make money -- at least not for himself. He envisioned Hatteras business owners profiting from whatever retail or rental opportunities that became available.

He created a non-profit, 501(c) 3 with its own board to run the center. He bought two pieces of property -- one on the oceanside and one on the soundside of Highway 12 in Hatteras village. Later, he bought another property with retail buildings on it on the soundside of the road, and then received a donation of some land next to the marsh.

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Buxton beach restoration: Still not soon enough for some

Friday 07 November 2014 at 5:12 pm

A small but vocal group of islanders gathered at the Shipwreck Grill in Buxton on Monday to continue their campaign to get the beach on the northern edge of the village nourished with sand now -- not in the summer of 2016.

About 20 people attended the meeting, organized by Carol Dawson, a Buxton resident and owner of several properties in an area threatened now in even minor weather events by the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.

Just the day before the meeting, Dawson and some friends and family were working to get piles of sand left by ocean overwash during a weekend northeaster removed from the parking lots of the businesses.   

Even as the meeting started, there were puddles of saltwater in the restaurant parking lot, and N.C. Department of Transportation bulldozers and smaller pieces of privately owned equipment worked to move sand.

Owners of homes and businesses in north Buxton have been fighting back the ocean with increasing regularity, especially this fall.

It's obvious by now that they are fed up, overwhelmed, and increasingly anxious about their future.

Warren Judge, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, and Kym Hall, acting superintendent of the National Park Service's Outer Banks Group also attended the meeting.

Both officials got an earful from the people in the room.

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