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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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owen (Cape Lookout acce…): all ya folks do is yap yap yap and no action as usual where the Hell is your Gov.???????
FKAA (Cape Lookout acce…): salvo jimmy Absolutely zero reason to expand VFAs if birds wonder out of them as long as foraging a…
Dood (Cape Lookout acce…): I don’t know salvo jimmy. Maybe we should give FKAA the benefit of the doubt on this one. After al…
salvo jimmy (Cape Lookout acce…): Sure FKAA, just until a change comes forth and of course all the birds have read the FEIS and know no…
Gerry Lebing (Taking back the n…): The Dollar General in Waves has proven to be a mega-source for light pollution. They turned their l…
FKAA (Cape Lookout acce…): Calm down folks and “un-knot” your undies. The current VFAs are also designated migratory bird feedin…

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Cape Lookout access advocates seek help from Cape Hatteras

Friday 05 December 2014 at 4:12 pm

Weary veterans of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore off-road vehicle wars are needed to share their experiences with supporters of access at Cape Lookout National Seashore, who are fighting their own battle with the Park Service over the proposed ORV plan there.

The North Carolina General Assembly has chosen to get more involved with the rulemaking at Cape Lookout than it was at Cape Hatteras, and the House of Representatives' newly formed Select Committee on the use of Off-Road Vehicles on Cape Lookout National Seashore will have a public hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 16, from 1 until 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the Roanoke Island Campus of the College of the Albemarle in Manteo.

The three-member committee was appointed in October by then Speaker of the House Thom Tillis to examine the effect of Cape Lookout's proposed ORV rule on tourism and the economy.  The chairwoman is Pat McElraft, an Emerald Island Republican, in whose district the Cape Lookout seashore is located. The other members are Reps. Chris Millis, R-Hampstead, and George Graham, D-Kinston.

McElraft said in an interview this week that she had not been following the Cape Lookout rulemaking process that carefully until Tillis asked her to take on the committee. Tillis, she said, learned about the rulemaking that is underway when several constituents came to Raleigh to talk to him about their fears about curtailed public access and impacts on the local economy if the proposed regulations become final.

She gladly took on the task and has gone to school in the Park Service's rulemaking process.

There are many similarities between Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras seashores.

Like Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout did not have a formal ORV plan, as has been required by executive orders since the mid-1970s.  And, also like Cape Hatteras, lawsuits by environmental groups forced the Park Service into formulating an off-road vehicle management plan there.

The two seashores share a barrier island terrain, with many miles of gorgeous beaches.  They both have the dual mission of providing for public access and recreation while protecting nesting shorebirds and sea turtles. And they are both popular with visitors, especially fishermen and beachcombers, though visitation at Cape Lookout is much less than at Hatteras.

But they also have some significant differences.  The slightly smaller Cape Lookout -- with 56 miles of beaches -- is much more remote.

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Tying up loose ends: Updates from Hatteras Island villages

Friday 28 November 2014 at 6:16 pm

Three of my blogs this fall were on topics that need some updating.  They all were about issues in Hatteras Island's villages -- the possibility of zoning for the tri-villages of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo, beach restoration in Buxton, and the question of whether the Hatteras Village Tax District should purchase oceanfront property.

I've done relatively short updates on these topics for this week's blog, and readers who want more information can go back and read what I wrote before -- and what the readers have commented on each of them.

ZONING IN THE TRI-VILLAGES    

An ad hoc group of residents and business owners in Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo have launched a campaign to begin exploring use-specific zoning for those villages.

In a blog on Sept. 19, I wrote a blog that updated the county's efforts to get Waterfall Park cleaned up and its initial exploration of zoning in the tri-villages.

In a Sept. 2 meeting of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, chairman Warren Judge said the county had received a letter from the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association, asking to start the planning process for use-specific zoning in the tri-villages.

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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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