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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A trip to Cape Point with the acting seashore superintendent

Friday 17 October 2014 at 7:00 pm

Kym Hall, acting superintendent of the National Park Service's Outer Banks Group, accepted an invitation to come down to Cape Point this morning and have a first-hand look at access issues at Cape Point.

Cape Point reopened to ORVs disappointingly late this year -- not until Aug. 26. It had been closed since April 2 for pre-nesting and then nesting shorebirds. Then, as the shorebirds were clearing out for the season, two turtle nests that were expanded as they approached their expected date of hatching cut off access until later than ever before in the nesting season.

Since the Point reopened, there have been several access issues just as the fall fishing season was getting underway. And, by all reports, the fall fishing has been really great.

The beach from Ramp 44 to Cape Point has seen serious erosion in recent months and is now very narrow -- more so than usual. The Park Service created a detour of sorts behind the dunes to help ORV drivers navigate the very narrowest area -- appropriately known as The Narrows.

However, even that was not enough to allow vehicle access during last month's very high flood tides, caused by an approaching full moon and very big swells from a low pressure far out in the north Atlantic. The beach was pretty much impassable at high tides off and on for some time.

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The War on Voting

Friday 10 October 2014 at 5:05 pm

If you haven't registered to vote in the Nov. 4 general election by the time you read this, it's too late.

Under North Carolina's new voting law, enacted in 2013, the deadline to register to vote next month was at 5 p.m. today -- Friday, Oct. 10.

Under the new law, voters cannot register on the same day they vote. This is a change from past elections.

That provision of the new state law was blocked from being enforced in this year's election by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 1. Then, it was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, Oct. 8.

Another provision of the new law that forbids votes cast by mistake in the wrong precinct from being counted was also blocked by the Appeals Court and also reinstated by the Supreme Court.

If you are now confused about what you are and are not required to do to vote this year, you would not be alone.

And if you heard Republicans talking at some point this week in various statements issued in Raleigh about the "voter ID decision" by the court, you need to know that this latest legal wrangling is not about the voter ID provision of the new state law.

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The debate about living on a barrier island

Friday 03 October 2014 at 3:54 pm

It's no secret that there are people out there who think not only that the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet should not be replaced but also that we should let Highway 12 through Pea Island fall into the ocean.

Southern Environmental Law Center and its clients, Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, who are battling in court to stop the North Carolina Department of Transportation's plan to replace the bridge feel that way.

So do many -- if not most -- coastal scientists.

And, for that matter, there are followers and admirers of these scientists and environmentalists who don't want their tax money spent so that we who live here can have access by highway to our homes and businesses.

The most-often quoted of the scientists is geologist Stanley Riggs of East Carolina University who, with his associates, wrote a book on the topic, "The Battle for North Carolina's Coast," and coined the now familiar phrase "string of pearls" to refer to the barrier islands.

Riggs says that when sea-level rise is finished with Hatteras and Ocracoke, our islands will be like "pearls" of beauty in the ocean and we can all get from pearl to pearl by ferry.

Another is Michael Orbach, professor emeritus of marine policy at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, N.C.

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