Earlier this month, outdoors reporter Eric Burnley wrote a column for the Cape Gazette, which covers the Delaware Capes Region, on the good Memorial Day weekend fishing,
His column was mostly about weekend catches, but at the end of the column, there was a report that caught the eye of some folks who are advocates of more reasonable beach access at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
It seems that on May 29, Burnley attended the launch of the Delaware Bayshore Initiative.
“The Delaware Bayshore Initiative,” he wrote, “is a program that brings together local, state and federal governments along with private citizens and organizations such as Delaware Wildlands, the Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited in an effort not just to protect the delicate habitat, but to provide access to the area for fishermen, hunters and nonconsumptive users like bird watchers and kayakers.”
He got to ask the dignitaries who attended some questions.
He asked Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar about the restriction of access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Biscayne Bay in Florida and how that fit in with plans to open up more lands and waters for recreational use.
“His reply indicated he was not familiar with either of these areas, but protecting habitat had to be balanced with public access,” Burnley wrote.
The Secretary of the Interior, the boss of National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, is not familiar with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the access issues here?
I found this a rather astounding pronouncement by Salazar.
Now, I don’t believe for a minute that the Secretary has been sitting in his office reading the voluminous Cape Hatteras National Seashore Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement.
But maybe an assistant sent him a memo or some sort of briefing?
I doubt he has plowed through the various lawsuits that have been filed again him, his department, and the Park Service over the plan.
But maybe someone sent him a memo about them?
He probably doesn’t read all of the letters that have come to him about access at the seashore, but maybe he noticed the February, 2011 letter to him from three members of the North Carolina Congressional delegation.
A joint letter from U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and U.S. Sens. Richard Burr, a Republican, and Kay Hagan, a Democrat, asked him to ensure that a final ORV plan “would maximize public access to extent permissible under the law.” The three page letter was also addressed to Jacob Lew, director of the Office of Budget and Management.
Earlier this spring, Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio wrote a letter to him about access at Biscayne National Park and Cape Hatteras National Seashore – just before the U.S. House of Representative Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Federal Lands had an oversight hearing on access to parks.
I was so surprised by what Secretary Salazar had to say that I called Eric Burnley to make sure he reported his encounter correctly.
Burnley is an experienced fishing writer and angler who is very familiar with the seashore and its access problems.
And, yes, he says he got it right.
“It’s just not important to him,” Burnley said.
In fact, Burnley thinks the issue isn’t very important outside of Cape Hatteras. He’s right that the issue has not gotten much national coverage.
He is sympathetic to the problems, but said, “You are just on the losing end of a bad situation.”
So, I guess we are left to our own interpretation of Salazar’s remarks.
Is he lying? Stretching the truth a little so he doesn’t have to address any specifics?
Is he really not “familiar” with the situation at Cape Hatteras? And what does “familiar” mean to him?
I tried an Internet search to see if I could find any Salazar quotes on Cape Hatteras but could not.
Maybe some of you readers can.
And what do you think he meant when he said he was not familiar with Cape Hatteras National Seashore?
RIP CURRENT FORECAST
This week, the Island Free Press began linking to the National Weather Service’s Rip Currents Hazards page.
This rip current forecast is a relatively new product of the National Weather Service, and for our region, it is produced by the office in Newport, N.C., and issued daily.
It has a great graphic with the rip current threat for the North Carolina Coast highlighted in various colors for low, moderate, and high.
It also has tips for identifying rip currents, safety tips, and tells you exactly what to do if you are caught in a rip.
Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves.
Many people worry about such things as shark attacks when they come to the beach, but they sometimes don’t pay attention to the biggest killer of swimmers here at the seashore – drowning. And most of the drowning deaths here involve rip currents.
Click on the yellow tab at the top of the Front page on the right side before you go to the beach.
Learn about rip currents and how to protect yourself and your family and friends.
For more information about rip currents and a personal story of one family’s heartbreak over a drowning on Hatteras and their response, go to http://islandfreepress.org/2008Archives/06.20.2008OceanSafety.html
CAPE HATTERAS IS THIRD IN TOP FISHING TOWN CONTEST
Cape Hatteras has placed third in the World Fishing Network’s 2012 contest to name the Ultimate Beach Town.
First place winner was Olcott Beach, N.Y., and second place went to Waddington, N.Y.
For placing third, WFN will make a $2,500 community donation.
Read more about the contest and what folks said about Cape Hatteras at http://www.worldfishingnetwork.com/uft/winners.php