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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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Big beach closures, fees for beach driving, new tolls on ferries – where will it end?

Friday 11 March 2011 at 6:45 pm Between your beach closures and proposed ferry fees, why don't you just hang a sign that says, “Tourists or visitors not welcome here!”

You have allowed your treasured seashore to be turned into a wildlife refuge where only birds are welcome, other animals trapped or shot and killed, and humans not allowed. Shame on you! It is a crime against humanity what has been allowed to take place on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands. Shame on you again for not fighting for your treasured seashore that people have enjoyed for decades! The once thriving islands have turned into ghost towns because of the lack of visitors. You have additionally alienated the physically challenged from areas of your beaches, as well as older folks. Shame on you again. I wonder what tax base the birds will create because shortly that is all that will remain!

The ferry fee issue is just the tip of the iceberg for you folks, and you deserve every problem you have allowed to happen. Shame on you. Thinking of what you have allowed to transpire makes me sick to my stomach! We will be taking our treasured, hard-earned vacation budget and spending it in a more tourist-friendly atmosphere!

--Island Free Press reader from Fredericksburg, Va.

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Piping plover chicks move around, but not nearly 1,000 meters

Friday 04 March 2011 at 10:21 am

On Thursday, April 7, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle will preside over another status conference on the consent decree that settled a lawsuit against the National Park Service by environmental groups.

As part of that consent decree the Park Service must issue annual reports to the courts and all the parties to the lawsuit on the status of protected species and the effort to finalize an off-road vehicle plan at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The reports are due by Jan. 31.

Each year since the 2008 consent decree, Boyle has summoned the parties to the court to discuss the reports and be updated on the ORV rulemaking process.

So we assume that is what he wants to hear about next month in Raleigh.

If his past conferences are any indication, Boyle will have a pleasant chat with Derb Carter, attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.  He might ask seashore Superintendent Mike Murray some questions.  In the past, he has liked to ask about law enforcement and citations and dwelled on problems at Bodie Island spit.

He may declare – as SELC has—the consent decree a great success at saving nesting birds and turtles, even though Murray has said repeatedly that one – or even two seasons do not necessarily indicate a trend.

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Clean up the clutter on Highway 12 by enforcing the sign laws….WITH A READER POLL

Thursday 24 February 2011 at 3:49 pm

Dare County has had a zoning ordinance governing signs at commercial establishments since 1975.

That was back when there were many fewer businesses on Hatteras Island than there are today and almost all of them were located along Highway 12.

As time passed, businesses proliferated and began to open on the roads off the highway. Signs also multiplied – with businesses that broke the rules with more than one sign at a business, off-premises signs, and such attention getting devices as sandwich boards, magnetic signs, flags, and pennants.

Along with this explosive growth in businesses came an explosion in the clutter along the island’s only main road, Highway 12.

During those years, the sign ordinance was seldom enforced or spottily enforced and, in fact, many businesses got permits for non-conforming signs that violated the regulations.

Many people, including county officials, felt the highway was becoming cluttered and junky, not what visitors wanted to see when they come to the pristine and naturally beautiful seashore.

In 2001, the county Planning Department, with the backing of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, began a “beautification” campaign on Hatteras and began an effort to start enforcing the sign regulations already in place.

After doing an “inventory” of signs, the department sent notices to more than 90 businesses that were not in compliance.

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