Fewer than 10 miles of beach on Hatteras Island are now open to off-road vehicles.
That?s fewer than 10 miles on the island?s more than 50 miles of shoreline.
And much of the beach that is closed to ORVs is also closed to pedestrians.
These are resource closures ? areas that are closed to protect nesting shorebirds and colonial waterbirds.
The northern end of Hatteras ? about 13 or so miles ? is part of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and is off limits to ORVs all year.
The beaches in front of the villages are closed to ORVs as part of the usual summer safety closures to protect pedestrians.
There is some beach still open at Ramp 30, but Ramp 34 has been closed for some time because of breeding American oystercatchers.
A few miles of beach are open at Ramp 38 south of Avon. The next ramp, 43, near Cape Point is a cul-de-sac with barely room to turn around.
Ramp 44 to Cape Point was closed (for the second time this season) on Saturday for a piping plover nest that either has hatched or is about to hatch.
A few miles are open to vehicles at Ramp 49 in Frisco and Ramp 55 at Hatteras Inlet.
And that is about it.
Many of these areas are also closed to pedestrians.
The only closure for a federally threatened species is at Ramp 44 for the plover chicks. Under the consent decree, plover chicks on the ground get a closure about the size of three aircraft carriers in all directions.
The other resource closures are for such birds as least terns and American oystercatchers, which are not federally protected and are listed only as ?species of concern? by the state of North Carolina.
So, yes, you can still drive on the beach if you visit Hatteras Island this summer ? about 9.2 miles of it, according to the calculation by Frank Folb of Frank and Fran?s tackle shop in Avon.
However, it?s only the first week of June, and the resource protection has closed more beach and more ramps than this time last year.
The resource closure at South Point on Ocracoke was also expanded at the end of the Memorial Day weekend.
This is not a good omen for visitors to the seashore this summer or for the economy on Hatteras and Ocracoke.
The birds are being well cared for under the auspices of a court-ordered consent decree that settled a lawsuit by environmental groups.
But what about the people?
Who is speaking for the people who are being denied access to public lands? Who is speaking for the islanders whose businesses are taking a beating with all the closures?
Is all this really necessary to protect birds, most of which are not endangered or threatened?
And why can?t the Park Service protect the birds and still provide an ORV and/or pedestrian route behind the closures?
That?s the way it used to be before the environmental activists got involved.