As the federal government shutdown affects the cleanliness and responsible use of National Parks throughout the country, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) is apparently not immune to spates of vandalism or park violations.
A January 17 social media post by the Outer Banks Preservation Society (OBPA) outlined some of these recent violations, and called on the public at large to continue using the park in a safe, clean, and responsible manner.
“It’s a sad day when I get a request from NPS to write a post like this,” stated the OBPA.
“…It is not acceptable to tear up NPS signage. It is not acceptable to create a situation where the remaining NPS personnel are forced to clean up human waste outside of the toilet facilities. It is not acceptable to drive through vehicle free areas and do doughnuts in the sand.”
“What is acceptable is that people realize that this shutdown is not the fault of NPS and to take care of this resource as we have done for years,” stated the OBPA.
In fact, a number of residents have recently reported tire tracks in areas of the National Seashore which are closed to vehicles, specifically in the South Beach area just south of Cape Point.
Furloughed CHNS Superintendent told the Charlotte Observer in an email that the vandalism and violations have not “risen to a level that has caused us to close visitor access areas,” however, the OBPA noted in their statement that access is not a guarantee during the shutdown, which does not have an end date currently in sight.
“The Seashore is open at the superintendent’s discretion only,” stated the OBPA. “Let’s not lose access because of stupid behavior.”
On a brighter note, local organizations, such as the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA), have stepped in during the shutdown to replace trash bags, and help clean and maintain the beaches and / or visitor facilities within the park. The OBPA has also reminded social media users of their ongoing “Pack it in, Pack it Out” campaign with the National Park Service, which urges beachgoers to remove all trash from the beach – even if it isn’t their own.
Per Hallac, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore had 90 employees working when the government shut down. On any given day, 7-10 staff are working intermittently, and all other staff have been furloughed.
January 18 marks the 28th day of the shutdown, making it the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.