By JOY CRIST
The subject for the interview on Irene Nolan’s Radio Hatteras interview show, “To the Point, on Sunday, Oct. 2, was public access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore — for off-road vehicles and pedestrians.
The guests were David Scarborough of Avon, treasurer of the Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA), and Bill Smith of Buxton, president of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA).
Both groups have been active for a long time in the effort to ensure reasonable public access to the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
OBPA has been in existence since the 1970s when the National Park Service made its first attempt to formulate an off-road vehicle rule, Scarborough said. That rule was never finalized and when the NPS revived the attempt in the late 1990s and early 2000s, OBPA was re-energized. It now has about 6,000 members from all over the United States and its motto is “Preserve and Protect, Don’t Prohibit.”
Smith said the NCBBA is now 50-plus years old and its members also work to protect beach access and seashore resources. Among other things, NCBBA conducts beach cleanups, provides scholarships to local students, and supports non-profits.
Scarborough said the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance is a project of OBPA, NCBBA, and the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club whose goal is to bring multiple organizations together to work for access. About 30 organizations have been involved.
During the interview, the two men discussed the changes that the seashore has already made to ensure access and other changes that are pending. These changes were required by legislation, passed by Congress in 2014, that the access groups were instrumental in shepherding through the lawmaking process.
They talk about their view of new buffer regulations for shorebirds and sea turtles, new ORV access projects, and pending changes to the final ORV rule — upon which the public can comment until Oct. 21.
Generally, both group representatives said they believe access has improved in the past two years, but there are changes they would like to see, especially in the upcoming changes to the final rule.
Also, they were complimentary of seashore Superintendent David Hallac — who arrived not quite two years ago, and his staff. Both Scarborough and Smith said that they believe that communications and relationships between seashore officials and the public have improved quite a bit.
“We reached out to him and he reached to us simultaneously within a month of his coming to the seashore,” Scarborough said. “We don’t always agree but he has had an open ear to listen and to do something about some of these issues.”
“I think that’s the most important thing — that some of these lines of communication have been re-established and opened back up,” Smith said. “I don’t know that we could find a better man to deal with than David Hallac. We don’t always agree, but he listens and is willing to discuss things, and that’s a breath of fresh air after the past 10 years.”
Scarborough said some people are beginning to enjoy interactions with Park Service officials.
That said, Scarborough and Smith will still push for changes for the final rule that they think would be more appropriate to ensure more reasonable public access.
More information on both groups is available on their websites, www.obpa-nc.org and www.ncbba.org. Both need the support of members to keep up their work on keeping beaches open.
To listen to the interview, which is about 40 minutes long, scroll down to the “To the Point” logo and click on the arrow.
“To the Point” is broadcast on the island’s community radio station,101.5 FM on southern Hatteras and 99.9 FM on northern Hatteras, at 5 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month. It is repeated on the second and fourth Sunday. Those who don’t live on Hatteras can listen to the show on Sundays through live streaming at www.radiohatteras.org.
MORE ABOUT RADIO HATTERAS
Radio Hatteras is Hatteras Island’s community, non-profit radio station and depends on grants, memberships, and underwriting.
It broadcasts around the clock with news — including such things as surfing and fishing reports — community announcements, music, and special programs. The station is also streamed live. To listen, go to www.radiohatteras.org.
Our community radio station also needs your support, and you can give that by purchasing a membership or by underwriting the station if you are a business or another community non-profit.
Radio Hatteras memberships are $50 for a family, $25 for an individual and $10 for a student. Mail memberships and other contributions to Radio Hatteras, P.O. Box 339, Frisco, NC 27936.
E-mail [email protected] or call (252) 995-6000 for information about underwriting opportunities.