First, read over the NPS Annual Reports concerning species management:
Done? Good. Now, look at the NPS closure maps:
The first myth is that there are beaches open to ORV traffic. There are NONE permanently open. Any of the so called open beaches can be closed by the NPS at any time under the auspices of "Resource Protection".
But first, let me regress.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Recreational Area was established by CONGRESS under LAW. The name was changed ADMINISTRATIVELY by NPS to Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Under the law, as passed by CONGRESS, the primary emphasis in a Recreational Area is recreation, with resource protection as a secondary consideration. Did Congress change the LAW? Nope, NPS just changed the name administratively and applied a whole new set of regulations. Regulations, mind you, not Law. Congress passes laws, then the Bureaucrats fill up the Code of Federal Regulations with their interpretation of the law.
Back to the map and species management report.
NPS has closed the beach to ORV's from Ramp 34 to Ramp 32.5 Yes I know there is no Ramp 32.5, but NPS says they will build one. Has NEPA been done? Have funds been designated? HA! Maybe we should start a pool to bet on when this will happen. (I'll take 2018, but then, I've always been an optimist).
Now lets look at the beach from Ramp 34 to notional Ramp 32.5 to Ramp 30.
Ramp 34-32.5. Closed to ORV traffic. Nice wide stable beach. NPS report doesn't list any plovers as having fledged between 30-32.5-34.
Ramp 32.5-30. Narrower beach, softer sand, subject to erosion, littered with chunks of asphalt from the original roadbed of Rt. 12 which was eroded away by storm action. Those ORV's are chewing up the beach! Close it!
It's interesting to look at aerial photos of the Banks, and all the "zig-zags" the road takes. The prime example is the S Curves north of Rodanthe, but they're everywhere. Originally, when Rt. 12 was paved in the 1950's, these roads were relatively straight, except for major Island bends. Look especially at the site on Pea Island where Hurricane Irene cut the new inlet. The maintenance building was undermined even before the Hurricane. This isn't a new problem. But then again, Pea Island is a National Wildlife Refuge and no ORV's allowed. I don't have any problems with that, or the designation, because that's what Congress said, but turtle watcher friends of mine tell me that there are often more tire tracks on the beach there than there on CHNSRA because of the turtle patrols, volunteers standing watch over the nests waiting for hatchlings, etc. But since those folks "care" as opposed to ORV users, it obviously doesn't affect the beaches or the birds.
"Seasonally Open" beaches in front of Avon? When I drove from Ramp 38 to Ramp 34 a couple of months ago, there was nearly a dune breach about a half mile south of the Pier. There was a 6' sand "cliff" within 15' of the dunes, with the waves lapping at the bottom. Luckily, the tide was low enough that I could pass on the ocean side. Wouldn't have risked my truck above it. Better close the beach again.
South Beach? A beautiful beach for visitors to drive on. Wide, and hard as concrete, water generally warmer than north of the Point, with gentle wave action; an ideal place for the kiddies to swim. According to the NPS report, there were ZERO, ZIP, NEGITS, NONE, NADA plovers fledged along that stretch of beach in 2011. Good thing they closed it to protect the ones who probably won't fledge there next year. Of course, we can drive the new Interdunal Road, if it's ever built, and walk over.
Oops, careless of me. I was just checking my references, and the latest "official" map doesn't show an Interdunal Road, unlike the two week old "official" map that had it, along with Ramp 47.5 and Ramp 32.5 But a lot can change in two weeks....
Closure at Hatteras Inlet? Oh yeah! We should be ashamed of what we've done! Of course every Hurricane, Noreaster, gentle breeze, boat wake, etc. that comes along chops another 100' off the Island, and all the nests along with it. Compare the photo of 1998 with 2012. We've come a long way. And of course the NPS statistics show zero chicks fledged along that stretch of beach too......
(To Be Continued)