Hatteras march protests new beach access rules

By on March 20, 2012

A crowd of about 100 was on hand for the “Defend Freedom March” held in Buxton Tuesday.

The march was organized to protest beach closures, which are now a part of the National Park Service plan for managing off-road vehicle and pedestrian access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The controversy dates back to the Nixon Administration when the Department of Interior ordered all national parks with beach access to devise off-road vehicle plans.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore never did over the course of almost two decades, a situation that has caused fingers to be pointed at several players.

The issue was brought to a head four years ago during a negotiated regulatory meeting among some two-dozen “stakeholders.” In the midst of the so called “Neg-Reg” meetings, two parties — the Audubon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife –filed suit in federal court, hiring the services of the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Judge Terrence Boyle of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina issued a temporary order which significantly reduced access to the beach during the prime tourist and fishing season in the summer.

Both Dare and Hyde County officials signed on to the deal out of fear the judge would totally block access to all NPS beaches if they refused.

The “Neg-Reg” process grinded on and was never able to reach a consensus.

The Park Service entered new regulations into the Federal register on Feb. 15, 2012. The rules restrict significant portions of the beach from ORV and pedestrian use while introducing a fee of $50 a week or $120 annually for vehicles when they are able to access NPS beaches.

Park service officials state the new rules represent a fair compromise between environmental concerns and recreational users of the beaches. Local residents, business concerns and politicians claim the NPS came down heavy on the side of the environmental groups and used flawed science in determining the new access guidelines.

Today’s rally, while small, was infused with frustration over what Hatteras residents see as both a broken promise by the federal government to keep their beaches open for recreation and a threat to their livelihoods.

Unlike the northern beaches, access to most Hatteras beaches requires an ORV, and the local tourism industry is built around ORV use by beach-goers, anglers and surfers.

Kim Mosher, a Hatteras-based artist and designer, noted that while Audubon spent thousands of dollars in legal fees to close the beaches, they haven’t been present on the island since the order.

Mosher lamented the lack of compromise from a group such as Audubon, noting that the organization could have used its resources to develop university-based research groups and others to use the island as a place for study as well as to educate the public.

“How can the public learn about nature” when “access to nature is blocked”? she asked. A friend standing nearby said children will no longer be able to observe oyster skimmers and other birds working the beach.

An old timer who had been fishing the beach for over 70 years pointed out the lack of young people on weekends fishing in the surf. Now “they go to bars” for beer specials. “Before the new rules, the beaches would be filled with local young teens and young adults having a ball fishing.”

Bobby Eakes of Red Drum Tackle in Buxton questioned the science, especially since the observations and recommendations came from the U.S. Geological Survey.

“How many biologists do you think the U.S.G.S. has? I bet none.”

The marchers assembled at the Cape Point entrance and marched to the beach area down Lighthouse Road.

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Eddie Kilby

August 20, 2013 6:33 pm

Well I’m not mad at the wildlife people or the state. Whenever you have a good thing there is always that group
(Referring to certain people that drive on the beach) That
will mess up the works for everyone they are the reason
the OBX will never see another dime of mine sorry folks it been nice maybe with any luck a Hurricane will come a wash the whole thing away.
As barrier islands will do eventually in time.

B. A.

June 10, 2012 7:44 am

I believe the beaches will be safer for pedestrians. My first visit to Hatteras included a ORV wizzing by my feet as I lay sunbathing. Families will feel safer with their children on the beach knowing that vehicles won’t be able to do this anymore in the restricted, highly populated area.

It protects the shoreline errosion also.


June 6, 2012 3:54 pm

And i dont need to be told how to drive. The nanny state did that 30 years ago.


June 6, 2012 3:07 pm

I am from Maryland and have been coming down for almost 25 years. It is/was my favorite place on the planet. Love the way beach users clean up behind themselves and treat the beach like they would their own property.

This will be my last year coming down there if the permit process turns into a typical governmental process (DMV like). I get one vacation a year that i save up for and generally spend my entire vacation budget in the Outer Banks (avon and Buxton. I vacation with anywhere from 30 to 60 family and friends – and we all feel the same.

I/we would never do anything to damage or destroy that beach.

louise gagne

April 10, 2012 5:52 pm

too bad they don’t offer a 1 day permit. We are just here for 3 days. We won’t pay for a 1 week permit if we planned to go to the beach for only 1 day.


March 26, 2012 7:51 pm

i own a business down here on the island and have noticed a decrease in visitors in the shoulder seasons and the big holiday weekends, probably over the last 10 years. things didn’t get going down here until early july last summer and then the hurricane ended that. seems more and more people are staying north of oregon inlet or going no further south than rodanthe.


March 26, 2012 5:33 pm


Re: Population growth, I am not referring to the “local” year round population of Hatteras Island. You are correct, it has remained static if not diminished down there.

However, as mentioned, north of O Inlet, local population has increased substantially with convenient direct access to HI. As for the big houses on HI, correct they are rentals and are well populated during the tourist season. Thus, its not really the HI local population where the “growth” is, but rather HI visiting (with support by the large vacation home sub divisions down there), along with the local growth north of O Inlet.

Both HI visitor growth and OBX “city” (north of O Inlet) growth are the two prime factors, all else remaining constant over the past 20 yrs.

Though, it is sill nuts what is going on down there… imagine Memorial Day weekend coming up when people attempt to drive out at Oregon Inlet and are referred back to the trailer at Coquina beach to obtain a permit. 12 seats are available to watch a 7 minute video along with the time for the paperwork associated with obtaining the permit. People will be spending their valuable vacation weekend time waiting in line for a permit rather than enjoying the beach! I definitely would not want to be the NPS employee working the trailer that weekend!

I can almost guarantee that the vast majority of vacationers who will be coming down here have no idea about the permit. If rental houses are booked, are the rental companies informing upcoming guests of the requirements? This summer is going to be “interesting!?!”


March 25, 2012 8:23 pm

bill, people are leaving here (hatteras island) more than moving here. the population growth has been north of oregon inlet. check out our two schools and you will see the student population has decreased.

those big houses you speak of are not local owned.

Joshua Harden

March 24, 2012 10:45 pm

These are the same cheap azzh***s that compained when they started the saltwater fishing licenses.Time to pay to play.


March 23, 2012 2:42 pm

Additionally, note, I am with you Croatanard in that I am against the closures and ORV restrictions, but unfortunately unless the population and infrastructure supporting Dare County diminishes, we will not see things return to “the way they were…”

Two snowballs are now rolling…one which is population growth, and the second is the closure/restrictions initiative. I am almost certain they both complement each other, and both will not slow down.


March 23, 2012 2:06 pm


Are you referring to my comment on population increase on the OBX?

If so, it is simple fact. Simply look around you while standing in Avon, Frisco, or Hatteras Village. Were all those big beach houses and vacation sub divisions there 15 or 20 years ago? Is 158 and 64 not now high speed freeways connecting major metro areas to the OBX? Were those highways here 20 years ago? When was the Outer Banks Hospital built? Did that facility not usher in the ability to develop more real estate for housing? All in all, its simple FACT, that there are more people here with easier access and the facilities to support them.

What has not changed…the size of Hatteras National Seashore, the NPS staff which support it, and the nesting birds and turtles that share the space.

I rest my case…


March 23, 2012 7:58 am

village idiot……correct……that’s exactly what the plover should do

Village Idiot

March 22, 2012 9:36 pm



March 22, 2012 8:15 pm

bilgee……it is not an ORV issue. it’s about public access to public lands.

one of the folks down here who is for limited access was complaining after the NPS closed down access to cape point in the past, but opened up a postage stamp size piece of beach near the fish cleaning tables, because it was HIS walking beach.

i’d venture that you would not be happy if your favorite fishing beach you walk to is suddenly a ‘no foot print’ zone. where will you leave your tackle box? your beverage?


March 22, 2012 12:16 pm

Freedom being curtailed? Freedom to drive up and down the beach in a vehicle? What about my “freedom” to walk a public beach without having to constantly step thru tire tracks, listen to vehicles driving by with engines revving in low gear, or smell exhaust fumes? While I’m not a Hatteras resident, I have a house on a beach where driving the beach is permitted at certain times of the years. I’m an avid surf fisherman, and I walk — when the trucks are allowed, my fishing “freedom” takes a nosedive. Still, Hatteras beaches belong to me too ’cause I’m a taxpayer and they’re a national resource, not a local one. There are limitations/constraints all around us — that’s part of life in our society. Driver’s licenses, auto registration, driver’s insurance, building codes, fishing and hunting licenses, etc. — like them or not, they’re what we have to abide by for the common good. Else, we would have anarchy. So as a number of folks in this string and others have commented, face the changing times folks, adapt, and work to take advantage of the changes. The draw of the beach will continue to be there, tourists will still come, fish will still be there — and just perhaps, the area will be an overall better place to visit. Maybe less friendly to vehicles, but more friendly to those who would rather not have them.


March 22, 2012 11:44 am

To “Junkman”,

I believe your post says it all in a nutshell. This is such a thinly veiled attempt to turn the OB into a swank new “hotspot” for the upper class. What is with people like you who wish to do away with any and all semblance of the beautiful, charming characteristics of this country, in particular the south? As though the gap between the upper crust and the middle class is not yawning wide enough to swallow the galaxy, people will not stop until you have taken it all, will they? Instead of seeing something that appeals to you and SHARING that, you want to take it ALL because money talks. Once you’ve “taken” it, you then wish to “change” it.

Let me see if I can help you understand. Everyone rushes to North Carolina and the south for the fantastic, unique “ways” of NC and of the south. They all want to move here now….the just LOVE the southern niceness and the relaxed, easy way of life. The little “Cracker Barrel” type establishments are so “quaint”…so “southern”! The only problem with that is that they want to change it to what they had before…don’t they? So everyone flocks to the great Outer Banks, something of America that is still left…the lovely old fishing villages, the down home people, the “tennis shoe” restaurants…basically the relaxed way of life. They flock to it and then change it into what THEY want it to be…just another cookie cutter place like a million others in this country…..elegant food, no pets, be nasty to your neighbor who steps on your grass….I think you understand, right?

Why can’t people just enjoy things as they are without destroying the very things that made you love them? Believe me, there are plenty of boring, dull “ecotouristy, wine sipping, look cool and suave, be seen” places in this country. BORING, DULL, BEEN THERE DONE THAT kind of places. It’s so ironic that people would be attracted to our mountains and our beaches because they are what they are, and then set about attempting to change them into something that they wanted to escape from in the first place.

I would think that all of the many homeowners at the Outer Banks would be scurrying to sell their properties if they rent. Anything and everything that is appealing about the Outer Banks is rapidly being squished and remolded into “everyplace USA”. What will be left is an unfriendly, cold, unoriginal blah beach. It won’t be long before no one can afford to rent the average home there for a vacation, if anyone still does. I know we quit coming several years ago.

What you seem to want is basically a museum where we can view what the earth used to be like, instead of actually enjoying what it is. You know…sip on your wine, all the while proclaiming what a wine enthusiast you are ane enjoying the sunset while staring into the sound at your nice, expensive boat….and don’t forget to bring your friends so they will be impressed! You wish to be able to brag to your friends that you’ve “found” this amazing, beautiful beach and have “picked up just a little beach house with a few bedrooms”, and would love to have them on the week of June 2nd (but it can’t be June 12th week because the Habernashys will be visiting). While you entertain with pride each of your sets of friends, you will take them on the “ecotour” of the little museums that have sprung up. They can view the beach from your windows high over the ocean and lay on the sand on the private area of beach reserved just for you because you own that piece of land. Sip wine by the sunset and don’t forget to encourage them to bring their dog but keep it on a leash. Pets are allowed, but only on the privately owned beach areas, and you are in luck, since you own your own portion of the beach!

What most people know is that if this was REALLY about the birds and the turtles, a much BETTER way to have handled the issue would have been to ask nicely that the humans play nice. But then, it’s not really ABOUT piping plovers, terns, or turtles…is it?


March 22, 2012 10:01 am

remark 249 …

Did you know that …

Congress mandated that this area be set aside for recreational use in 1937 and added the term recreational area in 1940 stating that the area be set aside and dedicated for the “benefit and enjoyment” of the American people. (Its hard to enjoy a place you cant visit)


March 22, 2012 9:57 am

Other opinions posted on petition to representatives at the U.S. Senate from people who know Hatteras situation. These say it all. Go to http://www.change.org/petitions/the-u-s-senate-remove-the-orv-rule-and-provide-free-and-open-access

Posted by Tracy

“I have been traveling to Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands for over 20 years. My husband and I don’t come to fish we are avid bird watchers and kayakers. I’ve never seen cleaner beaches and more crystal clear sound waters any where. The locals whom have been lucky to call this place home, some for generations have preserved and protected this area this is their home and livelihood. Maybe someone should read up on the history of island life and these people. These islands are a nature lovers, bird lovers , dream ! There should be no closed beaches or fees for use of ” THEIR LAND”, our land , we do live in the USA “right”?

Posted by Anita

“This has been my home for 13 years and our island as little as it is, is dying. Nobody will hear us because we are such a small community. Businesses, livelihoods are being destroyed because NO ONE CAREs in WASHINGTON DC as to what happens to the people here. This island belonged to the people before giving it to Park Service. There was an agreement with the locals many many years ago when this took place that the land would always remain open. People will be always able to drive out to one of the BEST fishing holes on the EAST COAST. CAPE POINT. The argument about birds and turtles is mute. The people who live here live in harmony with nature. Understand the importance of respecting our beaches. And, we would be the first on the attack of someone who misused this privilege. Educating the visitors as to why they need to stay off the dunes, or why the area has been temporarily closed for the turtles. NO ONE HEARS US…WHY??? I support open and free access to all of Hatteras Island and so should my representatives. That was why you were place in the position, to speak for the people. ….”


March 22, 2012 9:38 am

It makes no sense!

It makes me sick!

The absolutely ridiculous nature of this travesty is beyond comprehesion for those of us who have followed this crazy situation for the last several years now. The people speak, they March, they quietly protest and share their opinions, they sign petitions, they attend public hearings and use their voices, the locals loose their jobs, their properties, their family units as they know them, the vacation property owners also worry about their investments at Hatteras and whether visitors will dwindle, the commissioners and other leading citizens have joined committees to cooperate … to no avail at making their voices heard, other wildlife and even pets are trapped and killed. And for what? A few nesting birds that MIGHT live?

Where oh where is the common sense of it all? It makes no sense. It is unstoppable it seems. Money is king and Audubon and Defenders of Wildlife have deep pockets and they friggin’ don’t give a care about human life. That island and the locals are precious and living in a precarious place as it is.

It makes no sense!

It makes me sick!

Pray for the people of Hatteras Island … it may be the only thing more powerful that money. Pray that a human heart who has decision making authority might change the course of the future there.


March 21, 2012 9:52 pm

junkman…..head on down and try to make a living off trendy eco-tourism. you could organize nature walks out in the mosquito infested campground near cape point for starters. the people with the bucks $$$ aren’t coming here, they are heading to nags head and the northern beaches up near duck.

it’s all about public access to public lands. period. not feral cats, not gas guzzlers, not redneck beer drinkers.

remark249….the NPS has not been a friend to the people who live down here. they contribute nothing to the communities that surround them.

i guess you haven’t made the trek by foot out to cape point from the fish cleaning tables, in the water so as to not leave a footprint. the safest beach, in the cove behind the campground, is closed for good…..no driving, no walking.

kdh gal……..you’ve obviously not seen what a late spring nor’easter does to the beaches down here. it wipes them clean. we haven’t had one in a few years so we’re well over due.

all…….some day access to your favorite (fill in the blank) may come to an end. then how will you feel?

James Jackson

March 21, 2012 8:02 pm

So why are the buisnessess and people that are loosing money because of the limiting of access to the beach not showing the amount of their losses and banning together to sue the Audubon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife to get access back or be compensated for thier loss. Enough people get enough money together and the right lawers they could bring these groups to their knees. If everyone coming to the beach would give that would be a big pile of money.


March 21, 2012 2:53 pm

KDHgal, junkman, Bill, remark249:

Get educated with the facts. Your uninformed comments = zero credibility on this subject.


March 21, 2012 2:02 pm

I wish I had known about this to participate, beach closures on what is supposed to be a recreational seashore.


March 21, 2012 1:52 pm

@Carol….the hurricanes & nor’easters normally happen at times when the birds are not in the midst of trying to raise their future generations.
@ Bill and junkman….very good points. The majority of people have no knowledge of and/or are apathetic toward wildlife, eco-systems and their importance in the balance of life on earth. Maybe if humans had more respect for and understanding of wildlife, there would be no need for such restrictions.
From what I saw on WTKR news, the Park Service is trying to allow some activity in the spots with restricted access whereas there was NO access before.


March 21, 2012 11:53 am

When will these people realize that the National Park Service is the best friend that Hatteras Island ever had? If not the for National Seashore those beaches would have been sold off and privatized years ago just like Rodanthe, Nags Head etc. Furthermore whining that the beaches are CLOSED is hogwash. I can walk out there anytime I want to. Even with restricted enclosures there is always access. Yes, maybe “promises” were made years ago but that doesn’t mean that you are being victimized or “terrorized” now that times have changed. It is only the mindset that people have to be able to drive everywhere that has caused this mess.


March 21, 2012 10:22 am

The times are changing and have been for quite a while. I wish the people in Hatteras could come to this realization and make an effort to change. Instead of whining about losing fat cats in gas guzzlers driving the beach, how about the opportunity for eco-tourism, nature study, adventure outings for kids, etc, etc. This is a unique region within an easy drive of major metro areas. These people eat, drink and spend money too. Maybe its chardonnay instead of Bud Light, but who cares. Get creative. Look at the opportunity and quit living in the past.


March 21, 2012 7:54 am

I agree Carol.

Happy Barracuda

March 21, 2012 7:42 am

The U.S. Government has not made much sense for quite a while. So why be shocked at what they waste our taxes on.

If the turtles (Green, Kemp-Ridley, Leatherback, or Loggerhead) had razor-sharp beaks and were biting humans feet off, I do not think we would be trying to save them.

We always focus on protecting the cute non-threatening species…………….


March 21, 2012 12:00 am

Is there a reason that visitor/population expansion is not discussed as the underlying cause? All arguments focus on the “environmentalists” and birds, but the only real factor that has changed over the past 20 years here is holistic support for larger local and visitor population through improvements in infrastructure allowing easy access to the Outer Banks, and the rental housing boom to support the influx of people.

Bottom line, its not the birds, but rather the large population growth (across entire US east coast) and the inability of the NPS to satisfactorily manage the park. Basically, the OBX is/was one of the last holdouts of Federal park land which was completely open to unrestricted public regulation. Now, that has ended, and the only parts of the country where you will find open fully accessible land is out west in BLM managed areas.

KDH Rezident Evil

March 20, 2012 11:35 pm

Occupy Hatteras?

Oh wait, the Occupy movement is full of unemployed hippies and professional college students looking for handouts who use hyperbole and name calling to inflame passions in order to correct a perceived injustice. These are just upstanding citizens using their right to assemble and protest using hyperbole and name calling to inflame passions in order to correct a perceived injustice.

I’m really curious about what the special interest groups personally gain from these beach closures. Its a weak argument. I don’t think there’s an environmental group in the US that has “destroy America” as one of their stated goals. They’re doing what they think is right. I won’t say that they are right, I frankly don’t know enough about the subject. But compare the Audubon Society to, say, Big Oil, or the banking industry, hog farmers, etc. Changing laws to allow drilling, fracking, polluting, etc. clearly benefits their bottom line and is what motivates them to push for changes.

So, maybe if the Hatteras protest element would operate from the perspective that they’re having a difference of opinion with groups that really aren’t “evil” but merely doing what they think best, it would help them have a more successful dialog and favorable outcomes.

Stan Clough

March 20, 2012 11:30 pm

Oops says,
definitely does not live here and is out of touch with reality. We do not need the environmental terriorists here on our outer banks ! We have enough problems with the Park Service and Fish and wildlife people. Go find a tree to save or , here is a good one, save the mosquitoe !Oops, you and your scientists need to find another cause to fund your egoes and move on ! We are all over it !!!

The best and brightest ! really ? get over yourself and quit destroying the lives of people that live on Hatteras Island !!!Enough of government jobs for people that cause problems and have nothing to offer and benifit nothing but themselves.

We do not need your “scientists” here. We are intelligent people and can somehow live without you.

We all realize that these Islands are unique but we have the knowledge and technology to protect our life here if you get out of the way ! We respect nature and want to be stewards of all that is living here. That is the key.

A good example is that the park service hunted and killed foxes to protect piping plovers. They should be prosicuted for cruelty to animals, or something. That is WRONG!

Stan Clough

March 20, 2012 10:57 pm

wish it had been publicised more so more people would have been there. I would have gone if I had known about it.


March 20, 2012 9:35 pm

Do you really think this is about birds or turtles? We have storms and hurricanes every year that do way more damage to Eco-system than we humans could ever do. Closing parts of hatteras beaches, even to walk on, has caused complete and total economic collapse of this island’s economy. Spending millions of tax dollars policing our beaches and ” studying” the patterns of birds and bird eggs seems utterly insane. Generations of families have lost everything they have because of less than a dozen bird eggs. We eat fowl. I was born in Hatteras and remember turtles coming up out of the water to lay eggs at night, all of us would build a barrier for the turlte to protect it. These closures have made this generation hate nature and resent what it has done to their families. This is not a beach driving issue at all. Our civil liberties as Americans have been stripped away by a few special interest groups that want control. It’s really sad to see the older generation of locals watching this island being attacked. When did birds become more valuable than human lives or their livelihoods? The answer was 2008, Cape Hatteras, NC

Mike Preas

March 20, 2012 8:24 pm

It’s time to stand up to the whacko environmentalists. This is destroying the lives of residents to protect wildlife that would be respected by the visitors.

Russ Lay

March 20, 2012 8:23 pm

“Bum”: Good point. This was a “turn and burn” to cover the actual march. We will probably spend more time down on Hatteras this summer than ever before to assess the impact of the fees, the final regulations, and the impact on the area. Stay tuned and keep the suggestions coming!


March 20, 2012 5:32 pm

The new ORV rules are a fair compromise. Our beaches will be better off because of them.


March 20, 2012 5:15 pm

Bobby Eakes makes me laugh. The USGS is nothing but scientists, many of them biologists. Can I collect on your bet? http://www.usgs.gov/aboutusgs/

USGS: Who We Are

The USGS employs the best and the brightest experts who bring a range of earth and life science disciplines to bear on problems. By integrating our diverse scientific expertise, the USGS is able to understand complex natural science phenomena and provide scientific products that lead to solutions. Every day the 10,000 scientists, technicians, and support staff of the USGS are working for you in more than 400 locations throughout the United States.


March 20, 2012 4:36 pm

I don’t really think this article covers the legitimate arguments the locals have. I know there have been ton’s of other articles on this site that have.

I just don’t think calling the other side terrorists or claiming that our side believes in freedom, so theirs must hate it, are going to help our cause. It just makes us sound like yokels.

The only good point in here is by Kim Mosher, who points out that Audubon could have spent their money in better ways. They spent tons of cash to defend a couple dozen birds when that money could have been better directed at conservation elsewhere.

As for Bobby Eakes bet, I hope he didn’t really place money on it.

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