Monday, February 7, 2011

ORV Access on the Outer Banks

This is an article I've shied away from for quite a while , but today I'm going to get it out on the table. ORV access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore is under attack by environmental groups. This is one of the traditional uses of the beach on the OBX , and today I want to discuss a few of the arguments and points of contention that are being discussed and fought over in the courts.

First , a disclaimer : I don't have anything personal against any of the groups I plan to discuss today. I'm sure they have done good deeds in a few places around the country. That said , they have waged a war against the people and fishermen of the Outer Banks based on (my opinion) unsound science and misguided attempts to preserve species that have questionable chances for survival on the beach , with or without ORV use.

I think it's best to put a break here so I don't unintentionally offend anyone. If you care to read what I have to say on this subject , click the " Read More " link below. If you don't want to see the Audubon Society , the NPS and the SELC discussed in unfavorable terms , browse through some of our older articles or come back later for more fishing related articles. I do hope you'll click through and read what has happened to the wonderful people of the OBX. They need our help!

Thanks for clicking through to read the rest. This particular issue is very politically charged , and I don't want to drive readers away if they happen to be environmentalists. I support protecting endangered species , but not at the expense of destroying communities. This has gone too far!

The plight of the people of Hatteras is best summed up by the following two videos , I'll share my opinion and some links after the vids. If you love to surf fish , these are a must see.

Not very nice is it?

To me , it's always seemed that the Audubon Society wants to drive everyone away from the beach except for themselves and their bird watching buddies. Over the years , a few fishermen doing things they shouldn't have been doing have given environmental groups ammunition to fight the ORV crowd with.

It will always be my opinion that the fishermen who travel the beaches on the OBX are the true stewards of the shoreline. ORV users will often pick up others' trash , remove line and plastic bags that could endanger birds and other wildlife , and are often the first to report injured animals and turtle nests. I've personally untangled quite a few seagulls from plastic that would have otherwise killed them. There have been cases of boaters in trouble near the inlets that were first reported by surf fishermen. You would think ORV users would be given at least a little respect , but this isn't the case.

ORV users ( Surf Fishermen , mainly) are instead portrayed as being totally reckless on the beach with no concern for the safety of themselves or others and a total disregard for all living things. We're portrayed as vandals who sabotage the NPS attempts to close areas for nesting shorebirds. In most cases this couldn't be further from the truth , but as they say one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. I've often questioned some of the vandalism claims because vandalism results in expansion of the closures. Certainly a supporter of beach closures would benefit from this , while a fisherman wouldn't want to see more beach closed.

So where am I going with all of this? Anyone who loves to fish needs to fight back before we are pushed off of the beach entirely. We've already lost a lot of it due to the latest round of legal maneuvering by Audubon and the SELC. If you watched the videos above , you saw how it has impacted the economic viability of the residents.

Lawmakers from North Carolina have finally listened to the complaints and have recently tried to push legislation to preserve beach access. Read about it HERE. Contact your congressional representative and let them know that you support this legislation. When I have time , I'll try to do a post with links to email and other info about who to contact and what you can do to help.

Of course we don't have the powerful lobbying abilities of the SELC and Audubon , but we do have groups who are doing all they can to help our cause. The Outer Banks Preservation Association ( OBPA ) is one , and they have great information on their website about what you can do to help. Another is and they are also a resource for anyone who wants to help us out in this fight to preserve an Outer Banks tradition.

Another thing you can do is to support the local economy. Whenever possible , I always shop at local stores when I'm on the Outer Banks. I'd rather buy from a resident than to buy from a chain store that is only helping residents out with low paying jobs. Keep going to the beach , if we quit going because of closures the other side wins.

Thanks for reading and please support the residents of the Outer Banks in their fight to preserve a way of life. Surf fishing and ORV use predates the creation of the park and in my opinion should be included in any management plan. If you doubt me , check out this post I did in December. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore was designated in 1953.

Don't let the environmental groups push us off of the beach!


  1. It is SOOO sad what has been going on down there for the past 4 years!!! To think that such a large area's future can be determined by a single user group is beyond me. Those videos are great and are a good way of trying to put a FACE to the affected businesses. Between the hurricanes eating the beach up and the Audubon extremeists protesting I don't know what the local residents/businesses will do in the future.
    I'm sure those folks have giant ulcers from having this uncertainty hanging over their heads. Very sorry state of affairs there.

  2. Thanks for reading Captain! It is very sad and if you read enough about it , it just gets worse. The Outer Banks is on the southern edge of the plover's breeding range and the northern edge for their wintering range , so it's questionable at best as to whether or not it does any good to shut the beaches down for them. They are really a species that belongs further north during the breeding season , with the largest populations breeding in the northern US and Canada.

    This alone has made me wonder what hidden agenda Audubon and the SELC have.

  3. I fully agree with you JM. You might have guessed, no? We too often worry about saving a 3 inch fish ( or a bird) and don't worry enough about saving people's livelihoods and families and sporting traditions. Knee-jerk reactions is environmentalism's favorite tool. Another example: They totally closed the GSMNP to brook trout fishing or harvest for decades. Finally, in the early 2000's they did some research studies, opened 4 streams to harvest and 4 years later found out that - SURPRISE!- it didn't matter if the streams were open or closed - the brookie populations were the same, EVEN with harvest allowed.
    So decades of anglers were prohibited from fishing alot of water for NOTHING.

    boils my blood, and if I lived close enough to enjoy the OBX this would too. I mean it does, but you know what I mean...

  4. Thanks for your support Owl!

  5. sounds like an excuse to destroy the economy of the area, a land grab if you will. the piping plover is found furthur north and northern plains according to my field guide in the summer. so the few that breed on hattaras maybe they are an overflow?

    I think it is a weapon by the wealthy people who did the same thing to an island off south america, pushed everyone off, made it into a wildlife refuge and then allowed the rich people to build a resort there.

    I think they will do the same to hattaras, it is prime pristine area that I bet some wealthy people are coveting for themselves not to save animals. rather than give a just price for it, they are using underhanded tactics to get it on the cheap. they have declared war against hattaras, and other areas are also suffeirng the same thing.

    they found a very effective weapon enviromental concerns that most people care about and they are using the stupidity and ignorance of others to get people to support cutting their own throats. if this weapon didn't work they would use something else.



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