The OBPA announces the 2010 Annual Members Meeting will be held on September 25, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club. All who are able are urged to attend to hear reports on recent events and plans for the future.
Senator Burr Comments on Beach Access at Public Meeting in Manteo - May 21, 2010
N. C. Senator Richard Burr (R) visited the Outer Banks last week and spoke to about 50 people on Friday May 21, 2010 at the Dare County Government Complex in Manteo, NC. Representing the OBPA were President John Couch, Treasurer Larry Hardham, and Secretary Anne Bowers.
The Senator spent the hour speaking on local topics and taking questions about the beach closures, replacing the Bonner Bridge and outrageous rules that have strangled the local commercial fisherman.
Senator Burr preached “individual responsibility. I can’t paint you a pretty picture.” He elaborated by saying the revenue loss at local levels was putting a tremendous strain on local governments.
Commissioner Chairman Warren Judge responded with, “We could put our people back to work if we could just have access. We could do so much.”
Burr acknowledged that access was “pivotal to economic growth.”
OBPA President, John Couch, thanked Senator Burr for his help in the OBPA’s efforts to get a 30 day extension to the DEIS comment period. Laughingly, he added, “I am surprised they turned you down!”
Couch proceeded to tell Burr that the bird closures were stifling the local economy. As bad as it was, the Consent Decree had become the baseline for resource management and the policies described in the DEIS were much more restrictive. Everything at Cape Point was closed.
The OBPA president continued by asking for common sense solutions and emphasized that protecting the environment is important. But, giving 771 acres to a piping plover?
Burr agreed that the beach issue has always been a difficult thing and he was also surprised that the 30 day extension for the DEIS comment period was not granted. “This administration has gotten everything they ever wanted.”
The Senator moved on to address the problems with being in Judge Boyle’s courtroom. “It’s hit a nerve with him. It seems personal,” Burr continued. “We are working to create some leverage.” He also claimed to be desperately trying to move Senate bill S-1557 out of committee and onto the floor.
“We are not going to go away,” Couch responded, referring the people who are pro-access.
Burr continued on with other subjects. He stated that some people are rolling the roulette wheel about the Bonner Bridge. He also covered the subject of increasing the budget for dredging Oregon Inlet.
To the problems facing the local commercial fisherman, the Senator admitted that “we handled this wrong with the Bush Administration. The fisheries are trying to put an end to east coast fishing – putting it out of business. I am trying to defund this effort – it’s the only tool we have and we are going to do it.”
When the hour was up, Senator Burr finished by saying that Washington was feeling the frustration of the American people.
“We get it,” Burr concluded.
About 140 people assembled on Saturday May 8, 2010 to exercise their first amendment rights. It was a morning full of sunshine, God and country as these advocates for beach access gathered together for a rally at the Fessenden Center in Buxton.
“Rally for Beach Access” was planned by the OBPA to keep people on target for responding effectively to the National Park Service’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the outline for the future of beach access within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. The deadline for making DEIS comments was only three days away.
The morning began with a few dozen people marching through the center of Buxton carrying signs expressing personal sentiments regarding the continuing loss of beach access. Beaches are for Everyone. Stop the Insanity. Fix the Bridge. People are Animals too. Beach Closures too restrictive. Does Tradition Matter? Access for Future Generations. DEIS the Economy Killer.
The peaceful protesters were cheered on by car horns and supportive yells from the Saturday morning traffic. They walked in single file onto the baseball field at 10:00 a.m. as the music from the movie “Rocky” blared from the P.A. speakers.
This event was much different from the eight workshops conducted by the OBPA designed to educate people on the major impact points lodged between the covers of the 810 page hard-to-read DEIS. This had a mood much more like a political campaign. It was loud and it was noisy. The audience was energetic with their clapping and responses to the speakers. It was a red, white and blue event complete with patriotic music. It was America!
Speaking from a flatbed trailer that served as a make-shift stage, OBPA board member and emcee for the event, Rob Shay, instructed the crowd to remove their tops (hats) and face the American flag to say the pledge of allegiance. Bob Fox then asked for people to bow their heads as he said a prayer addressing the needs of the event.
Chairman of the Dare County Commissioners, Warren Judge, was the first of the eleven speakers. He said he felt like a Hatteras Islander in his heart though he lived on the other side of Oregon Inlet. This man left no doubt that he fully supported of the people who resided within the seashore and would fight to the bitter end to protect their right for beach access.
Allen Burrus, also a Dare County Commissioner and resident of Hatteras Village, spoke passionately about his heritage and the negative experiences that happened to his family brought by NPS policy.
Also on the list of speakers were OBPA members John Couch, Natalie Kavanagh, Larry Hardham, Wayne Mathis and Anne Bowers. Local residents Donny Bowers and Jeff “Wheat” Golding delivered powerful words about problems with the DEIS. Gary Gross, Project Coordinator for Dare County, pointed out the lies and half truths said by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the Audubon Society. Jim Keene, President of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association, spent his time covering the topic of cultural traditions on the island. Over and over, the fact that this is an access issue, not just an ORV issue, was driven home.
In between each speaker, the emcee kept reminding the crowd on how important it was to write comments on the DEIS now and tips of how to do it effectively. It wasn’t long before the lines grew at the help tables as people waited for information and assistance.
The tables were set up under a tent manned with OBPA volunteers helping people write their comments in both paper form and directly into the NPS PEPC website with several laptop computers that were receiving wireless internet.
“Rally for Beach Access” was a true exercise in the freedom of speech. Many speakers took off their proverbial gloves and threw big punches for the protection of beach access and the people’s right to be treated fairly by the federal government.
“Stand in the Sand BBQ III” Freedom Fest
Call for Volunteers
The OBPA (Outer Banks Preservation Association) is gearing up for its 3rd Annual “Stand in the Sand” fundraiser scheduled for Friday, June 25 from noon until dark at the Fessenden Center in Buxton.
Just like the two previous events, the fundraiser will sell dinner pork and chicken barbeque dinners, and will also feature guest speakers, music, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, beach access information booths, play area for children and several local artists.
It takes a lot of man power to make this event happen and there are many different types of jobs that need volunteers to fill. To find out what you can do to help, contact Greg at blufis@ live.com. Many hands make light work.
Stand in the Sand is one of our largest fundraisers of the year. All the money that the OBPA raises is used to pay all the legal challenges for maintaining reasonable beach access for everyone.
This fundraiser is always a fun-filled day for the community. Each one of us can be a part of preserving our beach heritage. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area is worth fighting for. Please help!