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Are protected beaches keeping visitors from vacationing in N.C.?

Posted September 8, 2008

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— The National Park Service reports wildlife nesting sites are up compared with last year along the North Carolina coast. Visitors to the park are down.

As the summer season ends and the fall season begins, the big question is: Will the trend continue?

At Dillon's Corner, the fishing business is beginning to pick up from the summer slump.

“We were down, like 40 percent,” Ollie Jarvis said.

It is a downturn Jarvis says can be blamed on a court settlement requiring the National Park Service to close beaches to protect nesting wildlife.

“We've had one breeding season. This year, we've had a record amount of closures and we've had a record amount of turtle nests, and it's hard to measure if there is a direct correlation between closures and breeding nests,” John McCutcheon, with the National Park Service, said.

Closing the beaches effectively bans many anglers and vacationers from getting to favorite spots.

“This is the first time we've been down (to the beach) this year, and we're usually here at least six times. It (the closures) takes all the fun out of it for us,” vacationer Michael Perkins said.

“It does make a difference. Just how much of a difference is yet to be seen,” rental agent Beth Midgett said.

Midgett says this summer's rental season was good, but she is cautious about the early bookings for next year.

“Right now, we have tentative reservations. When it actually comes time to pay the money in mid-January, that will start telling the tale,” Midgett said.

Overall, visitors to the National Seashore are down 10 percent through July. August statistics are due out Wednesday.


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  • OpinionOnEverything Sep 9, 2008

    We're not talking about a small amount of beach, Bendal.

    All up and down the Outer Banks, there are limited options for beach access that doesn't involve 4WDs. There are a few parking lots scattered about with clusters of beachgoers that can't possibly make the walk up to the next access point. These are only good for sunbathers, not fishermen.

    Out of state property owners want to keep access restricted so they can "own" a piece of the beach by making it nearly impossible for the public to cross through. They are the ones supporting these restrictive rules, not just the environmentalists.

  • rocket Sep 9, 2008

    good call, jcampbell. If you haven't already signed do it now and encourage anyone you know to do the same.

  • jcampbell52790 Sep 9, 2008

    Why did they close cape point, oregon inlet, and the points of ocracoke island, all prime fishing spots, within a week of the consent decree?? its part of NC audobons agenda. sign the petition to re-instate the Interim Management Plan... http://www.gopetition.com/online/18790.html

  • pebbles262004 Sep 9, 2008

    we have not been tot he beacha s much this year on account of this. We like driving out and being by ourself and letting the kids play

  • Sailfish Sep 9, 2008

    If they would put the effort and money into researching fish as they have into the birds and turtles North Carolina's fishing industry would go back to the way it use to be. Many of us rely on fishing as a way of life.

  • rocket Sep 9, 2008

    It's way more than 10%. I don't know the exact number but I'd bet less than 20% of the beach from Corolla to Ocracoke is accessible via ORV, probably less. You have obviously never been to the island. It's not Myrtle Beach. Many of the most popular spots can only be reached by ORV. And keep in mind, most of the closure are complete closures meaning ORV and pedestrian.

  • Bendal1 Sep 9, 2008

    Actually, the number of sea turtle nests and hatchings has increased over recent years.

    Now, just how much of the beach compared to the total length is off limits to vehicles? I doubt it's more than 10%, and people are claiming that's causing a drop of 40% in revenue while ignoring the high cost of fuel??? Some people need to look further than the end of their noses for reasons.

  • rocket Sep 9, 2008

    Give the beaches back to the people. The birds and turtles will do just fine either way.

  • White Eagle Sep 9, 2008

    The basis for closing the beaches was based on "bad science." No control data presented to prove that closing the beaches would actually help the birds or turtles. Pea Island beaches are closed to beach traffic; how many plovers and turtles nested there before the beach closures? Have the number of plover and turtle nests increased there since the mandated closures? Show us some data instead of unsubstantiated stories.

    Does it matter that the plovers are at the southern edge of their nesting range and this will therefore affect their nesting? As global warming increases, the southern edge of their range will migrate north. It's been seen with other species (both plant and animal). What will the tree-huggers do then to prevent people from using the beaches?

    Use data to support the arguments, not unsubstantiated stories. Breeding and nesting by birds and turtles is cyclic. Who is to say the increases seen this year aren't just a high in the cycle? There needs to be several years of dat

  • Sailfish Sep 9, 2008

    When the natives GAVE the beaches to the parks service it was with the understanding that people would always have unlimitted access to them.