Local News

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

Posted September 8, 2008 6:12 p.m. EDT
Updated September 8, 2008 10:04 p.m. EDT

— 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.