Point Closure May 19, 2018

On May 18, 2018 we shared on Facebook information with you that there would be a partial closure of Cape Point to protect strategically built bird nests. The requirements attached to the Defense Authorization act of Fiscal 2015 mandate the NPS "Review and adjust wildlife protection buffers using adaptive management practices to insure buffers are of the shortest duration and cover the smallest area necessary to protect species." Despite changes within the Final Rule governing access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area the current nest locations require a wildlife protection buffer that prevents access to approximately 500 meters of the Point area to all ORV and pedestrian traffic. In this case the closure took place on the morning of May 19 and is likely to last until late July.

While there are numerous shorebird nests in the Cape Point area (Piping Plover, American Oystercatchers, and Colonial Water Bird colonies), the species that is currently preventing access to the tip of Cape Point are Least Terns of which there are, as of May 23, twelve nests. The current NPS wildlife protection buffer for Least Terns nests is 100 meters.

When Shelly Island merged with Cape Point it created a considerable amount of additional beach at the Point. While this additional area was thought to be helpful in accommodating more visitors and enabling access corridors, if required, and when possible, it was also obvious that the added stretch of beach would be an invitation for birds that prefer that broad open beach adjacent to the tide line for nesting. The current closure extends from just north of the point to approximately one tenth of a mile south of the bypass road terminus (i.e. you can drive from Ramp 44 south for 7/10 of a mile). The bypass road allows ORV access beyond the dune line in the cases where high tides make the beach impassable however allowing for access to the Point itself. While a small area of the Point remains open and outside of the closure, it is limited to those willing to walk there while remaining with feet in the water. This requires a great deal of caution and awareness of potential wave activity and rip currents often apparent in that area.

Although we are grateful that conditions allowed ORV access to the Point for 660 continuous days, less one for ordnance disposal, prior to this closure the NCBBA Directors and Officers along with other access groups will continue the mission to strive for additional access to more areas for longer durations. While NPS Hatteras, under the leadership of Superintendent David Hallac, has complied with, and in many cases exceeded, the requirements for improved access there is still more work to be done. The "best available" science that dictates the buffer areas and duration of closures is not exact and, in fact, according to many people, dubious and subject to strong challenges.

I suggest that you contact your local, state and federal elected officials as well as NPS Hatteras and the Department of Interior to express your concerns about the current closures and the designation of Vehicle Free Areas. At present we have an access friendly Secretary of the Interior in Ryan Zinke. He has mandated that the public should have access to public lands whenever possible. In addition to his initiatives to improve access the Trump administration is seeking to change the rules under which various species may be deemed in need of special protection that tends to stay in place for inordinate amounts of time after a "recovery" has been accomplished. They are trying to make it more difficult to list and easier to remove what are often considered excessive protections.

Unfortunately, one of the most desirable areas for fishing, shelling and sight-seeing is currently closed to ORV access due to nesting birds in an area where their success rate is historically poor. In the case of our beaches the good news is that there remains approximately 27.5 miles available for ORV access, representing over 90% of summer time ORV routes, and good fishing can be found along much of that area. Please don't allow the closure of .4 miles of beach discourage you from enjoying all of the other opportunities on Hatteras Island and adjacent areas.

Al Adam, Vice President NCBBA

ANNOUNCING 10th ANNUAL RED DRUM TOURNAMENT

(SEE BELOW FOR REGISTRATION LINKS)

By Bill King, Director #1467

To our Members and Red Drum Anglers,

As one of the Co-Chairman for this year’s RDT, please allow me to share how excited I, the RDT Steering Committee and the entire Board of Directors is about the 10-year anniversary of our Red Drum Tournament. Much planning and thought has gone into making our tournament the very best fishing experience for you.

As last year’s tournament banquet was ending, and with Dave Joyner’s announcement to our President Bill Smith of his stepping away and retiring as the Director of this long running event, the Board was faced with quite a challenge. Dave had shared his basic “action plan” with the Board and told us we would be fine using his outline. How right he was.

President Bill Smith appointed a Red Drum Steering Committee consisting of seven folks with the concurrence of the BOD. We began meeting and working throughout the winter to build onto what Dave had put together - with a few “new” improvements and upgrades. We appreciate those who offered ideas and suggestions left in our comments box at last year’s banquet. We hope you see yours incorporated in this year’s event.

 

DATES  October 24- 27, 2018
AWARDS INCREASED  To celebrate our 10th anniversary we are expanding prizes to $10K in value
NEW PRIZE CATEGORIES  Daily Award for 2nd Longest Drum at $300 value per day
Senior Award for 2nd Longest Drum - $300 value
Youth Award for 2nd Longest Drum - $250 value
Youth Award for Longest Bluefish - $175 value
Youth Award for Longest Sea Mullet - $175 value
INCREASED AWARD Most Red Drum Caught - $900 value
EXPANSION TO RAMP 43 We will expand to Ramp 43 (left of ramp), based on judge availability 
NEW AWARDS BANQUET VENUE/TIME  Beach Klub at Koru Village from 4:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. 
  Doors open at 3:00 P.M. for Vendor Show
This is a covered facility with handicap ramp next to the Avon Pier.
  The change in location is to allow you to get on the road a little earlier. 
VENDOR SHOW  We are excited to offer a vendor show 
WEDNESDAY MEETING CHANGE Instead of the Wednesday dinner, we will host a Judges, New Angler meeting,
  which will include light snacks, at the Avon Fire Department 
REGISTRATION HEADQUARTERS  Registration will once again be at Frank n' Fran's 
TOMMY FARMER CASTING CLINIC  We are thrilled award-winning Tommy Farmer will once again host a casting clinic 

Click Here to download and print registration form 

Click Here to Register on-line

Click Here to download and print tournament rules 

Click Here for tournament prizes

New - Senior Life Membership

ANNOUNCEMENT:  Effective today, March 21,2017, NCBBA is offering a Senior Lifetime Membership. This new Membership option is available to all current and incoming members who are 60 years or older. The cost of this Senior Lifetime Membership is $200. If you are a current member and 60 or older, you can now choose the Senior Lifetime Membership at renewal time or at any other time during the year.

The new Senior Lifetime Membership is not retroactive in any form and is available from this day forward.

To sign up for this new Membership option, visit our website at ncbba.org. Click on “Shop” and then “Memberships & Renewals” under Product Categories.  Membership applications are currently being printed and will be available in tackle shops, with this new option, in the near future.

 Bill Smith

 

CHAPA - A significant milestone.....

Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance

Post Office Box 1355

Buxton, North Carolina 27920

March 14, 2017

A significant milestone…..

On January 20, 2017 the National Park Service (NPS) implemented a new ORV Management Rule at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area (Seashore). The new rule replaced the previous rule which had been in effect since February, 2012. With this action, the NPS has officially addressed each component of the Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2015, Section 3057: Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area (Act).

The completion of the NPS actions in response to the Act is a significant milestone in the efforts of beach access advocates which have been ongoing since the 1970s when executive orders were issued requiring the designation of ORV routes and areas on NPS lands.

The NPS aggressively began an effort to establish an ORV rule for the Seashore in 2005 in response to lawsuits from several environmental organizations in the previous few years. The Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance (CHAPA), led by the Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA), North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA) and the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club (CHAC), has fought for the past 17 years on behalf of the members of these organizations and for all beach access advocates to insure any rules or policies implemented would preserve and protect the natural resources and recreational opportunities within the Seashore without prohibiting the access formally promised to the public at the Seashore’s dedication in 1958 by the director of the NPS, Conrad Wirth.

The first rule and associated wildlife management practices, which were implemented in February of 2012, had significant shortcomings. Congress recognized these shortcomings and passed the Act in December of 2014 requiring that they be addressed. The Act and many of the changes made by NPS to respond to the Act were influenced by recommendations made by CHAPA, its member organizations, representatives of local governments and the individuals who have advocated beach access throughout this process.

At this milestone, it is important to reflect on the changes made regarding pedestrian and ORV access to the Seashore as a result of the Act and to look forward to the future.

Successes

Review and Adjustment of Wildlife Buffers

Numerous wildlife protection buffers were modified on June 15, 2015 in response to the Act requirement that they be addressed within 180 days. Several of the changes significantly improved access in 2015/16. Some of the changes positively improved access in theory but only marginally in practice.

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The amount of beach open to ORV and pedestrian access during the months of July, August, September and October was significantly greater in 2015 and 2016 than in the previous years under the 2012 ORV plan.

Table 1: Year Round ORV Oceanfront Access (excludes seasonally opened mileage) Smallest Amount Opened/Largest Amount Closed by Year

 

 

Oceanfront ORV

Oceanfront ORV

Oceanfront ORV

Date of Largest

 

 

Miles Open

Miles Closed

Miles Total

Closure

2012

 

15.70

9.50

25.2

8/15/2012

2013

 

9.55

15.65

25.2

8/21/2013

2014

 

13.66

11.54

25.2

8/20/2014

2015

(pre 7/15)

16.95

8.25

25.2

6/3/2015

2015

(post 7/15)

20.29

4.92

25.2

7/22/2015

2016

 

20.70

4.50

25.2

6/8/2016

Approximately 4 -5 miles of oceanfront ORV access are closed for almost all of each summer due to buffers for nesting birds and chicks at the points and spits. In 2012, a tern colony closed the beach at ramp 27 for over two months preventing access to almost three miles of beach (prior to construction of Ramp 25). Prior to the changes made in 2015 (described below), turtle nests accounted for the majority of the other miles closed during the summer. In 2016, the low point for access occurred in early June. In July and August, ORV access ranged between 23 and 24.5 miles.

Turtles

Changes in turtle nest management procedures were implemented on June 15, 2015. Smaller buffers around the nest when first laid allow for ORV passage behind or in front of the nest until the hatch window is reached except in extremely narrow sections of beach. During the hatch window, using procedures described by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, NPS personnel install a corridor in front of the nest for ORV passage during the day. In the evening, ruts within the corridor are raked smooth to provide clear passage for hatchlings should the hatch occur overnight. Driving corridors were placed in front of 47 sea turtles nests in 2016. These changes significantly reduced and almost eliminated ORV and pedestrian closures due to turtle nests in 2015 and 2016 (both record setting years for nesting).

Piping Plovers

The changes regarding Piping Plover nest buffers (reduced from 75 meters to 50 meters) and unfledged chicks buffers (reduced from 1000 meters to 500 meters or 200 meters under certain conditions for ORVs, and reduced from 300 meters to 100 meters for pedestrians) reflect the guidelines published in the Piping Plover Recovery Plan and are consistent with the changes CHAPA had recommended. The size of closures due to piping plovers should be smaller than what has occurred over the past decade, but their impact on ORV and pedestrian access will be highly dependent on the physical locations of the nests and broods and on the landscape of the affected beaches.

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The reductions in the size of pre-hatch plover and oystercatcher nest buffers increase the likelihood that closure of Cape Point in the spring will be delayed from mid-April until mid-May. This, in fact, happened in 2016.

The reduction in size of closures for unfledged plover chicks also increases the likelihood that ramp 44 will be open to ORV access in June, July and August. In 2016, Ramp 44 was closed for a period due to flooding from excessive rain events over the previous six months; however, it was never closed due to unfledged plover chicks. Flooding at Cape Point also likely caused plovers to locate their nests further to the west than in previous years, further reducing the threat to closure of Ramp 44. While the physical location of the unfledged chicks will continue to determine where closures are necessary, the smaller buffers are a positive change which should favorably affect ORV and pedestrian access in the future.

American Oystercatchers

Nesting and pre-fledged buffers for American Oystercatchers (AMOY) were not changed because the NPS did not find adequate peer-reviewed scientific data to support a change. However, peer-reviewed scientific data was identified that supported the use of an ORV only corridor located between 50 meters and 25 meters from the nest location until the eggs hatch. The use of the ORV-only corridor was adopted by the NPS. As noted above, Cape Point remained open a month longer in the spring due to this change, combined with the changes made for piping plovers’ nests. However, closures due to unfledged AMOY chicks continued to prevent access for part of the summer.

Colonial Waterbirds

Nesting buffers for Colonial Waterbirds were not changed because the NPS did not find adequate peer-reviewed scientific data to support a change. The buffer for unfledged least tern chicks was reduced from 200 meters to 100 meters. This change did not affect access favorably or unfavorably in 2015/16. Conceivably, if least terns establish colonies on a wide expanse of beach, such as at Cape Point or South Point, this change in policy could allow sections of the beach to remain open when they would have previously been closed. However, beaches in other locations are generally too narrow to benefit from the change from 200 to 100 meters. The 2012 Ramp 27 closure described earlier would still occur in the future should terns choose to nest at that location again.

Modifications to Final Rule

Several significant changes to the ORV rule were implemented on January 20, 2017. All of these changes have a positive impact on ORV access.

One mile of Vehicle Free Areas (VFAs) was re-designated as year-round ORV access. Ramp 2 was restored and reopened and the plan to replace ramp 59 was cancelled. At each location, a half mile of beach previously designated as VFA was re-opened to year -round access.

Two miles of VFAs were re-designated as seasonal ORV routes. 1.5 miles of VFA south of Ramp 23 and one mile of VFA north of Ramp 34 were re-opened.

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Seasonal ORV routes will open 2 weeks earlier in the fall (October 15) and close two weeks later in the spring (April 14) providing an additional month of ORV access in front of the villages.

Ten priority ORV routes will open at 6:00 a.m. in May, June, July; open at 6.30 a.m. in August and September; open at 7:00 a.m. in October, November. Non-priority routes will open at 7:00 a.m. Priority routes include Ramps 2, 4, 25, 27, 43, 44, 48, 49, 70, and 72. Previously, all ORV routes were opened at 7:00 a.m. from May 1 until the later of September 15 or when turtle nests had hatched within each route.

Annual ORV permits will begin and end on date issued. 7-day permits will be replaced with a 10-day permit.

The bypass road was extended north to Ramp 44 and south to the open beach approaching Cape Point and was designated part of the route. This change will reduce the likelihood that access to Cape Point will be closed due to erosion, ocean over wash, or turtle nests within this stretch of beach.

Construction of New Vehicle Access Points

A number of positive infrastructure projects have been authorized and many completed over the course of the past two years.

The NPS identified and prioritized 29 infrastructure projects it deemed important to public access at the Seashore in July, 2013. In March 2015, Superintendent David Hallac initiated a review of those projects with objectives to update both the projects on the list and their priorities. CHAPA met with the NPS on several occasions to provide recommendations for changes, many of which were adopted. Several of the projects identified in 2013 along with several new projects were placed on a fast track to completion due to the Act.

Some of the completed projects are:

New ORV Ramp 32 on Hatteras Island was constructed and opened in late summer of 2015.

The inside ORV road connecting ramp 49 to ramp 44 was completed in early winter of 2016.

New ORV Ramp 48 on Hatteras Island was constructed and opened in late fall of 2015.

Plans to construct a new ramp south of ramp 2 on Bodie Island were scrapped and existing ramp 2 was reopened.

Plans to construct a new ramp west of ramp 59 on Ocracoke were scrapped and existing ramp 59 will remain open in the future.

New ORV bypass extending approximately 2,800 feet from ramp 44 to Cape Point behind dunes was constructed and opened in late January, 2017.

Ramp 49 on Hatteras Island was elevated three feet to reduce the threat of flooding similar to what occurred during the fall, winter and spring of 2016. This project was completed in early fall, 2016.

Project to elevate Ramp 44 on Hatteras Island by two feet to reduce the threat of flooding similar to what occurred during the fall, winter and spring of 2016 was initiated in late fall of 2016 and will be completed by early spring of 2017.

New ORV ramp 63 on Ocracoke was constructed and opened in 2016.

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Two soundside access areas with parking were designated on Ocracoke (Devils Shoals Road and South Bitterswash Creek).

Disappointments and Failures

The changes which have occurred in response to the Act have all positively impacted visitor access to the Seashore to one degree or another. However, a number of CHAPA recommendations were not adopted by NPS. These unfulfilled recommendations represent missed opportunities to further improve the visitors’ abilities to use the Seashore in ways to which they have been accustomed since its inception.

Wildlife Buffers

With regard to wildlife management, buffers and closures for unfledged piping plovers, American oystercatchers and colonial waterbirds will continue to prevent pedestrian and ORV access during most of the summer at key locations within the seashore, including Bodie Island Spit, Cape Point, Hatteras Inlet (when not flooded), Ocracoke at Hatteras Inlet and South Point. Although the buffer for unfledged plover chicks has been significantly reduced, the buffers for unfledged oystercatchers and colonial waterbirds have changed only minimally. Given the historical location of nests for these species, odds are high that Cape Point and South Point will continue to be closed from the middle of May until late August.

As you can see in Table 2, although piping plover chicks fledged by mid July, the Point did not reopen until late August in 2013, 2014, and 2015. It remained closed because of unfledged oystercatchers and colonial waterbirds. The earlier re-opening in 2016 occurred because an oystercatcher was lost earlier than expected, likely due to predation.

Table 2: Cape Point Historical Close / Reopen Dates

Year

Closed

Reopened

Plover Fledged Date

2011

3/11/2011

7/18/2011

7/18/2011

2012

4/09/2012

8/03/2012

8/03/2012

2013

4/09/2013

8/23/2013

7/16/2013

2014

4/02/2014

8/26/2014

7/18/2014

2015

4/06/2015

8/30/2015

7/15/2015(?)

2016

5/11/2016

7/27/2016

7/15/2016(?)

Other areas of otherwise open beach are also at risk for closure should oystercatchers or colonial waterbirds choose to nest in these areas.

The Act required that buffers “are of the shortest duration and cover the smallest area necessary to protect a species, as determined in accordance with peer-reviewed scientific data.�? Scientific data for these species are limited. As a result, the NPS was conservative in the changes it was willing to adopt. Attention must be given to identifying or developing science regarding these non- threatened non- endangered species that will provide options to preserving access.

ORV Rule

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Collectively, the changes in ORV routes which were recommended by CHAPA but not adopted by NPS would have moderately increased the amount of beach available for access without compromising any of the objectives which were sought through the designations of routes in the original rule in 2012. A summary of CHAPA recommendations for ORV routes follows.

Year-round Vehicle Free Areas should be reduced 7.5 miles (from 26 miles to 18.5 miles). The new rule reduced VFA s by 3 miles (from 26 miles to 23 miles).

Bodie Island Spit and the South Beach (from Cape Point towards Frisco) continue to be classified as Vehicle Free Areas and remain closed year round to ORV access. Further, the rule does not provide for designation of a temporary ORV corridor from old Ramp 45 to Cape Point when circumstances such as flooding or erosion prevent access from Ramp 44, a modification to the rule which had been proposed by CHAPA.

One and a half miles of beachfront should be re-designated to year round ORV routes (from 25.2 miles to 26.7 miles). The new rule increases year-round routes by 1 mile, .5 mile less than CHAPA’s recommendation.

Six miles of VFAs on the oceanfront should be re-designated to Seasonal ORV routes (from 13 miles to 19 miles). The new rule increases Seasonal routes by two miles, four miles less than

CHAPA’s recommendation.

Seasonal ORV Routes open on October 1 and close on April 30 rather than the October 15 – April 14 dates chosen for the new rule.

Future

CHAPA believes the future will offer opportunities to further improve the visitor experience through greater access as intended by Congress, and without impairment to resource protection objectives. Continued compliance with the Act will be a requirement when changes to wildlife buffers or to the ORV rule are considered in the future. We will continue to make recommendations to the NPS for changes consistent with Act, the enabling legislation, and the objectives of the organizations and people we have represented over the past 17 years.

CHAPA believes the changes which have been made to wildlife protection buffers and to the ORV rule over the past two years signal a turning point in our effort to preserve visitor access to the beaches at the Seashore. We look forward to partnering with the NPS to find solutions to resolve the disappointments and failures described above as well as to find solutions for new issues that arise in the future.

We urge all who advocate access at the Seashore to remain involved and to stay aware of what is happening, let the rangers and volunteers at the Seashore know you appreciate their work, and take a personal interest in making our Seashore the best it can be. Our efforts will insure the Seashore remains the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area for now and for future generations.

John Couch

President, Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA)

The Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance (CHAPA) is a project of the OBPA

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