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ORV Access at Cape Hatteras
Posted on 09/25/2008
A joint statement from: Recreational Fishing Alliance & The United Mobile Sportfishermen (September 12, 2008) Attention Fishermen and others interested in ORV Beach Access at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area During the latest meeting of the Federal Advisory Committee charged with writing the long term ORV access plan for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area on September 9, 2008, committee member and Dare County (NC) Commissioner, Mr. Warren Judge requested the ability to televise all future public committee meetings on the Dare County public television station and to post the video of the meetings on the Dare County web site. This offer was made to answer the many requests heard by the public to observe this nationally important government rulemaking process. Mike Murray, Superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, acting in his role as the Designated Federal Officer for the committee, informed the members that he could only allow this if he had the full consent of the whole committee. After considering the comments of some committee members that were concerned a public broadcast would create a carnival atmosphere and could change behaviors of committee members and then weighing these concerns against the significant public comment heard at the meetings and by constituents from across the country that the process is difficult to follow from afar, needs to be more open and in the public eye, Mr. Patrick Paquette who serves both the Recreational Fishing Alliance Shore Access Program and the United Mobile Sport Fishermen and represents the national recreational fisherman's interest on the committee made a statement to the committee supporting this request. When the question was posed to the committee only 5 of the 30 stakeholder representatives opposed the broadcast. Mr. Paquette stated this was very inconsistent behavior by the committee because at an earlier meeting, a crew from French Television, filming a documentary on global warming was allowed to film part of a meeting. Unfortunately the five objections were enough to allow Mr. Murray to deny the future broadcast request. Of the five members that opposed the broadcast, four should not surprise anyone that has been paying attention to this process. Jason Rylander (Defenders of Wildlife), Walker Golder (NC Audubon), and Derb Carter (Southern Environmental Law Center) are the plaintiffs in the law suit that brought about the draconian measures in the current consent decree that have closed the most important fishing beaches in the Seashore for most of the summer and continues to prevent full access to popular areas like Cape Point and the Southern Spit of Ocrakoke Island, which was named "Americas Number One Beach" in 2007. The fourth member to object to the broadcast was Neal Moore of the Cape Hatteras Bird Club. Mr. Moore is the same member that made offensive comments on the record to Past President of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Assn and RFA Member Mr. John Newbold during public comment at a previous committee meeting. Mr. Neal did not even stay in the meeting room to listen to the 12 noon public comment period at the September 9 meeting, choosing to rather sit in a chair in the outer hallway, apparently once again being observed napping. What surprised many on the committee and the audience was the fifth committee member that raised a hand in objection to the broadcast; Mr. David Allen who represents the State of NC Wildlife Resources Commission . "This is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of out of state recreational fishers that travel to and utilize this precious national resource and sustain the local economy during the fishing season," said Billy Lomniki, President of the United Mobile Sportfishermen. After learning of this surprise action by a State of North Carolina Representative, RFA Executive Director Jim Donofrio made the following statement: "The State of NC has a statute that allows public broadcast of all public meetings and for a representative of the State of North Carolina to deny the public the ability to watch the full committee meetings and make their own judgments of this public process is an outrage. I guess we know what side the NC Wildlife Resources Commission is on." The Recreational Fishing Alliance is calling on all fishermen that are interested in ORV access on the world famous beaches of North Carolina 's Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area to make phone calls and send e-mails to Mike Murray, Designated Federal Officer of the committee demanding the broadcast of the meetings be allowed beginning with the next meeting in October. We further request you contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and protest their representative taking sides when a state official should at least give the appearance of being neutral, and request that David Allen follow the spirit of the NC law allowing such a broadcast. Together we can turn this slap in the face into a mandate by the public that this process is supposed to be serving. Contact Info: Mike Murray, DFO CAHA FACA Superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Gordon Myers, Executive Director For more information contact: Patrick Paquette Recreational Fishing Alliance Shore Access Program United Mobile Sportfishermen; Executive Director