Its That Time of Year Again to Debate.. ORV Access 2010
Looks like the Outer Banks ORV access issue is heating up again for 2010! The latest Outer Banks Sentinel article regarding the issue highlights new efforts to restrict access this year. An interesting quote from this article comes from one of the scientists involved with the latest push to restrict access. "One of the scientists mistakes is that they did not estimate the populations obsession with ORV activities." This is definitely a true statement.
Everyone today has a 4WD SUV, whether they need it or not. During the summer months, 90% of people driving on the beach really are doing it because they "can." Its fun, convenient, and thrilling for the visitor from metro DC, western Virginia, central Ohio, etc...to drive their vehicle on the sand and experience the OBX off-road. If that individual purchased a permit, then cool, but if not, they could remain at the parking lot.
I do not know why the NPS does not adopt a permit-only ORV access policy with checkpoint stations manned by NPS staff. Basically, the restricted areas would be opened from one point and that point is manned with NPS staff who check for a permit sticker on vehicles. Perhaps everyone has to pay for it, however, Dare county residents may receive a discount or annual pass option, while visitors would require a seasonal or daily pass. These could be purchased from local area businesses and/or NPS ranger stations. The "daily pass" option for non-residents would substantially restrict access as well as generate revenue. The proceeds could be used to pay for the manned checkpoints as well as access management activities. Also it could be limited to a set amount of permits per year, or even per day. Once they are sold out, that's it.
All in all though, it will likely end up like last year. Some spots like Cape Point/The Cove will be shut down in early May and not accessible until late Sept. Same with Oregon Inlet, and some ramps between Waves and Avon. However, other ramps will remain open, and areas like Coquina will close to ORV, yet the beach will remain completely accessible. Same with Ego, Lifeguard, and most other places we regularly wave sail. All in all, I am not too worried about it. There will be plenty of killer wave sessions to come, even if their are no ORVs out there on the sand.
For more info on the issue, or to get involved see:
Save Hatteras and Ocracoke Island (Pro-Beach Access)
Southern Environmental Law Center (Anti-Beach Access)
NPS Closure Map (In the Middle)
photo: Janis Markopoulos