Time to Pay to Play!

2012 will mark the first year where we will be required to buy permits to drive on the sand. The new requirement takes affect in a few days (Feb 15) and permits may be purchased at various stations located at or near access ramps throughout the NPS Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  For local/regular Hatteras wavesailors it will mean $120 for the annual pass.  Those here short term will require a $50/week pass.

There has been a lot of debate on the issue with those both in favor as well as the majority who are against the new requirement.  I for one, am semi-neutral.  I see the validity given the explosion of SUV popularity over the past 20 years and the vast increase of visitor ORV traffic on the OBX.  This new requirement, in my opinion, simply serves as an enforcement measure to better manage Cape Hatteras National Seashore given increased visitor/traffic numbers against static NPS personnel coverage. 

From the Hatteras wavesailing perspective, I see it as a way to open the beaches and new found surf breaks, especially along the east Cape Point area where traffic can become quite tight during popular weeks/weekends with fishing lines every few yards along the beach.  Additionally, perhaps we will less likely see passenger and light SUV vehicles stuck in the sand blocking access ramps and delaying the trek out to the surf zone.  Of course, the decreased numbers of monster trucks racing between south Coquina beach and Oregon Inlet will also be welcome relief.

On the down side, there will be an economic impact.  A definite part of the Hatteras experience is the opportunity to drive onto the sand and set up a beach camp for the day.  A new fiscal cost to that activity along with time and effort to obtain a permit will turn visitors off of the OBX experience.  If there are decreased visitor numbers, this will directly impact local business.  Annual surf fishing contests in the Fall are huge and this requirement will likely turn off some who frequent these events.

Though who knows..., people will still come.  The permit may be a "pain in the a$$" for some, especially if here visiting for a week, but all in all, for those who truly need to drive onto the beach or truly want to, they can.  It will simply cost some extra time and money.


At 3:44 PM, Blogger George Markopoulos said...

Welcome to my world here on the Delmarva. They’ve been charging 90 for an annual pass, more if you want the permit that allows you to stay on the beach overnight.
The pass I have for $90 is a “daylight” pass

At 8:46 PM, Blogger Waterturtle said...

C'mon Bill, pick a side! Just kidding...you make good points on both sides of the debate. I'm an outsider...only a visitor. But it would seem to me that the locals should have an opportunity to vote on this issue. The pros/cons of this debate have a direct impact on the livelihoods of the locals. It's too bad it can't be put up for a vote. For me however....I love Hatteras...and love driving on the beach (responsibly), so I will begrudgingly pay the fee.

At 8:05 AM, Blogger PeconicPuffin said...

I think it's a good thing for the long-term. The rule can be fine tuned after a few years to dial it in. Better to overprotect the beach than underprotect it!

At 9:58 AM, Blogger gunbowcrazy said...

What you fail to realize is that the NPS shut down all access to the only places we want to fish. Surfers and other recreationalist have miles of beach to themselves, Sad to know that I'll only be able to tell my kids about the good ol' days. Monster trucks? Lifted trucks are few and far between on the beach. Stuck in the sand? Generally the people I see getting stuck are those in glorified cars with AWD. Even that is a rare site.

At 10:21 AM, Blogger Bill said...

hey gunbow,

Yea, from the fisherman's perspective, they will be the hardest hit, and ironically the fishing ORV user have the greatest need and numbers. For the watersports recreationists, primarily only windsurfing in the waves requires the need to drive the gear out to the best surf breaks.

As for the monster trucks, you have to check out the stretch between Oregon Inlet and Coquina beach something on a summer weekend. Especially the Memorial/Labor Day weekends. Not sure if this is the same down at Billy Mitchell in Frisco, but at Oregon Inlet there are many huge lifts and big tires, spinning sand and working those power audio systems.

Stuck in the sand..., any of the ramps between Avon and Salvo, especially 30 can cause "traffic jams" in the summer. As noted, usually its an AWD and/or an inexperienced sand driver.

All in all though, yea the "good ol' days" are gone... and we will have to adjust to these new requirements.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see both sides of this too. Its hard to pick one. I love having all my gear within reach, but I have gotten use to hiking my gear to the water too.

I'm not so sure the fee will deter many. As a visitor, $50 / week seems steep. But in Carolina Beach they started charging $20/day a few years ago. The annual permit is less; typically $60 but jumps to $100 after memorial day each year. We thought it would decrease traffic and trash on the beach. Nothing like stumbling over half burnt logs while carrying gear. But the new ever increasing fees don't seem to make a dent in the crowd. In the summer, trucks are still parked three deep. People get in fist fights over "their spots". Its still crazy there and the town is making millions.

I hope the new fees do help to protect but I'm a little wary much will change as far as traffic. Hopefully the permit process will better educate.


At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tough choices! The restrictions on ORV, combined with what seems like miles of "roped off" areas for the plover, no wonder the locals feel squeezed!


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