ESA Easterns, Buxton 2007. Floating between the first pair of groins, small sets split the crowd, but Kech won't leave me alone. He keeps grinning me at me, hypnotically repeating same phrase like an over-aged grom's version of the Jedi Mind Trick: "Let's drive down to the point." I tell him the wind's all wrong. The swell's backwards. That we only have a half-hour to spare. But he's relentless, so we dash to the lot, pile in 4-Runner and rip southward toward the first access for a soft, bouncy float across the sand. Ten minutes later, we're sitting on the hood facing east, surrounded by fishermen, kids and dogs. The waves are trash, but Matt's serene, sipping his Gatorade and waxing nostalgic. He knew we wouldn't surf. He just wanted to relive a favorite Outer Banks ritual: to sit and reflect at the very point where all that southern and northern ocean energy comes together. Suddenly, jumping in the car feels like the best decision in the world. And six months later it's feels even better— because it now it looks like he may never get another chance.
According to the website www.SaveHatteras.com: "In Fall of 2007, National Audubon Society, The Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center filed suit in Federal District Court against the United States of America to limit or ban access to many of the primary areas of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, including Oregon Inlet, Cape Point and most of Ocracoke. On March 13, 2008 the Dept of Justice declined to contest the lawsuit which will be heard April 4, 2008 in Raleigh NC. This effectively means that beach access will be closed at that time. [Furthermore,] you could be looking at full closures of these areas until the federal courts have heard the lawsuit against the Interim ORV Plan. If a judge decides in favor of the groups that have brought this lawsuit, there would be a full closure of all ORV access."
So now is the time for surfers to join together and start driving themselves to action. First, send a pleacast to all the appropriate parties. Let them know how important access to surf there are ways to be environmentally sensitive and still allow humans to enjoy the beach. As Surfrider's Outer Banks Chapter puts in their official stance: "[we implore] all parties involved in this issue to find a balance between access, protection and preservation. We recommend managing access of these areas through a combination of permitting, limiting the number of vehicles, and closures when necessary to protect the migratory species that use this area seasonally. The Outer Banks Chapter of Surfrider Foundation supports protection and preservation, and in this unique situation does support the reasonable use of Off Road Vehicles to allow public access this area."
Second, locals can attend the public meeting on March Thursday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m. at the Fessenden Center in Buxton, where they will describe in detail all of the current access issues facing Hatteras Island and Ocracoke — that includes, the heated battle over how to handle the Bonner Bridge.
Funny, that debate – whether to replace the current the current span over Oregon Inlet or create a 17-mile bridge that would bypass Pea Island entirely — seemed to be the more pressing issue, as surfers face losing access to all breaks north of S-Turns. Now, with that issue still unresolved, we're suddenly fighting for access to spots further south, meaning it's more important than ever for surfers to monitor Outer Banks access non-stop.
As Kech noted while watching the shifting sandbars:
"Better keep an eye on what happens down here — it changes fast."