Blue skies and mid-70s temperatures have the makings of a lovely day at the beach. Although summer weather might be sounding its last hurrah, and it might have been the perfect day to enjoy the beach at Hatteras and Ocracoke, most of the beaches were closed to the public due to the federal government shutdown.
The shutdown officially began at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and by daylight Park Service personnel were already erecting barricades and chaining ocean and soundside beaches, according to the Island Free Press.
Here is what is open and closed on the national seashore, based on info from the Island Free Press :
- All ramps on the seashore – on the oceanside and the soundside – are chained or blocked.
- All visitor centers and maintenance and administrative facilities are closed.
- The road to the Bodie Island Lighthouse is barricaded. The Lighthouse Road in Buxton is blocked just beyond Flowers Ridge Road.
- All ORV permit offices are closed.
- All parking areas on the soundside and the oceanside have been closed and secured – including facilities at Coquina Beach, Ocracoke Day Use Area, Canadian Hole, Kite Point, the Frisco Bathhouse, and Sandy Bay day use area. Also closed and secured are all parking areas at various oceanside ramps on Hatteras and Ocracoke.
- Campers have until 6 p.m. to leaved the campgrounds.
- Commercial operations within the seashore are also closed. The Avon Pier closed at noon, and the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center will close at 6 p.m. Thursday. (The Rodanthe Pier remains open because the owners no longer have a Park Service concession since the pier, after erosion, is no long on seashore property.)
- The three airstrips in the park area will be closed.
- All National Park Service websites are closed down, and visitors to the sites will get a message about the shutdown.
In Pea Island and other refuges visitor centers are closed and public access is not allowed on the beaches and trails.
In a news release today refuge manager Mike Bryant explained further, “This means all public uses of these national wildlife refuges cease completely — no hunting or fishing– even hunts for which people have been issued special permits, like the Pungo Hunt scheduled for this week.”
“It means no birdwatching, no walking on the beaches or trails, and no driving to see bears. It means that these federally-owned lands are closed. The closure also includes Visitor Centers and offices. For refuge employees, it means no work. No checking e-mails, no posting on web pages, no management activities, and no public programs — on or off the refuge. The few Refuge staff we have working will be limited to activities that protect of life and property or communications internally concerning the closure.”
Store owners report frustration from visitors and residents alike.
People have to get creative about water access, and in Ocracoke need to know someone with private sound-side access. The 16 miles of beach and all of the soundside access not in Ocracoke village are on National Park Service land.
On Tuesday a tourism post was published in desperate attempt to remind people that Ocracoke Village still offers plenty, and that the economy is dependent the tourism industry.
“I’m among the lucky ones who can go to the beach any time,” islander Robin Turner told reporter Irene Nolan. “But how unfortunate for those here on their vacations and to not be able to utilize the very reason they came.”
Read more on Island Free Press.