Storied Hatteras Island is threatened with depopulation the modern way.
(Page 2 of 2)
Elsewhere in the curriculum, students are given reading assignments that include a pair of news articles from 2003. One describes a local state senator as “one of the state’s most powerful politicians,” with the audacity to work on behalf of his constituents. The second features a Duke University geologist explaining to children that, “Very powerful and very wealthy people live along the beaches. The politically correct thing to do is rush in and help these people who have suffered from an act of God.” (Pages 111-113)
It is true that many houses on the Outer Banks are owned by families who live out of the immediate area. It is also true that these beach homes generate roughly half of the $49.3 million in real estate taxes listed in the 2011 Dare County budget. Providing better schools and services to Hatteras islanders through taxes on people who don’t utilize them on a day-to-day basis constitutes a win-win for all concerned. As for repairs to Highway 12, villagers and contractors need it for work, school, emergency trips to the hospital and clearing the aftereffects of storms; not exactly the “very powerful” people described to middle school kids.
Placing Environmentalism Above
Geologists aren’t alone in targeting Highway 12. The SELC, the Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and other environmentalists have waged a lengthy campaign to close or restrict access to the island’s beaches, prized attractions for islanders and visiting tourists. So far, they have enjoyed remarkable success in preventing people from using many of the beaches on Hatteras. In some cases, strolling along the water’s edge or reading a novel in a beach chair are now illegal. Frustration with environmental activism is so acute, Dare County Commissioner Jack Shea penned a 2010 opinion piece lamenting “a forgotten and ignored endangered species,” in the region: people.
The patina of ecological altruism dissolves as human consequences surface. Hatteras Island residents and business owners marked the first day of spring this year by staging a rally and protest march to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, drawing attention to the economic hardships they face as a result of environmental restrictions.
Among the newest restrictions is the requirement that anybody wishing to drive an off-road vehicle on Hatteras beaches — a decades-old pastime for picnickers, surfers and fishermen — must undergo a National Park Service (NPS) instructional program and pay a permit fee. The program is designed to protect bird habitat but the new restrictions have already proved frighteningly inflexible.
On April 4, 19 families found themselves trapped by a lunar tide along Cape Point. Caught between the rising ocean and a protected bird area with no place to drive, the NPS denied permission for the families to maneuver their off-road vehicles five feet inside a bird area. One father relayed the story of his harrowing escape from the tide while his two young children wept and vomited in fear.
The economic implications are no less fearful. Bob Eakes, owner of Red Drum Tackle in the village of Buxton, told the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot newspaper in January, “We have had a tremendously huge loss from the (National) Park Service rules.” How bleak is the future for Eakes’ and his tackle shop? “I just don’t know if I can stay in business.”
Unlike the questionable economic pronouncements of geologists, the plight of these villagers does not merit the attention of newspapers in New York or Los Angeles.
Life on a Sandbar; Not All It’s Cracked-Up to
Hatteras Island rose from the sea thousands of years ago and the Atlantic will likely reclaim it, and Highway 12, at some point. Whether this reclamation occurs over the next couple of decades or the next couple of millennia is anyone’s guess. Professor Riggs and others are convinced that the island’s geological clock is about to strike midnight, and their certitude rivals that of a Time magazine cover from April, 1977 which informed us on how we may forestall the coming Ice Age. (Whatever it was they wrote, it must have worked.)
But this belief in the imminent doom of Hatteras Island, whether by accident or design, gives aid and comfort to environmentalists promoting policies that are killing the island’s economy. The apparent target is Highway 12 but that is conveyance for a broader goal of forcing people from their homes without optics akin to those of Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during World War II.
Those who live on Hatteras understand the sometimes tenuous nature of living on a barrier island, as well as the joy of being in one of America’s most unique and storied places, a joy reflected in part by the popular “Life on a Sandbar” memorabilia sold to tourists. Hatteras islanders also possess a deep knowledge of the sea and the skies and the shifting sand, which holds them in good stead when the winds stiffen and shift to the northeast. But it does them little good in confronting the array of political forces that are now bearing down on them and the road that takes them home.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?