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Entries in public access (45)

Thursday
Dec182014

Senate Moves to Restore Cape Hatteras Access

There’s good news regarding the  restrictive and unnecessary limitations placed on Cape Hatteras access by the National Park Service a few years ago. The Senate has included the “Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act” in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2015.

I hate it that we have a federal government that puts public lands measures in a defense bill, but, hey, that’s the bureaucratic world that we live in.

Here’s what the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation says:

After almost three years of the National Park Service restricting off-road vehicles (ORVs) across extensive areas on the National Seashore, residents and visitors alike, especially sportfishing enthusiasts, should welcome the passage of this legislation and continue to engage in the process to ensure that a balanced science-based strategy with proper access is promoted moving forward. 

One of the premier surf fishing locations in the country, Cape Hatteras attracts two million visitors each year who rely on ORV access to the park for surf fishing opportunities from the beaches as well as for general recreational activities. Unfortunately undue closures implemented in 2012 for ORVs to culturally significant and recreationally important areas have negatively impacted the local economy which depends upon recreation and tourism.

The Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act would begin the process of restoring access to these important areas by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to “review and modify wildlife buffers in the National Seashore.” The Act mandates modifications using peer-reviewed data to ensure that only the smallest areas and shortest duration for wildlife buffers are implemented and that closed areas utilize corridors to allow access to surrounding open areas. Specifically, the Secretary, through a public process, is required to consider lifting unreasonable night driving restrictions, extending seasonal ORV routes, modifying the size and location of vehicle-free areas, and constructing new vehicle access sites. 

While the passage of the Act is certainly a major step in the right direction, the language leaves significant discretion to the Secretary of the Interior.  Moving forward, the recreational angling community should remain diligent in monitoring and engaging in the process to ensure recreational pursuits and access are properly balanced with resource management.

Monday
Dec152014

Potomac River Public Access Threatened

In October, 2014 an official with the National Park Service declared the walkway to the Fletcher’s Cove boat dock unsafe for public use, effectively cutting off access to the Potomac River from publicly available row boats, canoes and kayaks. The walkway, which once floated at the lowest tide, is now grounded and compromised by siltation. Unless immediate action is taken, there is a strong possibility the dock will stay closed next spring.

The continued operations of the Fletcher’s Cove concession as we now know it may be at stake. To ensure continued access to the dock in the spring of 2015, ACTION MUST BE TAKEN NOW. PLEASE mail and/or email the NPS expressing your concern and asking that it expedite a plan to save access to the river at this location.

Mailing address: Kevin Brandt Superintendent,  C&O Canal National Historical Park Headquarters Office, 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown, MD 21740-6620

Send your email request to  C&O Canal NHP Headquarters.

What follows provides more historical information and explains how we have reached this critical point in time. Please share this document or its link to anyone who will support this effort and also sign our petition to preserve river access at the boathouse.

The Potomac near its fall line has long been a cherished natural resource for the entire region. Providing access to the river since before colonials arrived, the area known as Fletcher’s Cove is a natural wonder within the boundaries of what would become the nation’s capital. Archeological digs have shown that Native Americans used this location to harvest and store fish and grain. The reliably deep water of the tidal cove also served as the first river access point for George Washington’s “Patowmack Canal.”

Early in our nation’s history, Andrew Jackson was rowed in a boat from this spot to fish for striped bass under Chain Bridge. After the Civil War the Fletcher family established a boathouse  which allowed every man to enjoy this unique location for recreation and to partake in the bounty of the “Nation’s River.”

Over a century later and now part of the C&O Canal Historical Park, Fletcher’s Cove continues to draw visitors of from all over the world. The park and boathouse there today are precious Washington, DC landmarks for residents and tourists alike.

Siltation has been a growing problem at Fletcher’s for many decades, and it is largely a manmade condition. Traditional agricultural practices and overdevelopment upstream have played an obvious role by increasing the sediment runoff. The cove’s problems worsened after the construction of Metro and the Dulles Interceptor Sewer in the 1960’s.  Excavated soil was dumped at the river’s edge just north of Fletcher’s Cove, with the intention of creating a more sheltered area for Fletcher’s Cove.

It was soon discovered that seasonal flooding deposited increased amounts of silt where it previously did not settle. The cove began to fill in at an alarming rate. In the early 1980’s a narrow channel was dug to improve flow, but it hit bedrock, often clogged with debris, and was deemed ineffective. Dredging projects that have been attempted only temporarily addressed the problem. The cove continues to fill in.

Not only is Fletcher's Cove an historic gem and a unique and vital resource for the outdoors person, but it is the ONLY access point for D.C. Fire and Rescue, Montgomery County Rescue and the D.C. Harbor Police from Georgetown to the dangerous Little Falls area. If access is closed off at this location, then response abilities to the frequent emergency incidents in the area will be severely compromised.

 To increase awareness, a coalition of river enthusiasts has drafted this statement to inform the public. It’s well worth repeating we need your help to encourage officials with The National Park Service and the C&O Canal National Historical Park to implement a solution that will maintain the boathouse and provide access to the river from Fletcher's Cove by next spring. Please help get the word out by sharing this statement with others and asking them to reach out. The following individuals and organizations currently endorse this effort. If you would like to join us and be added to this list, please fill out this petition to save river access at Fletcher’s Cove

Thanks to your support we have increased awareness. The NPS issued this C&O Canal National Historical Park News Release  announcing a public hearing on Dec. 17. Please continue to sign and spread the word.

Monday
Jun092014

Missouri Opposes Federal Plan to Restrict River Access

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Sometime this summer, a new management plan will be rolled out for two of the Ozarks’ prime smallmouth streams, the Jacks Fork and the Current Rivers. They are part of the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) managed by the National Park Service (NPS).

The NPS’s preferred alternative of four options is “B,” which includes access restrictions. Among them would be a ban on motorboats for the upper portions of the rivers.

Rowdy behavior, illegal camping, and unauthorized trails, especially in recent years, contributed to consideration of reduced access.

But the proposal has been vigorously opposed by many in Missouri, including state politicians, especially after the NPS tried --- and failed --- to have the White River watershed declared a federal “Blueway.”

“The rivers zone themselves. There isn’t enough river flow in the upper reaches of the Jacks Fork and Current for big boats to get there,” said Jack Peters of Running River Canoe Rental. “From what I’ve seen, there is no conflict there.”

In a letter to the NPS, 23 state senators said the following:

“We support the ‘no-action alternative’ to the current operating system. The ONSR value to the region is unparalleled. Do not adopt a GMP (general management plan) that is contrary to our wishes, those of our constituents, and the other folks who depend on access to the Riverways and cannot operate with additional government regulations.

“In our opinion, the ONSR is already over-managed with burdensome federal regulations. The Riverways support a vibrant and growing tourism industry that is critical to our region and state.”

Additionally, some even called for the state to take over management.

 “The creation and management of parks is clearly a responsibility that Missouri handles well. There is no reason to believe it would be any different with a state-managed Ozark Scenic Riverways. It's time for Missouri to begin efforts to reclaim this resource from the federal government,” said Lieutenant Gov. Peter Kinder.

Monday
Apr212014

'Ecosystem Management' Is Tactic to Restrict Fishing

Passed in 1973, the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) was much needed. Before then, we have given little regard to the damage that we were doing to fish and wildlife through pollution, habitat destruction, and overharvest. The gray wolf, the shortnose sturgeon, the whooping crane, and the American crocodile are but a few of the species brought back from the brink.

But soon environmental activists discovered that they could use the act to impose preservationist agendas, under the guise of saving endangered species. They started suing the federal government to force action.

As a result, the ESA now has become a polarizing force, as examples abound of the federal government abusing its power to seize and/or deny use of privately owned lands and waters. Sadly, some property owners even practice “shoot, shovel, and shut up” as a means of protecting themselves.

And now the environmentalists, financed by Pew Charitable Trusts, want to use the same tactic to restrict fishing by imposing “ecosystem-based fisheries management.” It’s simply the ESA by another name, with the focus on our waters.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance reports this Pew strategy:

“Ecosystem-based fisheries management could ensure the long-term health of our fisheries and the communities that depend on them for recreation, employment, and nutrition," with environmental advocates describing the vague term as a system to "account for the protection of important habitats, consider the critical role of prey, or forage fish, in the food web, and reduce the waste of non-target species through bycatch."

And in response, Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, says this:

"Pew Charitable Trusts wants ecosystem protections put into the federal fisheries law. That way they've got a legal argument to sue and settle for increased fisheries restrictions.

"Under such a nebulous ecosystem definition, Pew and their partners would then have a legal challenge to close down any recreational fishery they choose by claiming the need to protect sea lice, spearing, oyster toads, undersea corals, even jellyfish."

In May, Pew will hold a forum for Connecticut anglers in what RFA calls the “Hijacking America” tour.

“The Pew script explains how ecosystem plans should be created and implemented across our coasts to further integrate ecosystem considerations into management, while appealing for support for incorporating ecosystem-based fishery management policies into federal law by way of changes to MSA (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Event organizers are hyping ecosystem-based management as yet another ‘new approach’ to fisheries management in their war on recreational fishing,” RFA says.

Go here to learn more about this and how Pew, according to RFA, is trying to recruit recreational anglers “willing only to speak positively about federal fisheries management policies that have denied anglers access to healthy, rebuilt stocks like summer flounder, black sea bass, and porgy.”

Wednesday
Mar122014

Many Oppose NPS Plan to Restrict Ozarks Access

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Sometime this summer, a new  management plan will be rolled out for two of the Ozarks’ prime smallmouth streams, the Jacks Fork and the Current Rivers. They are part of the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) managed by the National Park Service (NPS).

The NPS’s preferred alternative of four options is “B,” which includes access restrictions. Among them would be a ban on motorboats for the upper portions of the rivers.

Rowdy behavior, illegal camping, and unauthorized trails, especially in recent years, contributed to consideration of reduced access.

But the proposal has been vigorously opposed by many in Missouri, including state politicians, especially after the NPS tried --- and failed --- to have the White River watershed declared a federal “Blueway.”

“The rivers zone themselves. There isn’t enough river flow in the upper reaches of the Jacks Fork and Current for big boats to get there,” said Jack Peters of Running River Canoe Rental. “From what I’ve seen, there is no conflict there.”

In a letter to the NPS, 23 state senators said the following:

“We support the ‘no-action alternative’ to the current operating system. The ONSR value to the region is unparalleled. Do not adopt a GMP (general management plan) that is contrary to our wishes, those of our constituents, and the other folks who depend on access to the Riverways and cannot operate with additional government regulations.

“In our opinion, the ONSR is already over-managed with burdensome federal regulations. The Riverways support a vibrant and growing tourism industry that is critical to our region and state.”

Additionally, some even called for the state to take over management.

 “The creation and management of parks is clearly a responsibility that Missouri handles well. There is no reason to believe it would be any different with a state-managed Ozark Scenic Riverways. It's time for Missouri to begin efforts to reclaim this resource from the federal government,” said Lieutenant Gov. Peter Kinder.