Minor damage reported in the national parks during shutdown

Published 5:16 pm Monday, January 21, 2019

During the partial federal government shutdown, some damage and misuse has occurred in the three national parks in Dare County.

Generally, the vast majority of visitors to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore have been law abiding and respectful of the national parks, reports Eastern North Carolina National Parks Superintendent Dave Hallac in response to a series of emailed questions. Those employees on duty have been able to manage problems.

Some beach drivers have driven in vehicle free areas. Signage delineating off road vehicle routes has been damaged, but the cause of the damage has not been determined. The damaged signage was fixed by National Park Service rangers.

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The restrooms at Haulover, between Avon and Buxton, have been broken into four times with only minimal damage. Human feces has been left outside restrooms at Whalebone Junction and Salvo Day Use Area.

At this time, Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches are open to walkers and permitted beach drivers may drive in designated routes. The opening is at the discretion of the superintendent. In some past shutdowns, beach access ramps have been chained to prohibit access.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site has experienced illegal digging or excavation by relic hunters. An active investigation is underway.

An active investigation is also underway about illegal activity at Wright Brothers National Memorial.

Deadlines are fast approaching for springtime work in the national parks. For example, bio-techs are not working on pre-nesting sites for seashore areas. Job offers for seasonal workers cannot be extended.

But Dare’s community organizations are reaching out with assistance.

The Beach Food Pantry serving the northern beach communities offers two weeks of free groceries and members of the Coast Guard and National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service are starting to visit the pantry. A donor is providing $25 Harris Teeter gift cards for U.S. Coast Guard clients of the Beach Food Pantry.

On Hatteras Island, the Cape Hatteras Food Pantry in Buxton and the Lifeline Outreach OBX Food Pantry in Salvo are also helping.