Dome: Hagan-Burr want to roll back access limits at Cape Hatteras

bsiceloff@newsobserer.comApril 27, 2012 

North Carolina’s two U.S. senators announced legislation Thursday to roll back limits on beach driving – and walking – at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and a House subcommittee planned a hearing this morning on a similar bill filed earlier by U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones.

This spring the National Park Service started requiring anglers and other Outer Banks visitors to buy permits ($50 per week or $120 per year) for driving at beach locations where vehicles are still allowed. The new restrictions are the outgrowth of a lawsuit by environmental groups and a consent decree aimed mostly at protecting the nests of rare shorebirds. In recent weeks, the park service has closed some beach areas to pedestrians and vehicles after bird nesting was observed.

The Senate bill announced by Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan would restore less restrictive rules that were implemented in 2007. In a press release, Burr said: “Restricting ORV use on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore has a negative impact on local communities and the local economy. We must ensure that our state’s residents have access to North Carolina’s scenic treasures, and I am confident we can come to a compromise that allows people to have access while at the same time addressing any potential environmental concerns.”

Witnesses at the House subcommittee hearing Friday will include Jones, a National Park Service official, John Couch of the Outer Banks Preservation Association, and Warren Judge of the Dare County commissioners.

McCrory refuses to debate GOP rival

The major Democratic candidates have held countless forums and three live TV debates. The Republicans? None.

Sure, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory is the presumptive GOP nominee. And yes, his challengers are mounting low-budget, low-visibility campaigns. But at least one Republican rival is challenging McCrory to a debate.

Paul Wright, a former Superior Court judge, is positioning himself as the real conservative in the race. And he is worried conservatives are being neglected as McCrory focuses on a November matchup against the Democrats.

“What’s good for Democrats is good for Republican voters,” he said of debates. “I do think some of the positions that are dear to the conservatives won’t even get heard without a debate.”

Wright invited McCrory to a debate days ago, but McCrory declined. No media organization has stepped forward to offer the debate. It’s worth noting that not all Democratic candidates were included in the TV debates but that some forums featured most of the candidates.

McCrory’s campaign spokesman Brian Nick responded – by focusing on November: “The three Democrats running for governor have been auditioning for the role of who is best to continue the failed policies of Governor Perdue. In contrast, Pat will continue to travel the state to discuss his successful record of working with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, as well as his plan to fix our state’s broken economy, broken government, and bring about the necessary reforms to our education system.”

N.C. GOP convention gets Pawlenty

The all-star lineup for the N.C. Republican Party convention is adding another name: one-time Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty.

The former Minnesota governor, who left the presidential race after just four months, will address the GOP faithful at a luncheon June 2. Donald Trump is the headline speaker at the convention Friday evening. And more big-name guests are expected to be announced in coming weeks, including a keynote speaker Saturday.

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