Aye yae yae…

Here are the court mandated rules, people: deliberate acts of vandalism to closure areas or wildlife harassment result in mandatory expansion of affected closure areas… 50 meters expansion the first time, another 100 meters the second time, and 500 meters more for every additional incident!

I’m not too sure about the constitutionality of these rules (punishing everyone for one anonymous act of vandalism). Any lawyers out there know anything about that? Regardless, those are the rules right now, so that’s what we’re dealing with.

Anyway, here’s a press release sent out by the Park Service:

Vandalism of Resource Protection Closure Signs Results in Expansion of Buffer

Vandalism of symbolic fencing marking a shorebird closure in the South Beach area of Cape Hatteras National Seashore was discovered early Saturday morning. Approximately 1.7 miles east of Ramp 49, a park ranger patrolling the area discovered and documented twelve posts with “Area Closed” signs broken off at the sand line and several carsonite closure markers pulled out at the shoreline. During the investigation, two sets of footprints were found along the edge of the fence line that extended from the dunes to the waters edge. No footprints or tire tracks were observed entering the closed area which was established to protect a least tern colony; no birds appeared to have been disturbed during the act of vandalism. As prescribed in the court ordered Consent Decree, this closure violation resulted in a mandatory expansion of the closure area by 50 meters to the west.

The recent court approved Consent Decree related to shorebird and sea turtle protection at the Seashore requires the National Park Service to automatically expand the closure area by 50 meters if a confirmed deliberate act disturbs or harasses wildlife or vandalizes fencing, nests, or plants. Park staff documented the site and expanded the closure as ordered in the Consent Decree.

Superintendent Mike Murray reiterated the need for all parties to meet the Consent Decree requirements. “I urge everyone to consider that future acts of intentional vandalism to resource protection areas will result in greater expansion of the buffers. These expansions are not discretionary under the Consent Decree,” stated Murray.

For more information about closures at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and visitor opportunities, visit the park’s webpage at www.nps.gov/caha .