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DISTANCE CASTING SPONSOR
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Starting now a 40.00 per year access fee and no beach access after dark. No public hearings and no input from the ones that actually use the beach. I don't have a problem with the fee but the day use only rule is a problem. The best fishing there is at dusk and after dark.

Anyone willing to join me in a letter wrting campain???

Tommy
 

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This was posted by Megabite on Fishmojo.

Fort Fisher - The new fees don't bother Steve Labanec. The owner of Seagull Bait & Tackle in Carolina Beach figures most people will adjust to paying to drive on the miles of beach open to four-wheel-drive vehicles at Fort Fisher.

But the park's new hours have him very concerned. He worries that closing the beach at sunset will send fishermen and tourists away and drive partyers to the already overloaded and unstable north end of Carolina Beach – the closest alternative for off-roaders.

"That up there is a time bomb," he said. "And the fuse is getting real short with it."

His prescience will be tested soon enough. Beginning Sunday, the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area will implement two significant changes to its 4-mile-long driving beach.

First, it will begin charging to drive on to the beach – $40 for a season permit or $10 for a day.

Second – and more controversially – the beach will begin closing its gates from around sunset to 8 a.m. Fort Fisher has been open 24 hours a day.

There are many reasons for the changes, state officials say. On one level, the fees are part of a statewide price hike designed to raise money.

At nearby Carolina Beach State Park, for example, camping fees will increase from $12 to $15, while the cost of picnic shelters will jump from $50 to $60 a day.

But the annual $37,000 the state anticipates from Fort Fisher's fees is hardly the main force behind the changes, said Charlie Peek, spokesman for the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

More importantly, the new rules are an attempt to protect an environmentally sensitive area that is home to such rare species as the endangered loggerhead sea turtle and the piping plover shorebird, Mr. Peek said.

On summer weekends, trucks line up to get on the beach after the bars close, and rangers have had problems with litter, vandalism and even looting of turtle eggs, said Mike Seigh, park superintendent.

Even well-behaved users can cause problems, leaving tracks that discourage turtles from laying eggs and trapping hatch-lings. Vehicle lights can also disorient the animals, Mr. Peek said.

And with no ranger on duty at night, the gate closing will keep inexperienced drivers from getting stuck in the sand or flipping with no help around, he said. Last weekend, the roof of a red Ford Explorer was crushed after the vehicle turned over in the sand, Mr. Seigh said.

But for Mr. Labanec, the changes will needlessly punish fishermen, who he considers some of the best stewards of the land. Prime fall fishing occurs at night – and the 8 a.m. start will really hurt. By that time, many fishermen would have been out for hours.

He predicted that longtime regulars will abandon Pleasure Island, going to places such as Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where driving on the beach remains free and continuously open.

Much nearer, Surf City and Topsail Beach also may make attractive alternatives since both allow beach driving in the fall and winter. The Onslow County access on the north tip of Topsail Island allows 24-hour driving all year long.

"As a business owner, it will kill us," said Robert Schoonmaker, who runs Carolina Explorer, a charter boat service. Many of his clients are Fort Fisher surf fishers looking for a little variety on their vacations, he said.

Others don't see such a threat. Pleasure Island – with its beaches, aquarium, Civil War sites and riverside attractions – has a much broader appeal, as demonstrated by the building boom in Kure Beach and Carolina Beach. And a better-managed beach may only increase demand.

Kip Darling, who owns three motels in the area, predicted some decrease in traffic, but said fishermen did not make up a majority of his business, although he favored their cause.

Dennis Barbour, mayor of Carolina Beach and owner of Island Tackle and Hardware, said he doesn't foresee a big business impact for an island with diverse attractions.

Others predict the real unintended consequences of Fort Fisher's new hours may be felt on the other side of Pleasure Island.

The north end of Carolina Beach is a mix of town, private and county property that is a magnet for four-wheel-drive vehicles. On holiday weekends, they pack the narrow, two-mile spit almost as if it were a parking lot.

With limited law enforcement, large crowds and widespread drinking, the beach is seen by many as no-man's land that needs to be controlled, as much for safety as for environmental preservation.

"The north end of Carolina Beach is a tragedy waiting to happened," said Nancy Pritchett, a New Hanover County commissioner.

Harry Gierszewski, who fishes the north end, fears the extra pressure from Fort Fisher's nightly closing could force restrictions on the north end, too.

"It's on pins and needles up there," he said. "That's going to be a big issue this summer."

Mr. Barbour, Carolina Beach's new mayor, said he didn't see much of a problem. Late-night visitors who came from Fort Fisher would come after the bulk of the north end crowds have left.

From an environmental perspective, a few more trucks couldn't do any more damage, said Walker Golder, deputy director of Audubon North Carolina. He thinks the area should be closed to vehicles.

"The north end of Carolina Beach is totally and completely overrun with vehicles and a few more is not going to make any difference," he said.

Speculations aside, what is certain is that next week, the rangers at Fort Fisher will begin checking for the passes and closing the gates. Mr. Seigh said they would focus on informing people rather than fining them. Violators will be told to go to the office and buy a pass, he said.

Although officially the rules kick in Sunday, Mr. Seigh said they wouldn't be enforced until next Monday.

Sam Scott: 343-2370

[email protected]
 

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that

S U C K S. little bro, who do i write to complain. i've already promised conn a fort fisher trip during the southeast regionals.
charlie
 

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I agree with sending a letter or some kind of pettion. I spend many night at the south end of Pleasure Island. The North end while always a good time has nowhere near the fishing.
 

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WHO DO I NEED TO COMPLAIN TOO!!!!!!
 

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DISTANCE CASTING SPONSOR
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Discussion Starter #8
I borrowed this from another board. contact numbers included.

Closing of Ft. Fisher
For those of you who are concerned about what essentially amounts to the closing of our state park to fishermen, I urge you to write the legislators below. Those of you who will call, even better.

There are numerous issues with this new rule not to mention the lack of a public hearing or due process.

I have already written and I will try to call next week. I will be trying to set up a meeting with McComas and Stiller.

Wish me luck, and please help by writing, calling, or both.

BW


[email protected] (919) 715-2525 (Patrick Ballantine)
[email protected] 919-733-5786 (Danny McComas)
[email protected] 919-733-5974 ( Bonner Stiller)
 

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I just wrote our reps and suggested they use the new 4x4 revenue to pay a third shift wildlife officer to patrol at night .Oops! that might justify the fees .

Finally In Saltwater Heaven
 
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