Editor's Note

Editor's Note

Beach battle rages on; black swifts' uncertain future; presidential candidates keep mum.

By David Seideman
Published: September-October 2012

With halloween just around the corner, we are proud to present our own horror show, in three acts. The first takes place at scenic Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. Even though ORV drivers have miles and miles of beach to barrel along in their behemoth vehicles, the most noxious among them oppose any driving restrictions whatsoever that would protect beach-nesting birds--even if ignoring those rules means crushing imperiled piping plover and least tern chicks ("Beach Bullies," page 58). They have even posted this obscene sign near a school. Those responsible for this vulgarity, particularly the parents among them, must be so proud. Meanwhile, in an act of what passes for bipartisanship in Washington these days, shameless demagogues from both parties' North Carolina congressional delegation are trying to reverse the progress. Please go to "Speak Up" (page 66) to learn how you, your friends, and your family can defend the park service and the birds. 

David Seideman Photo
Photograph by Kim Hubbard
Editor-in-chief David Seideman

The second act occurs 2,000 miles away, where another bird species faces its own clouded future. From Colorado caves to Montana grizzly country, articles editor Alisa Opar reports on efforts to solve the riddle of one of the most secretive and fascinating birds on earth ("Out of the Shadows," page 42). What little is known about the black swift is that the speed at which it flies, often exceeding 100 mph, virtually parallels the speed at which its population is free-falling. Nor is the black swift fast enough to escape the twin threats to its wet and woodsy habitats: global warming and deforestation. If you live in the Rocky Mountain West, contact your local Audubon chapter to see if you can help search for nesting sites (only about 200 have been found so far). "It's the canary in the coal mine where climate change is concerned," notes one biologist. "We could see it blink out as the effects worsen."

Of course, as the world heats up, nightmarish scenarios loom not just for black swifts but for most living things. Alas, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney has uttered anything significant about the environment--or hardly any other issue, but that's another matter ("The Big Crackup," page 36). Our ailing economy is, understandably, what's on everyone's mind. Polls are showing that Americans' concerns about air and drinking water pollution have sunk to new lows, giving the candidates little reason to debate such issues as climate change or air and water pollution. For their part, green groups have been unable to break through with a "coherent, compelling message to rally voters," notes Brad Plumer, a reporter for The Washington Post. That's a real shame. For at the end of the day, aren't elections precisely the time to have an adult discussion about important matters? 

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Author Profile

David Seideman

David Seideman is the editor-in-chief of Audubon.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


Beware of false prophets & teachings

Dear Audubon and it's many readers/believers you must beware of false teachings and lies that have been portrayed to you about the REAL TRUTH of Hatteras Island beaches and wildlife.

First short background on me....I am a law enforcement officer that patrols the beaches daily inside the park and part of my job is for the preservation of wildlife and the environment so I'm not hole heartedly against destroying what God has gave us to utilize but rather keeping it here for those to enjoy now and in the future.

So now as Paul Harvey would say, "the rest of the story." Audubon would have you to believe that the noxious horror show is;

"ORV drivers have miles and miles of beach to barrel along in their behemoth vehicles, the most noxious among them oppose any driving restrictions whatsoever that would protect beach-nesting birds—even if ignoring those rules means crushing imperiled piping plover and least tern chicks"

This is certainly not the case. Again like I said I am on the beaches daily patrolling and these massive "behemoth" vehicles that Audubon speaks of is nothing more than your average 4x4 SUV or pick-up truck that you can get at your local dealership. As a side note Audubon would also have you believe that our beaches are easily accessible from a parking lot, or something to that nature, however truth is 90% of our beach is only accessible by vehicle driving to the location that suits you, our beaches are so remote that walking with all your beach gear,kids,elderly etc is just not feasible. Now yes there are a few vehicles, A FEW! that is, that have been modified to look good, lift kits, and slightly bigger tires to make riding OFF ROAD easier. However again these vehicles ARE NOT riding throughout the dunes or acting a fool on the beaches. 99% of beach drivers are orderly, respectful, and follow common rules of the road which also apply to beach driving, including the speed limits which are marked on the beaches at 15mph. Again I see these vehicles and observe the driving habits ON A DAILY BASIS, but others would have you believe that individuals are taking all their redneck jacked up, ridiculous vehicles out to the beach tearing it up, running thru the dunes (which are where the nesting beach birds are) and just showing complete disregard for the environment and its habitat, when in fact the real people out on the beach are families with young kids, elderly folks who peacefully drive out to the beach to sit and gaze at the beauty of sand and water, taking their daily naps in the truck just so they can get out of the house during the day and fathers bringing out smiles and giggles teaching their sons/daughters how to bait their hook and catch their first fish or in my case continuing to make life long memories with my father/grandfather relaxing and fishing on these remote beaches only accessible by vehicle. I urge you to visit this beautiful place we call Hatteras Island and really see for yourself exactly what I see, The Truth.

The truth is that there is compromise to protecting species here, that compromise doesn't want to be seen or heard from in the special interest groups which is really sad. It seems as if they would rather strong arm a small community, paint them in a negative light and disrupt the livelihoods of the island natives. I wish we could come together and reach some reasonable compromises but I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon b/c it seems as if all this mess is creating a nice monetary gain for the special interest groups involved. So again I urge you to not just read what Audubon would have you believe about our island but gather your family and come see and visit for yourself, talk with the locals to hear, see and live the TRUTH that is Hatteras Island,NC

Clear by some of the previous

Clear by some of the previous comments here that some people are just so wrapped up in their own existence that they cannot see out of the box. Interesting how they found the time and took the effort to post to this site. We obviously have a long way to go. Ignorance, greed and fear will always be with us. These are inherent human traits that can only be overcome by education, understanding and example. Let each of us strive to better spread the information and garner the necessary comprehension of the situation in order to leave this world a better place for future generations, regardless of species.

Lacking forethought

Seems to me that most of what I've read here in the comment section has been based off of emotion. The facts are that area is a fragile dwindling breeding habitat for several species, and as with most of mankind, people left unchecked wouldn't budge an inch to save a single species on this planet. One day homo sapiens will be the only one left...maybe then they'll be satisfied. Someone needs to protect the birds. It certainly seems like most people in that are just don't care.

Hey! Audubon Signs and decals

Mr. Editor,

What you fail to mention about the most "noxious" of your "3 act horror show" is what your actions have done to the human factor in this debacle. In order to protect birds, you seem to believe it is okay to sacrifice people. THAT is the true "horror show", especially when you consider how your actions have destroyed the livelihoods of so many people who have earned their livings from tourists coming to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for the awesome surf fishing that is so popular in that area. And, contrary to your statement, people don't just "barrel" their "behemoth" trucks up and down the beach to tear the beaches up, but to get them to the best fishing areas. If you've ever been on a beach, you will see how orderly beach drivers are. This has been going on for years with no peril to the birds.

Sure, you're going to have a couple of crazies anywhere you go but you act as if everyone is doing this. No sir....as a matter of fact, most of the residents of the Outer Banks have great love and respect for the wildlife of the area, and are watchful for those who are out of order.

For so many years the human and wildlife populations have lived in harmony with one another. And then, just a few years ago someone with clout from your organization decides that birds nesting along the Outer Banks must be "protected", while they never had to be before....and all at the cost of peoples' livelihoods.

You, on your own accord, stepped into something you should have stayed away from. There could have been another way to get your point across than to just "barrel" in and force new laws upon the human natives of the area. How would you like it if some out of towners came into your hometown and told you the laws were going to change, and if effect, change your lifestyle because you can no longer make a living the way you have been doing for so many years. Tell me you wouldn't stand up for what you believe and have spent your life doing. That, sir, is why you see these people protesting and putting up signs such as this. Since the beginning they have protested this intrusion but it wasn't getting across to the general public and so you go a little further to get your message out there.

And guess what.....the message is getting out there. Thousands of these decals have been purchased by tourists who come to this area for surf and charter fishing and word of the plight of the locals and your hands is getting out there.

You are encouraging people to go and protest and support the NPS for enforcing these restrictions. Sounds to me like you want a fight on your hands. I guarantee you...these people are here to protect their rights. You and your organization should stick with what you do best and stay out of peoples' lives and try to let people live their lives as they see fit. You are destroying people's lives.

You should be "very proud of yourselves".

" the most noxious among them

" the most noxious among them oppose any driving restrictions whatsoever that would protect beach-nesting birds—even if ignoring those rules means crushing imperiled piping plover and least tern chicks"

This kind of lie is prompts the response and signs. The "restrictions" for piping plovers and least terns also prohibit PEDESTRIAN access to the beach during the peak tourist season. Your organization promotes closures preventing even people from WALKING along the shoreline. There have always been bird closures, just not the total closure of beaches your organization seems to want. Your organization continually falsely claims that the changes the people want would have no protections. Again this lying is prompting this kind of response. If you told the truth and helped the NPS educate visitors and residents about the birds you wouldn't getting the negative attention you currently deserve. Your never going convince people that placing 1000 meter closures around birds is reasonable protection. Or that birds will be harmed by people walking along the shoreline.

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