ACCESS UPDATE AT SOUTH POINT OCRACOKE
Contact: Outer Banks Group, (252) 473-2111
Heavy rain swept through the South Point of Ocracoke on Sunday, July 23, 2006 complicating National Park Service (NPS) efforts to reopen off-road vehicle (ORV) access to South Point during daylight hours. NPS biological technicians were unable to find the chick after the rainstorm had passed. The area remained closed all day Sunday, July 23, and will remain closed Monday, July 24 while intensive monitoring efforts continue.
South Point on Ocracoke Island had been closed to all access 0.8 mile south of Ramp 72 since July 12, 2006 when a brood of three piping plover chicks hatched at a nest on the oceanside shoreline. The chicks subsequently moved to a foraging area on the soundside shoreline, two chicks were lost, and as of July 21 one chick remained in the same general area. On Friday, July 21, 2006, Outer Banks Group Superintendent Mike Murray announced that effective the same day the NPS would open a daytime access pass-through corridor to South Point along the ocean shoreline. Access would be permitted from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Reopening has been contingent upon NPS staff finding the chick each morning before the pass-through corridor is reopened. Daylight access was reopened on Friday and Saturday, July 21 and 22.
“We regret the inconvenience and uncertainty the current situation has caused park visitors,” said Superintendent Mike Murray, “but believe we must err on the side of caution in protecting the piping plover chick. The situation is day-to-day and likely will be resolved one way or another in the next few days. We will continue our intensive monitoring efforts and reopen access as soon as we think it is prudent to do so.”
Piping plovers are protected under the Endangered Species Act and are federally listed as a Threatened species.
Did You Know?
In the 1700s, Ocracoke Inlet was one of the busiest inlets in the East. It was one of the few navigable waterways for ships accessing inland ports such as Elizabeth City, Edenton or New Bern. It was here that Blackbeard the pirate found the inlet's heavy shipping traffic ripe for easy pickings.