Bruce and Sara as National Park Rangers at
Cape Hatteras National Seashore

June 7, 2006

A Lingering Controversy and Hope for a Resolution---June 7, 2006

We always thought the National Park Service was great .....and we thought everyone felt the way we did!

Afterall the NPS is preserving some of the most beautiful places in America, it is protecting some of the most important natural and historical resources in our country, and it is working with people everyday to help them appreciate the parks, to help them enjoy their vacations more, and help them learn more about nature, history, geology, and life in the wilderness.

Consequently, when we were offered jobs at Cape Hateras National Seashore, we were overjoyed! And we had visions of people happy to see us in NPS uniforms. When we made reservations at a nearby campground, we anticipated coming home at night in our uniforms and having parents, their children, and other campground visitors coming to spend time with us and asking friendly questions of the "Rangers."

What we didn't know and never expected.....was that there has been an ongoing controversy between the National Park Service and many local residents, and between the National Park Service and most surf fisherman----a controversy that erupted last summer!

Since our campground is used mostly by people interested in surf-fishing and since almost every tent, trailer, and motor home here has a four-wheel drive jeep, truck, or car with at least twenty fishing poles on top of it or in front of it, we quickly found our former presuppositions were wrong! Many fisherman here are bitter and angry about how the Park Service handled things last summer; many feel the Park Service abused its power; and some feel it acted irresponsibly. And when people are angry and upset, when they feel abused or mistreated, they tend to want to vent a little!

Unfortunately, the basic issues are fairly long-standing and complex and revolve around several basic questions:

Fortunately, after months of controversy last year,and probably some bad decisions by a series of interim superintendents, a new Park Superintendent was appointed and a "negotiated" rule-making process has begun. Slowly members of the local community, surf-fishermen and NPS staff are beginning to work together, and relationships are on the mend. And as we look towards the future, things are getting better.

Being the only seasonal employees who live "off base" and among the few full time staff who live in the Buxton community, we often are "working" and representing the NPS wherever we go---answering questions, mending fences and building bridges! And we may be succeeding..... for instance, in the campground, we are making friends and have been given freshly caught fish by some of our neighbors who are avid and dedicated surf-fishermen!

More importantly, people are talking to us, sharing more and more with us, and we are being introduced to others. Of course, we often are introduced as "Bruce and Sara who work as Park Rangers at the Lighthouse (in other words, not for the law enforcement group or the natural resource groups that enforced the beach closures last year!) Nevertheless, people know we work for the NPS and that's now OK!

Perhaps most importantly, we still are having fun! Everyday is getting busier, more people are coming, and we are getting better and better at answering questions (we may not know all the answers, but at least we sound convincing with those that we know!)

And at the end of the day, we really enjoy where we are and what we are doing. And we are glad we can enjoy again and again the sunsets and moon rises of Cape Hatteras!

A Cape Hatteras Moonrise!!

Go to the next page..... A Typical Day, the Staff, Our Volunteers, and Good News!

Return to opening page Bruce and Sara in Cape Hatteras

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