Busted! & NPS News

Jenny Scarborough

The entirety of February resulted in fewer warnings and violations than a typical summer week.

Ocracoke "was ghost town quiet without the ferry running," said Ranger Josh Vann of the National Park Service. A few visitors who made it to the island were educated about park regulations, with locals generally toeing the line. "Most everybody that I have had to talk to, I don't recognize," said Vann.

No violation notices were written in February for for not having the required ORV permit. A year after the $120 yearly or $50 monthly beach driving permits became the law, NPS enforcement officers continue to emphasize education over citations. Two verbal and five written warnings were issued for failure to purchase an ORV permit.

Photo courtesy of John Buie.
Photo courtesy of John Buie.
Click image to see more work by Buie.

"The Superintendent said that if it warrants a verbal or written warning, stick with that," said Vann. Repeat offenders or confrontational people may find they are in possession of a violation notice, a fee, and a court date.

Federal budget cuts will not change NPS Campground operations in 2013. The campground will "definitely be open in April, as normal," said Vann. A few seasonal maintenance workers, like Marcus O'Neal and Jeffrey Walters, may find their contracts slightly shortened this year. Other than that, and longer unpaid furloughs for rangers like Vann, "We really can't see too much effect yet," he said.

Who was caught being naughty on park land in February?

Two violation notices were written for off road vehicles in closed areas. One unlicensed driver received a ticket for not having an operators license.

A ranger happened across a visitor enjoying a beer on a golf cart at the airport ramp. The driver received a violation notice for having an open container, and a verbal warning for entering park land with an unregistered vehicle. For the umpteenth time, golf carts are not legal to drive outside the village limits.

One verbal warning was given for speeding, and one for unsafe operations. Five frolicking dogs caused their owners to be reminded of park leash laws, and one warning was written for a dog off leash.

A local business owner received a violation notice for operating a commercial venture on park land without a commercial use permit. He was given the NPS permit application, part of which requires that any businesses operating on federally regulated land have insurance.

The advent of early season is evident.

"There are more people coming. Just about every day I see one or two tourists out on the beach," said Vann.


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