June 26, 2008

Protected Areas of Inlet Expanded After Vandalism

The Virginian-Pilot

Three areas closed off to protect shorebirds near Oregon Inlet have been expanded after someone in an off-road vehicle ran down fencing and carved "doughnuts" in the sand over the weekend.

The damage was found Sunday in protected areas south of Ramp 4 on Bodie Island Spit, a National Park Service statement said.

A sign was destroyed and an investigating ranger found "obvious evidence of tire spin-out tracks in the sand, including zigzagging across the beach, 'doughnut' tire marks, and evidence of sand thrown considerable distances," the statement said.

It's the third such incident since a consent decree settled a lawsuit in which environmental groups had challenged the management of beach driving in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The decree requires that closures be expanded by 50 meters if anyone deliberately disturbs or harasses wildlife or vandalizes fences, nests or plants.

Someone found guilty of destruction of federal property and entering a resource closure is subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and up to six months imprisonment for each violation, the statement said.

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