This week’s Link Love is chock full of all sorts of good OBX info. Good wild horse news, multiple top 10 lists, breaking news on the beach driving issue, nature, gardens…lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!
Lets get to it!
As I mentioned last week, I like to get the not-so-great news out of the way first so we can focus on the positive.
It’s part of nature, but it’s always sad to see a beached whale. This story doesn’t offer too much detail, but you can get the basic gist; a deceased whale washed up in Nags Head this week. I guess it’s the Circle of Life, but always a bit heartbreaking.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to some goodies…
The Outer Banks lands on two Top 10 lists this week…
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Coastal Living named the Outer Banks to their list of “Top 10 Romantic Escapes.” Their description is great: “The Outer Banks offers the most elementally “out there” experience of any bridge-accessible U.S. destination. Standing on a thin ribbon of sand, with the mainland out of sight over the western horizon and burly Atlantic Ocean waves thundering in from the east, you truly feel untethered from your everyday world. Such towns as Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills offer plenty of tourist pleasures. But it’s also easy to sneak away and find your own private stretch of beach, with vivid stars overhead, moonlight-silvered surf at your feet, the sea breeze tousling your hair―and magic ready to happen.”
The OBX also made Coastal Livings list of “Top 10 Shelling Beaches.” This one is particular to Ocracoke…But we’e all one big, happy family on the OBX.
How about a little wild horse love?
Check out this cool documentary video about “Alonso,” a Corolla wild horse that is being moved from the Corolla herd to the Ocracoke herd to help improve diversity.
Are you garden lover? History lover? All around lover of the OBX? Have you ever been to the Elizabethan Gardens? No?! It’s a must. So worth the trip. Here’s a great article that gives you a brief history of the Elizabethan Gardens, and as the title says, it “offers far more than greenery.”
The Outer Banks is one of the premier locations for birding. The OBX sits in a prime location that cross the migration paths of a wide variety of birds. This has been a slow year for birding though – I can’t speak from experience, but the article I’ll link to mentions it is probably due to the warm winter weather. However, even with a slow birding season, the OBX offers some rare gems, including a Golden Eagle!
Here’s a pretty interesting idea for all your OBX vacationers that return year after year…
Tired of lugging all of that OBX beach gear in your car year after year? How about a convenient storage “beach box” to keep your goods on the Outer Banks? Brilliant, right? Add that to the list of “why didn’t I think of that.”
Let’s close out with the heated topic of Outer Banks beach driving…but there’s a twist…some breaking news…
I agree that the new beach driving rules are no fun. I love the freedom to drive on the OBX beaches – it’s one of the many aspects that make the Outer Banks so special. However, here are some thoughts to consider…
The rules are similar to those already in place at other seashore parks.
Those fees — and an accompanying requirement to watch an educational video — aren’t unusual.
Tourism figures don’t reflect a downturn in overall visitors to the Outer Banks, despite the recession and a couple of wildfire-plagued summers.
The plan acknowledges the importance of beach driving and fishing to the local economy. Popular areas such as Cape Point, South Point and Bodie Island Spit will have ORV routes that are open at least seasonally.
Special-use permits will be available for commercial fishermen to reach some areas ordinarily closed to vehicles.
Park officials also plan to seek funding for additional ORV access ramps and to consider allowing businesses to offer beach and water shuttles to fishing areas.
Here’s this weeks love for all of the links I couldn’t get to. A bunch of local OBX news to pass on.
Enjoy the link love…
Congrats to local Outer Banks surfer, Kim Diggs for landing a full-page spread in the new Surfing magazine. Always great to see an OBX local hit the big time.
New Outer Banks bridge one step closer to being a reality. The final environmental impact study was just released for the Mid-Currituck bridge. What do you think, does the OBX need another bridge?
The Bodie Island Lighthouse restoration is back on! After almost a year in hiatus, the additional funding for the project has been approved, and work should start at the Lighthouse by late February. Hopefully we’ll be climbing to the top come fall!
The Coast Guard earned their pay this week, and hauled in a sailor from a sinking sailboat off of Hatteras.
There’s no doubt Lowe’s is on the OBX. And now that they are here, they are bringing 125 jobs with them.
Looks like NatGeo is going to do a feature on the Outer Banks. We have to wait until June to see it, but pretty cool.
Are you aware that the Outer Banks has some fantastic golf courses? And you can setup an OBX golf package so you can play them all! Sweet.
Check out this awesome story about a horse trainer working with the Outer Banks wild horses. The wild horse whisperer?!
Got any OBX Civil War artifacts? The Outer Banks History Center is on the hunt for OBX Civil War memorabilia for an upcoming exhibit.
The simple pleasure of fresh oysters help us OBX’ers make it through the chilly winter months. Extinction should not be an option, but according to a new study, wild oysters are well on their way.
A team of researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz have examined 144 locations in 40 regions around the world where the wild oysters once thrived. The study found that overall conditions are poor for many species of wild oysters – so poor that the team deemed wild oysters to be functionally extinct, which means they no longer play a significant role in the ecosystem.
Functionally extinct?! No significant role in the ecosystem?! This is may seem trivial at first glance, but this is huge. Oysters are not only tasty, but they are also vital to healthy ecosystems…at least they used to be. Oysters filter impurities from the water, and this natural filtering system helps keep fish populations healthy and helps prevent coastal erosion. Pretty key elements of a coastal community.
Oysters are fast disappearing as 85 percent of the reefs that they inhabit have been destroyed by disease and over-harvesting, and the Gulf oil spill did huge damage to the oyster population in the Gulf region. The researchers recommend ratcheting up efforts in reef conservation, fisheries management and controlling the spread of non-native shellfish.
But. To end on a positive note, with some increased awareness and adjustments to regulations, it’s still possible to bring wild oysters back from the brink of extinction. And from the perspective of the Outer Banks, we are happy to report that oyster season was pretty decent this year. Good enough in fact to place a local restaurant, Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar, on Eater.com’s list of top restaurants to enjoy the dwindling supply of wild oysters.
Sponsored by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. Wild Horse Days celebrates the presence and significance of the wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs living on the Currituck Outer Banks.
Activities will take place at the Wild Horse Museum, Currituck Heritage Park, and the Corolla Light Town Center.
Tuesday, July 6: Starting at 10 a.m. at the Wild Horse Museum:
Games and painting activities for kids of all ages; see beautiful silver jewelry being crafted by a local artisan, Lynne Wilson; enjoy a variety of food and sweet treats; wine tasting for adults; vote for your favorite wild horse photo for the 2012 calendar; hair braiding and face painting; live music; carriage rides.
Wednesday, July 7:Starting at 10 a.m. at Currituck Heritage Park:
10 a.m to 11 a.m.. – Kids (or adults!) ride the North Carolina State Horse,
the Colonial Spanish Mustang
11 – 11:20 Police K9 unit demonstration
11:20 – 11:45 Dressage demo on Cayuse Gold, a Colonial Spanish Mustang
11:45 – 12:15 Wild Horse Training demo by Mill Swamp Indian Horses
12:15 – 1:15 Colonial Spanish Mustang rides
1:15 – 1:35 Dressage demo
1:35 – 2:05 Wild Horse Training demo
2:05 – 3:00 Colonial Spanish Mustang rides
Animal Lover’s Assistance League will have adorable, adoptable pets.
Wednesday, July 7: Starting at 11 a.m. at Corolla Light Town Center:
Giant silent auction with over $10,000 worth of merchandise. Just to name a few:
One week at an oceanfront beach house in Whalehead ($3450 value)
Two night stay plus breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn ($500 value)
Wine Tasting for up to 18 people from Native Vine ($360 value)
Green fees for four at the Currituck Club ($400 value)
Portrait session and one 11×14 canvas portrait from Lorenz Fine Photography
Restaurant gift certificates from North Banks, Route 12, Mike Dianna’s Grill Room,
La Dolce Vita, Flying Dutchman and more
Gift certificates from Ocean Treasures, Farmer’s Daughter and more
Gift baskets from Bacchus, Corolla Wine Cigar and Gourmet, Lovie’s Kitchen
Lots of horse related items including a horse quilt from The Cotton Gin ($300 value), Barbara Livingston horse photos, ceramic horse lamp from Dolphin Watch Gallery
Games for children, music.
Thursday, July 8: Starting at 10 a.m. at the Wild Horse Museum: Games and painting activities for kids of all ages; see beautiful silver jewelry being crafted by
a local artisan, Lynne Wilson; enjoy a variety of food and sweet treats; wine tasting for adults; vote for your favorite wild horse photo for the 2012 calendar: hair braiding and face painting; music; carriage rides; pet a gentled Mustang.
Currently, there are eight companies operating tours that are comprised of 45 vehicles with the capacity to carry as many as 324 people. Permitted tour businesses include a golf cart tour in Corolla, two kayak tours along the Currituck Sound shoreline, and two Segway tours. In addition, a company with two 24-person buses is seeking a permit.
The drawback is that County Commissioners are finding it difficult to keep track of these budding businesses, and as a result, they are considering a moratorium on new horse tours to give an opportunity to assess the number of people on the tours and the number of vehicles.
The Outer Banks is one of the few locations to glimpse the magic of wild horses, and a balance must be struck between allowing access to these gorgeous animals and preserving the private setting for the horses…and the local residents.
These horses are believed to be the decendants of Spanish mustangs that would have first arrived to the OBX in the 1500s. The estimated population of wild horses is somewhere around 100 mustangs in Corolla, and about 140 in Carteret County.
People who have studied these amazing animals have realized that the group that is located in Corolla splits into smaller groups of a lead stallion, a few mares and a young horse. These horses have become one of the top attractions of tourists to the Outer Banks.
The great idea to name these majestic animals the state horse was thought of by students at Shawboro Elementary School in Currituck County. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law soon.
The size of the herd for the Outer Banks wild horses is regulated by state legislation, and the size has been a hotly discussed topic over the years. The current legislation places the limit of horses in the herd at 60, but many believe this limit is too low to preserve the horses health and longevity.
Many horse supporters are celebrating a bill that has been introduced by US Rep Walter Jones. The legislation, introduced last Wednesday, would require Federal and State government to form a new herd of horses that should not contain less than 100 horses in the Corolla area.
According the Karen McCalpin, director of the Corolla Wild Horse fund, the herd is too small. A genetic study that was conducted by Texas A&M University determined that the herd needs more horses to avoid genetic defects and protect the herd’s health and safety in the future. McCalpin said. “On Ocracoke Island (the herd) is down to less than 20. This (bill) is going to enable us to manage the herd at a genetically healthy number. Without genetic health you don’t have physical health.”
The bill still has quite a long way to becoming law, but Walter Jones getting his foot in the door with the bill is a big step toward the health and well-being of the wild horse population on the Outer Banks.
As of 2010, guided tours in search of the Outer Banks wild horses will have new regulations to comply with. Tours to see the OBX wild horses will be required to have permits, a guide, and a sign on the tour vehicle. Commissioners approved the requirements in September.
Two nonprofit companies have been issued their permits over the last week and four others have applied. In the past, driving in this area has been considered a nuisance to many residents of the Carova area, reporting trespassing and reckless driving. The goal of the newly adopted regulations is to increase safety for all the residents of the area, including the horses.
As a membership benefit, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund plans to offer a private tour in one vehicle driven by herd manager Wesley Stal-lings, “You’re going with the guy who sees these horses on a daily basis,” said Karen McCalpin, director of the nonprofit. “It’s almost like a National Geographic experience.”
A study to determine the effects of Corolla’s wild horses on the forests and wetlands of Eastern North Carolina will begin in early 2010. The study will span about two years and will be conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and North Carolina State University.
The researchers will explore the affects of grazing mammals – horses, feral pigs and deer – on the maritime forests, marshland and wet meadows within the study area by monitoring enclosures in which each of the species has been excluded. One fenced area, which has already been developed, excludes all three species.
The current wild horse herd count is around 100, 40 more than the number stated in a 1999 management plan. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund, set up 1989 by concerned citizens to heighten awareness of the presence of the wild horses in the area, is growing increasingly concerned about maintaining genetic diversity in the herd. The group unsuccessfully petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service last year to increase the herd size further to at least 120 to boost the gene pool.