Just in time for beach season, a portion of Cape Hatteras National Seashore is closed.
Officials made the decision to close an area on Cape Point for an unspecified amount of time to protect nesting shorebirds.
Local business owners are not happy about this. They say Cape Point is a big part of what draws people to the area and to have it close right before Memorial Day is really disappointing.
If you ask someone who knows a thing or two about fishing, they’ll tell you it doesn’t get much better than Cape Point.
“The tip of Cape Point has the best fishing by far. Always has been. Specially for drum and blue fish and things like that,” explained Billy Dillon, who owns the Outer Banks Motel in Buxton.
This past Friday, Cape Hatteras National Seashore officials temporarily closed 0.4 miles of Cape Point to protect the nesting Least Tern, a type of bird who likes to nest on remote sandy beaches. The small section of beach is very popular with tourists.
Billy Dillon says he’s not happy because his visitors are not happy.
“We had people who came last weekend to our motel furious that the point was closed,” said Dillon. “And even mad at us that we didn’t call them and tell them.”
Out at the beach, 10 On Your Side caught up with visitor Keith Lyons, who drove from Myrtle Beach to fish the point. He said he was a little mad when he first heard about the closure, but came anyway.
“Oh yes, no doubt. No doubt about it because you’ve got miles and miles of beach here to drive on you don’t have to fish the point the whole time,” said Lyons. “Most of the time it’s so crowded you can’t fish hardly anyway”
Keith Gray, who owns a restaurant called Diamond Shoals, says he’s already hearing from people unhappy about the temporary closure.
“I’ve had so many people come into my restaurant and tell me that they’re really upset and disappointed because they thought they were going to be able to go out to the point with their family and experience the experiences they had last year.”
Cape Point wasn’t closed last year, however, park officials say a portion of it has closed almost every year for almost a decade now to protect nesting birds.
Gray said he has nothing against birds, but he thinks there are enough protected places for them to nest on the Outer Banks without shutting down Cape Point.
Least terns are not an endangered species, but they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty act.
There’s no word on how long it will take reopen Cape Point, but park officials say they expect it won’t be until August.