Carteret County Surf Now

Carteret County Surf Now

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NC Beach Driver started this petition to Carteret County Elected Officials

CALL TO ACTION to STOP the DISCRIMINATORY and UNREASONABLE Recreational Water Access Restriction against the Bogue Banks Local Surfing and Water Sports Community NOW!

We, the undersigned, respectfully demand of the elected officials (herein known as the Officials) of the Towns of Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach, Emerald Isle and Carteret County (Salter Path), to immediately cease and desist and repeal the discriminatory recreational water access restriction (known herein as the Restriction) that was unfairly and without just cause placed against the persons of the surfing community in Carteret County.

“The Elected Officials of Carteret County, Towns of Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach, and Emerald Isle,” who enacted this discriminating restriction, have the authority to repeal this social injustice and amend what is being applied arbitrarily and capriciously to a minor segment of the Bogue Banks Recreational Water users.

We demand the prejudicial Restriction on the Bogue Banks surfing community, who are users of the State’s Recreational and Public Trust Waters be rescinded, effective immediately.

 On April 2, 2020, while under a State of Emergency due to the COVID 19 virus pandemic, the elected Officials enacted a restriction on recreational water access “to further protect local residents from the community spread of corona virus (COVID 19).” In this case, it was specifically for the Bogue Banks area. However, the towns of Bogue Banks and county have enacted or taken only minor and minimal actions to “further protect local residents.” The effectiveness from merely restricting surfing and swimming is statistically and nominally trifle when compared to the overall population and the influx of non-residents along Bogue Banks.

In a joint effort, each of the four Bogue Banks municipalities agreed to fly Double-Red flags, April 2 through April 29, 2020. The Restriction order stated that “Recreational water access will be prohibited during this period.” The Restriction further stated: “For clarification, due to the serious nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, swimming, surfing, kiting, and non-motorized recreational water access will be prohibited. Residents are permitted to walk, jog and exercise along the beach strand.”

The Restriction discriminates and explicitly pertains only to the swimming and surfing users of the recreational waters. Any other users of the recreational waters are not prohibited, such as users of the recreational waters of Bogue Sound or the use of the Atlantic Ocean which includes, but not limited to, boating, surf fishing, pier fishing, tubing, skiing, sailing, swimming, kayaking, paddling, riding personal water craft, skim boarding, etc..

The restriction to rightly access the recreational waters was only applied to swimming and surfing users. The waters of the Atlantic Ocean during this time averages 65-68 degrees but that does not include wind chill. These water temperatures require a user to wear a wet-suit to maintain safe body temperatures. It is rare that swimmers along Bogue Banks are seen swimming during this season. There are occasional exceptions for swimmers that take to the water for a brief period during this season. Likewise, the number of surfers using the recreational waters at this time are reduced for the same reasons and is typically only the local area surfers accessing the waters. Therefore, this restriction adversely impacts only the rights of the local surfing community of Bogue Banks who use the recreational waters for health, physical exercise, and enjoyment, much like a golfer using a golf course, which is not restricted.

The restriction states: “Restricting recreational water access will reduce the demand on first responders.” Since there are insignificant number of persons swimming in the cold recreational water at this time, the actual demand on first responders for swimming is de minimis compared to the demand during peak summer season.

The Restriction order states: “It is important to note, seasonably warm weather resulted in a water rescue along Bogue Banks on Sunday, March 29, 2020.”

There are a few exceptions, to which, at least “one” rescue call was made in late March of this year to assist “a” swimmer. Historic public records would show that there is a far difference in the demand on first responders for all other users of the recreational waters compared to that of the surfing community. Therefore, this is not a significant statistic or a reasonable basis or cause in which to restrict the access of the recreational waters to the local surfing community of Bogue Banks.

The bicyclists, golfers, joggers, walkers, skateboarders, beach-goers, sun bathers, surf-fishermen, boaters, kayakers, users of personal watercraft (I.e, jet skis), and fishing pier users, are far more likely to put a demand on first responders than the surfing community using the recreational waters.

It should be noted the Restriction itself, however, is putting a demand on first responder resources. The Police department officers, or first responders, have put hours into patrolling the shoreline to strictly enforce the Restriction. The hours these first responders are above what would be typical for a beach shore patrol otherwise as police records would show.

The Restriction states: “According to recent recommendations made by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), socially responsible exercise is key to staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Due to the nature of the sport and activity of surfing which takes place in a wide-open ocean environment, allows the users participation while surfing to be performed and enjoyed while adhering to the NCDHHS guidelines for social distancing and social responsibilities.

The bicyclists, joggers, walkers, skateboarders, beach-goers, sun bathers, surf-fishermen, boaters, kayakers, golf cart users and fishing pier users, can be observed violating social distancing protocol and social responsibility compared to the surfing community using the recreational waters.

The Restriction states: “Additionally, it informs the public that tourist travel to the Crystal Coast is not permitted during Gov. Cooper’s Stay at Home Order.” However, except for strictly prohibiting swimming and surfing, no other prohibitions or restrictions have been implemented or enforced as strictly by the County or the Towns along Bogue Banks. The Restriction states that other users of the beach are not prohibited. Furthermore, the Towns and County have not taken socially responsible actions to further protect the local people from the spread of COVID 19  such as closing boat ramps or restricting the use of the recreational waters of Bogue Sound for any activity, or restricting the full use of the recreational beach strand by the general public.

In summary, the Governor’s Stay At Home order allows citizens to enjoy the outdoors and to get exercise and does not restrict access to the State’s Public Trust Waters or use of the recreational waters of the State. The Bogue Banks Restriction does not restrict or prohibit access to any other form of exercise enjoyed by residents and non-residents; however, it is prohibiting exercise in the form of surfing for the local Bogue Banks surfing community. This restriction is without due cause, unfair, unreasonable, unjustified and discriminates against the users for surfing, which is a small segment of population. Therefore, this restriction on the right to access the State’s Public Trust and Recreational Waters against the surfing community of Bogue Banks is not a solution to solving, alleviating or reducing a global pandemic, is not protecting the overall health and welfare of the people, however, it is unconstitutional, discriminatory and it must be rescinded immediately.

 

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