Influencing political decisions. We have been considering lately how environmental groups can better get their views across to legislative bodies and local politicians. The end result of our deliberations: we need to do a better job of staying in contact with the people we want to influence. We invited our State Representatives, Jean Preston and Ronnie Smith to a Crossroads board meeting recently to discuss the problem with them and found them both to be very helpful. They do want to hear from their constituents and they read their letters and e-mails carefully. You will probably be getting more reminders from us of issues to discuss with your elected officials in the future. Be assured that if you do respond to our alerts, it will have an influence. See the following report from our President, Dick Bierly, on a related topic:
This totally redundant and unnecessary effort is a foolish expenditure of taxpayer's money. Why do our elected representatives continually oppose the commissions legislatively established to protect our environment, even though they appoint the lion's share of the commission members?
Wouldn't it be great if the key members of the General Assembly would look at established committees already in place and find ways to make them more effective? Wouldn't it be great if local officials and development interests would participate in the work of the CRC and EMC, learn the facts behind some of the problems they are trying to correct and then participate in rule making, instead of finding ways to derail the work after the fact?
Crossroads is working with other environmental organizations across the state to ask House Speaker Black not to appoint the committee members. If you would like to participate in working against this perversion of the committee system, write a letter to Speaker Jim Black at 16 West Jones St., Raleigh, NC 27601-2808 (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). Ask him not to appoint members to this committee. You can also e-mail our Representatives, Jean Preston (email@example.com) and Ronnie Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) or write them at the above address. Ask them to urge Speaker Black to not appoint committee members.
Core Sound leases. You may remember the uproar that occurred a few years ago when several people applied for leases of non-productive bottom in Core Sound for shellfish culture. Local concerns led to a permanent legislative ban on new leases on the eastern side of Core Sound and a series of temporary moratoria on the western (landward) side of the Sound. The subject of bottom leases in this area has been hotly debated and the Division of Marine Fisheries felt that it needed resolution. They set up a Stakeholders Group, primarily composed of fishermen from eastern Carteret County, to look at the issue and make recommendations. Crossroads Board members Bob Austin and Irv Hooper were on the panel. Among factors considered were the non-productive use of leases, the study of the utilization of the area by citizens done by a Duke Marine Lab group headed by Mike Orbach, and the inherent value of allowing leases to increase the utilization of a valuable resource.
Although not everyone on the panel agreed, consensus was reached that the western side of Core Sound should be opened to leasing on a limited basis. We recommended limiting leases to five acres and five years. Several provisions were added to discourage using leases for non-productive uses, such as merely maintaining control of a water front area. There is little argument that utilization of clam aquaculture can add greatly to the seafood production of the area and can help in maintaining fishing as a viable industry in eastern North Carolina. It is the hope of the panel that regulators, commissions and legislators will recognize the thoughtful nature of our deliberations and adjust the regulatory system accordingly.
Internet sites. Here are a couple of sites our board members liked: Lisa Wimpfheimer suggested http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/agecon/WECO. If you are looking for help with citizen activism, Penny Hooper suggests http://www.ncpirg.org/toolkit/index/html. Your editor finds that the new county website at: http://www.co.carteret.nc.us has a lot of interesting information. We do not yet have any suggestions from our members. Let us hear from you if you have favorite websites you would like to share.
Crossroads news. Please look at your mailing label to see your dues status. We need your support and your dues are our only source of income. We operate on a calendar year so dues for 2002 are now due unless your label indicates that they have been paid for 2002 or beyond.
Thanks to recent Life Members, Juanita Remien and M Prager and Jack Tervo. We appreciate your continued support and encouragement.
We have two changes in board membership. Lynn Barker has moved to Raleigh. Thanks Lynn for doing a great job. We welcome our newest board member, Dr. Mike Orbach, Director of the Duke Marine Laboratory. We will be holding our regular Board Election after the Annual Meeting. Billy Harvey and Penny Hooper will be seeking reelection for another three-year term.
Board member Bruce McCutcheon will be taking over as Newsletter Editor with the next issue. After almost twenty years of writing these newsletters, we welcome Bruce to the job. It has been fun and we will look forward to working with Bruce to keep you informed--Irv Hooper
Sally Anger has taken over as Webmaster to keep our website useful and interesting.
REMEMBER THE ANNUAL MEETING FEB. 28th AT THE DUKE LAB.