State considering opening park 24-7

The state legislature is now considering a proposal that could quiet the controversy over access to Fort Fisher State Park.

The park has been closed overnight for the past five months, and fishermen say they've lost some of the best hours for landing a catch. Park officials tried to strike a compromise, opening the beach all night in the fall but keeping it closed at night during the summer months.

"Business has dropped off because of that," said Robert Schoonmaker, who operates a charter boat. "People I have taken fishing say it's a problem for them because they like to go fishing on their own, whenever they want because fishing is better early and late."

Kure Beach resident Carol Montgomery wants the gates to stay closed. She says it's dangerous to have the beach open and not patrolled.

"I cant understand why some fishermen feel the need to drive their trucks on the beach at night in the summertime.

The bill under consideration in raleigh would open park gates 24-7 and give the park 25-thousand dollars for education and law enforcement.

You can't say gosh i don't want it. We could use it but it's not going to provide any more enforcement. A commissioned officer will cost between 30 and 40 thousand dollars.

Seigh says all-night access presents more problems this time of year ... May through september is prime nesting time for sea turtles.

Any trucks, headlights, activity or lanterns ... Scare sea turtles. They go back to sea

and we lose an opportunity for a nest.

Part of the problem is tire tracks like these -- the two inch baby turtles have a hard time climbing over the tracks and making it safely to sea.

Sometime next week the legislature in raleigh should decide whether to help protect the turtles...or help the fishermen get their catch.