Judge Holds Hearing On Beach Access Plan

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) -- A national park official has told a federal judge that beach-closing rules for the 2009 bird and turtle nesting season will start next week on the Outer Banks.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore superintendent Mike Murray told U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle on Thursday that some closures will begin March 14 in areas where nesting has occurred before.

Those closed areas will be adjusted as birds and turtles arrive and establish new patterns.

Murray says this season will be the first full year of operations under an agreement between environmentalists and the park service for protection of endangered birds and turtles. Boyle asked numerous questions as Murray discussed the 2008 closures, which were hotly opposed by some outdoors groups and local businesses.

The superintendent was the only witness.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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