HATTERAS, N.C. (WAVY) - If you're planning to drive on the beach at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, you'll have to buy more than gas.
The National Park Service now requires a permit to drive on the beach .
A group of Hatteras Island residents marched to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in protest of the new regulation Tuesday.
The morning march was named "Defending Freedom", and for the people who live there, the protests is about more than just beach access. It's about liberty, justice and protecting a way of life that has lasted for generations.
Hatteras Resident John Ochs said, "We the people are not here no more. The pledge of allegiance is full of lies..."
Approximately 100 island residents participated in the march.
Kevin Gray-Conner, who organized the event, explained, "And to me this is just as important a battle that we're doing here today as the battles of Yorktown, the battles of Concord, Lexington, Trenton. We're standing for freedom."
What they want is simple, the freedom to drive on the beach without a permit and with unrestricted access.
"Well, it seems like everything we've been able to do, we can't do anymore. The Park Service is shutting us down," Resident Sue Glass added.
But, Mike Murray, with the National Park Service , argued, "Driving on the beach is a privilege, not a right in the National Park system."
As Superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore , Murray recognizes the park service's obligation to provide recreational use on the beach, but he said there is another provision of the law that must be upheld as well.
"It also said that we would set aside the rest of the area as primitive wilderness and that there'd be no plan for the convenience of visitors that would be incompatible with the preservation of primitive flora and fauna...," Murray explained.
But, residents contend that wasn't the original intent of the law that established the park.
Resident Virginia Luizer said, "Congress intended this to be the one place where the average person could have public access to the beach."
However, environmentalists believe increased traffic on the beach has become too much of a threat to endangered species that nest along the shoreline.
Geoff Gisler, with the Southern Environmental Law Center, told WAVY.com, "When you look at the nesting numbers and you look at the breeding numbers, the wildlife wasn't doing well."
So groups, like the Audobon Society , took the National Park Service to court to mandate enforcement of federal laws they say require restrictions, like the ones in place now.
The legal battle, however, is not over and neither is the fight for beach access.
Norfolk Police are investigating the cause of death for male found unconscious on the beach.
To ease holiday mailing, the Richmond District of the U.S. Postal Service is extending its Saturday window hours.
Free Christmas trees will be given to active-duty members of the military and their families Wednesday.