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A quick one for Hatteras

August 16, 2011
by

The National Park Service is currently reaching the conclusion of the long, and often brutal, procedure seeking to develop a final management plan for Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  The Service has proposed for public comment a regulation to manage ORV use.  The comment deadline is September 6, and you’re of a mind to help protect one of the most beautiful and pristine stretches of beachfront on the continent, I’d like to encourage any or all of my readers who appreciate a fair approach to management of public lands to make a short comment.

The numbers don’t lie.  Over the last four years under interim protections, wildlife is rebounding on the Seashore.  Piping Plover pairs have doubled and fledged 15 young last year and 10 this year, successfully nesting at each inlet this year for the first time in many years.  Black Skimmers and Gull-billed Terns have returned to the Seashore to nest after many years absent (I can speak personally to the abundance of Gull-billed Terns this year.  Great birds).  The number of sea turtle nests the last four years under interim ORV restrictions has nearly doubled the number of nests the previous four years.  And even with these restrictions in place, Seashore visitation has increased and Dare County has had record occupancy of hotels and rentals.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, which has worked hard for sensible management of CHNS, suggests making the following points in your comment:

1) I support a regulation to manage ORV use within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

2) The regulation should include science-based protections for wildlife and vehicle-free areas for wildlife and pedestrians.

Anything else is up to you.  If you’ve visited, consider sharing some of your experiences.  If you haven’t, consider how important it is to have responsible, science-based, management of our public spaces, especially as it pertains to all those birds we love to watch all up and down the east coat.

The fight over proper management of the National Seashore has been a long and contentious one, but we’re almost to the point where the law is law and all parties can move forward with a clear understanding of what is required.  Hopefully the birds and turtles, as well as those who enjoy them, will have a voice and an opportunity.  Thanks for your help to make that happen!

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10 Comments
  1. August 16, 2011 11:10 am

    I submitted a short comment.

  2. Wes Finger permalink
    August 16, 2011 4:54 pm

    submitted an urge to limit/monitor the traffic

  3. Nate permalink*
    August 16, 2011 9:31 pm

    Thanks to both of you. Maybe we’ll score one for the good guys.

  4. rosalie ricks permalink
    August 17, 2011 10:20 am

    I am a birdwatcher and a fisherman. I’ve been going to OBX since 1960 and spend the month of Oct. there everyear. There is very little beach left for driving on to go fishing and I do not feel it is that bad. We do not need more government control we need more under- standing for both sides of the issues. My first love is birding but I can see both sides.

  5. Greg permalink
    August 17, 2011 10:22 am

    Looking forward to visiting the Outer Banks again! Submitted comments. Thanks for the link.

  6. Nate permalink*
    August 17, 2011 10:31 am

    @Rosalie- Your perception that there is “very little” beach left for driving and fishing could not be more incorrect.

    As of today, there are 37 miles of beachfront open to vehicles, including Cape Point, and another 26.7 open to pedestrians. Only 4.5 miles of the entire CHNS is currently closed. By October, even that will be open.

    And also, for the record, if there was no “government control” of Hatteras Island, the entire island would be private property to which you would have zero access. So forgive me if I get a little peeved at accusations that “government control” is the problem. Government Control is the very reason you can enjoy the Outer Banks.

  7. August 20, 2011 12:07 am

    i have family that lives in nags head and i know that he would like to see his piping plovers alive as opposed to deep fried. that is one of the locals qute expressions. come on brad

  8. Marsha Jackson permalink
    August 22, 2011 12:37 pm

    The public worked with the NPS to develop an “interim management strategy” (IMS) which was vetted and published in the summer of 2007. The negotiated rule-making process began in December of that year. The members of that committee all agreed to refrain from ANY legal action during the process of developing rules for ORV access as required in President Nixon’s 1972 Executive Order 11644, amended by Carter in E.O. 11989 (1977). In spite of the required agreement with the Secretary of the Interior, the Audubon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife, represented by the Southern Environmental Center (SELC), filed a lawsuit against the NPS in February of 2008 while the negotiated rule-making process was already underway. The public was inadvertently notified during the first scheduling conference in the courtroom of Judge Terrance Boyle, Fourth Circuit, Eastern District of North Carolina, that DOI and the plaintiffs had already begun negotiations regarding the lawsuit which is a clear violation of the Federal Administrative Procedures Act (FAPA); as DOI is required to publish the fact that a US Government agency intended to enter negotiations with a “Non Governmental Organization” (NGO).The plaintiffs, having filed a lawsuit, were then allowed to remain on the negotiated rule-making committee in spite of their gross violation of the requirement set forth by the head of the Interior Department. As Chief Federal Officer (CFO) during these negotiations, it was Mike Murray’s job and legal obligation to enforce the rules established by Interior. He did not do. The result was the complete failure of the entire rule-making process at the expense, and loss, of the American taxpayer and my community. You should protest and oppose this proposed ORV plan as completely biased toward the parties actively suing the Federal government and illegal.Do you know where you dollars are going lining the pockets of these lawyers and public trust officials?

  9. Nate permalink*
    August 22, 2011 7:59 pm

    @Marsha- The lawsuit wasn’t a clear violation of anything. It was clear from the beginning of the reg-neg process that as long as the status quo was in the best interests of the ORV groups, they were not interested in negotiating in good faith to change it. The lawsuit was required to 1) put in place protections for the federally protected species that the NPS has a legal obligation to take into account and 2) put the ORV groups in the position where they had something to lose by dragging the procedure out indefinitely (which they were absolutely doing).

    And for what it’s worth, I’m perfectly happy with where my tax dollars are going as it pertains to CHNS.

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