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Outer Banks Beaches - Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

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Old 06-12-2008, 12:37 PM
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Outer Banks Beaches - Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole

U.S. Senator Richard Burr

U.S. Representative Walter Jones

News Release

For Immediate Release: June 11, 2008 Contact: Katie Hallaway (Dole), 202-224-2999

Chris Walker (Burr) 202-228-1616[/B]
Kathleen Joyce (Jones), 202-225-3415 [/B]

Dole, Burr and Jones Introduce Legislation to

Allow Off-road Vehicle use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and U.S. Rep. Walter Jones today introduced legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives that would reinstate the Interim Management Strategy governing off-road vehicle use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS). The reinstatement of the original Interim Management Strategy, issued by the National Park Service (NPS) on June 13, 2007, would set aside current mandates and requirements which were put in place in the wake of a consent decree filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, that prevent off-road vehicle and citizen access to a significant portion of this National Seashore.

“I share the concerns of many North Carolinians about the negative ramifications that severely restricting off-road vehicle use at CHNS will have on the local community and economy,” said Dole. “Beach users and members of the local community deserve to have their voices heard to ensure the development of a long-term plan that protects the natural habitat of the Seashore while maintaining its economic and recreational benefits.”

“As Ranking Member on the National Parks Subcommittee, I always try to make sure that North Carolinians have access to our state’s scenic treasures,” said Burr. “It is unfortunate that people are prevented from accessing Cape Hatteras at times because of the new restrictions. I am certain we can come to a compromise that allows people to have access while at the same time addressing any potential environmental concerns.”

“The consent decree has once again shown that managing the Seashore through the courts – without public input – is always a bad idea,” said Jones. “This bill would restore reasonable public access and would bring the public back into the process on a level playing field by reinstituting the Interim Management Strategy until the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee can produce a final rule.”

If enacted, the National Park Service’s Interim Management Strategy will go into effect immediately and end upon the National Park Service establishing a long-term off-road vehicle management plan for the use of CHNS by the public.


In 1972, President Richard Nixon issued an Executive Order that required all federal parks, refuges and public lands that allow off-road vehicles access to develop and implement a detailed management plan to regulate and assess environmental impacts. CHNS never developed a management plan, and as a result, Cape Hatteras has been out of compliance for over three decades.

In December 2005, the NPS developed a three-phase plan to begin the negotiation process and create regulations that would allow CHNS to meet compliance standards; however, on July 17, 2007 an injunction was filed by the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society to prevent off-road vehicle use until a management plan is established and approved. A settlement negotiation process ensued, and on April 30, 2008, a federal judge approved a consent decree, proposed by the plaintiffs and agreed to by the parties involved in the case – the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Superintendent of Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The settlement, which went into effect on May 1, 2008, requires that all seashore ramps be closed to ORVs from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. through November 15, 2008, that buffers for nests and chicks are clearly defined and in some cases more restrictive, and that deliberate violations of the buffers will result in an expanded restricted area.
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:38 PM
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And then the bird peoples spin.

WASHINGTON, June 11 Protect-NC-wildlife

WASHINGTON, June 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Legislation introduced today by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (all of North Carolina) would allow the short-sighted wishes of small special interest groups to take precedence over the continued survival of the unique national resources that make Cape Hatteras National Seashore so special.

The bill threatens to return Cape Hatteras to a management strategy that had proven woefully inadequate in safeguarding our natural resources. The benefits of the science-based consent decree to Cape Hatteras' threatened wildlife are already being seen in the increased number of birds using the seashore this nesting season.

"This attack on the laws that safeguard our parks and seashores could set a dangerous precedent," said Jason Rylander, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife. "Basing the management of Cape Hatteras on the desires of a handful of special interests would do a disservice not only to the wildlife and natural resources the seashore was created to protect, but also to the thousands of visitors who travel to the seashore to enjoy those same resources each year."

Legal action would not have been necessary if the Park Service had complied with the law and implemented responsible ORV management plans. In July of 2007, Judge Terrence Boyle ruled that the Park Service was not complying with the law in their management of off-road vehicle use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

"This bill would put back in place a failed plan to manage the natural resources of the Seashore and degrade a national treasure established for the enjoyment of all Americans, " said SELC attorney Derb Carter.

The consent decree that is currently in place was based upon recommendations developed by the Park Service's own scientists, and is the result of collaboration and agreement between all interested parties - including Dare and Hyde Counties and the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance - a coalition of Off Road Vehicle groups.

Over the past 10 years, the numbers of imperiled birds nesting at the seashore declined by 86 percent. Already this year the threatened piping plover has at least seven pairs breeding, up one so far from last year, and the American oystercatcher numbers have improved from 22 breeding pairs in 2007 to 33 pairs, according to National Park Service figures.

"Management under the interim plan was clearly not working, resulting in some of the lowest numbers of nesting birds in the history of the Seashore," said Chris Canfield, Executive Director of Audubon North Carolina. "The consent decree represents an approach that was agreed to by all parties involved - including the Park Service, both local counties and representatives of the beach driving community."

Even with the consent decree's increased protections for natural resources, more than 22 of the Seashore's 66 miles of beach remain open for driving, and almost 55 miles are open to pedestrians, according to the National Park Service's June 5 access report. Just 12 miles of the beach are closed due to the need to protect natural resources; the other closures are based on routine seasonal or safety needs.

The consent decree also provides a great deal of flexibility, with temporary closures that can be lifted and reopened to vehicles once wildlife is no longer using the area. Already, some areas have been reopened this season.

"The consent decree is already showing signs of improving natural resource protection while still allowing abundant access for visitors. I just spent two days at the Seashore; Cape Hatteras remains a wonderful place for all to visit and enjoy," said Canfield.

SOURCE Defenders of Wildlife
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