ORV Group Files Lawsuit Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore ORV Management Plan

In a move not totally unexpected, the National Park Service has been sued over its plan for managing off-road vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Washington, D.C., by the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance, an arm of the Outer Banks Preservation Association, claims the seashore staff failed to fully consider proposals offered by the alliance that would meet their desires for ORV access to Cape Hatteras beaches while also protecting threatened and endangered species.

“The Park Service’s new ORV management plan and rules, if implemented, will have a devastating effect on our unique, local shore-oriented culture and economy,” said John Couch, the association's president. “The OBPA and CHAPA have fought to keep the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area beaches free and open to residents and visitors since 1977.

"OBPA and CHAPA continuously have maintained that reasonable ORV access and bird and turtle species protection are not mutually exclusive," he said in a prepared statement. "Unfortunately, the Park Service overlooked reasonable recommendations and information that OBPA and CHAPA put forth during the planning process that would have resulted in an ORV management plan and rules that both protect wildlife resources and ensure reasonable ORV access to and over the area’s beaches.”

One of the recommendations Mr. Couch's group has made was to have the seashore use a bulldozer to create new habitat for plovers away from Cape Point, a highly popular and productive fishing area near Buxton.

"What we're saying is why can't we have a partnership with the environmentalists? We can improve this habitat," he said last summer. "They (the Park Service) have yet to do anything to improve the habitat for the birds.”

But the suggestion didn't seem prudent to the Park Service.

"Should we go out and bulldoze ponds in different locations? You've got to recognize that it'd be adverse modification of piping plover habitat," Cape Hatteras Superintendent Mike Murray said last summer. "If the habitat is naturally occurring there, you can't go mess it up in order to ensure access and then try to spend millions to create habitat further west. It is where it is."

The management plan, rules for which are scheduled to take effect next Wednesday, February 15, was developed after years of acrimonious debate over how to protect species such as the piping plover and five species of sea turtles from disturbance during their nesting seasons on Cape Hatteras. The plan was designed to meet both the Park Service's legal requirement to adopt an ORV management plan at the seashore, and its mandates under the Endangered Species Act to protect endangered and threatened species.

It was another lawsuit, brought in 2007 by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the National Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife over the lack of an ORV management plan, that forced the Park Service's hand to develop one.

Since 2008 the seashore has governed ORV use on the beaches under an interim plan approved as part of a consent decree reached in the wake of the lawsuit. Part of the interim plan allowed the Park Service to establish ORV buffers 1,000 meters wide to protect piping plover chicks; the buffer for pedestrians is 300 meters. Both buffers were retained in the management plan the Park Service wants to implement.

While Cape Hatteras Superintendent Murray tried to work with both sides in the matter to come up with a satisfactory ORV plan, one that would provide access and protect wildlife, that didn't go very well. For 18 months committees worked to find common ground, but couldn't.

“The committee worked really hard,” the superintendent said back in May 2010. “We had 11 formal meetings, which was 20 total meeting days. Every couple months there would be a two-day meeting. But we had seven subcommittees that worked on different parts of the plan. They had conference calls and subcommittee meetings and on and on and on.

“They made progress on stuff,” he went on, “but it kind of boiled down to, after all this effort, the parties on the committee were able to agree to the easy things, like speed limits, or vehicle requirements. They couldn’t agree to the hard things, like how are we going to manage ORV use in the real sensitive bird nesting areas?

“So, towards the end of the process, we created a special subcommittee, called the integration group - sort of three from each side and three sort of neutral parties - to try to work out the final recommendation for the committee to consider. And they couldn’t do it. They couldn’t agree to anything.”

In their lawsuit, the ORV interests contend that they have "advocated the protection and preservation of seashore beaches within a framework of responsible and meaningful access to the ocean beaches and sound for all users, including pedestrians and properly licensed drivers and their vehicles."

But the plan scheduled to take effect next week, they claim in their lawsuit, was “foreordained from the time that NPS began its planning process." More so, the Park Service’s planning and environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act was plagued by a series of failures, the filing maintains.

Those failures, the group's press release states, include: a failure to give meaningful consideration to views, data, or information that were contrary to NPS’s desire to impose more severe restrictions on ORV access and use; a failure to look at reasonable alternatives, including smaller and more flexible buffer and closure areas; and a failure to properly assess impacts on the local economy.

The complaint asks the court to determine that NPS acted improperly and to prevent NPS from implementing its final ORV management plan and rules.

Comments

("Should we go out and bulldoze ponds in different locations? You've got to recognize that it'd be adverse modification of piping plover habitat," Cape Hatteras Superintendent Mike Murray said last summer. "If the habitat is naturally occurring there, you can't go mess it up in order to ensure access and then try to spend millions to create habitat further west. It is where it is.")

Funny but they did exactly that to create what is now Pea Island!!!!

That last four years of the draconian closure sizes has proven one major thing... these birds will not reach the numbers everyone is wanting. They continually are eaten by predator mammals and ghost crabs.

Mike Murray performed the same beach closings in upper norht east and this is the only reason why he was brought down to Cape Hatteras. He kind of reminds me of our governments dealings with the Native Americans.

Not surprising, but very disappointing. This shows that the ORV debate will never be completed until the beaches are open for ORVers or the beaches are locked down entirely. The do-nothing committees have shown that there is no middle ground, but the NPS is stuck in the middle, doing its best to create a final rule. I hate to be a cynic, but I think it's pretty clear that there will never be any resolution for this issue, even when NPS makes a "final decision."

Another waste of taxpayer money to fight a frivolous lawsuit. I hope the judge makes the NPS take ALL the ORVs off the beaches. Awww, is 30 miles of beach not enough to drive on already? Geez...whiners. You're lucky to have the ability to drive on the beach at all.

The uneducated state this is only an ORV issue, whereas the educated speak of it as an ACCESS to all issue...

CHAPA suggested bulldozing the new vegetation that grew at Cape Point as a result of the area being closed by NPS. For at least 30 there was no vegetation growing within a 1/2 mile of the ocean and all the aerial photos prove it. ORV access prevented the vegetation from
growing and provided EXACTLY the type of habitat Piping Plovers prefer. NPS allowed the vegetation to grow and forced the Piping Plovers to nest closer to the ocean allowing a smaller area for nesting which allowed easier predation, more conflict with pedestrians and ORV and loss from severe weather events. The suggestion to bulldoze the vegetation was to bring the nesting areas back to pre NPS closures.

Mike Murray talks out of both sides of his mouth on this issue. Many hundreds of mammals have been trapped and killed by NPS Rangers and Contractors in the Recreational Area. Has it improved the Piping Plover nesting? Absolutely not! Has the trapping and killings upset the balance of nature, has it changed natures course......YOU BET!......and its contrary to the mission of NPS.

Where has Audubon been? Where have the Defenders of Wildlife (DOW) been? Where has the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) been? They were all here in great numbers when the NC DOT and Dare County were being sued or threatened with lawsuits. They were all here when the National Park Service and Department of Interior were being sued. They will be back again to file suit or threaten to sue all of the above before permanent repairs to the only highway in the Recreational Area Route 12 are made, before
the new bridge to Hatteras Island is built and when NPS releases the ORV Driving Rule for Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.

Our Tax dollars have been wasted over and over on lawyers and courts across America fighting the systematic removal of people from NPS controlled lands, monuments etal.

American needs to wake up: Yellowstone, Point Reyes, Yosemite, Delaware Water Gap, Gateway Recreational Area in CA, Sandy Hook in NJ are a few of the current battlegrounds where we are being excluded.

and the lawsuit against NPS by DOW, DELC, etc wasnt a wast of tax payer money?

Ahhh the non stop debate. Are the parks places for us to play, or are they places to preserve nature. Most would say something in the middle, with both. However that balance will forever be debated. Personally, I don't think the parks are for active recreation such as ORVs. However there are many who disagree. I wonder why geocaching is considered to harmful to the environment and against the mission of the NPS, but ORV's are o.k.

Why do people think they should have vehicular access to all places, especially units of the National Park system? That is NOT a right. Do you want to drive over the National Mall, drive over Antietam Battlefield, drive over the glaciers at Glacier National Park? This country is FULL of places to drive your car. Enough already! Every person in the world has access to every NPS unit. You do not have the right to DRIVE wherever you want to. Sorry.

This lawsuit will fail. The complaint is a joke. After years of process, negotiated rule making, public comments etc., the notion that CHAPA wasn't listened too is ridiculous. What CHAPA wants is illegal. They want no rules on ORVs, no pedestrian areas, no protections for species if it inconveniences them. Now they are going to waste the hard earned money of lots of working people to pad a DC law firm that has to know what a hail Mary pass this lawsuit is. It's too bad. But it's time to adapt to reality.

"The frivolous, wasteful lawsuit brought by set-in-their-ways special interest groups full of whining yahoos shouting down those who don't predict gloom and doom" is really bringing out the best in some posters.

Hatrasfver,
There's no such thing as "balance of nature". Exotic and invasive mammalian species have negatively effected species which did not evolve with a large threat from mammalian predators and are not equiped to compensate for the high predation rate. So they are being removed. That removal is positively effecting the nesting species, or are you saying all the great improvements of these species are just from ORV and pedestrian restrictions?
Let's see, piping plover pairs from 2001-2007 fledged an average of 2.3 chicks/year, since the year the Consent Decree began 2008-2011 they've fledged an averaged of more than 9.5 chicks/year and the number of breeding pairs has more than doubled. In 2010 fledged plover chicks surpassed the most ever observed.
American Oystercatcher success has more than tripled and have set equivilent records. Colonial waterbird nest numbers have increased as well. So too sea turtle nest numbers. Odd the trends for these species reversed at the exact time CD restrictions were put in to place.

Samsdad1,
F&WS created plover habitat, where there was none. It had all been destoyed by the terminal groin. You're/Couch's proposal is to destroy existing habitat - which is in use - and attempt to create it elsewhere just for recreational access.

These beaches should be open. Closing the beaches to ORV AND PEDESTRIANS has NOTHING to do with these animals. It is just another land grab by the federal gov. These birds nest in the dunes, not in the freakin tire tracks!! Im still waiting for someone to tell me what keeping PEDESTRIANS off the beach has to do with "protecting resources". Anyone? Didnt think so. Another question: Who exactly is benefitting from these beaches being shut down? Knowing the ORVs dont make a damn difference to the birdies survival, who is benefitting here? I must be missing something. Just leave the beaches open like they should be

crot, who is counting those birds? The NPS. They can make up whatever numbers they want to get their way. Twisted science so they can get their way. Dont believe me? Anyone heard of AL GORE?? HAHA

Can anyone not see why the issue is now back before the court. The extreme environmental contingent is showing, right here in their comments, The attitude that has placed it there. A bunch of anonymous people afraid to put their name to their words.
When Mike Murry told me to my face a long time ago that the final results concerning access would not be up to him, I assume he was trying to tell me that it would be up to the dictates of the Audubon, DoW and SELC and their supporters. Asking for comments and recommendations from the public ( residents, visitors, businesses ) was a farce. I feel like they were just getting us to tell them what they would have to counter, not what they should consider.
Now go ahead and have at it, Anons.
Ron (obxguys)

Jimmy,
"You have to be mature enough to recognize something can be true even if you don't like the consequences of it. That's what it means to be a mature adult." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

Of course I'm assuming you're not a child on your mother's computer. Based on your comment though, I may be wrong.

No elitism in these posts.

Nope, none at all.

crot,
good one, but i could say the same. if you think im having this conversation with you, the answer is no. sorry.
Lets get back to the discussion now...

We should define some terms:
Elitist: Anybody who uses reason to solve problems rather than appeals to emotion.
Extreme environmental contingent: Anybody who thinks its reasonable to allow listed species to propogate unfettered by human disturbance and ORVs zipping through their "daycare centers".

I kind of hope CHAPA wins. Because if they do and there is no ORV plan on the beach, all driving stops. Per federal law driving on the beach is illegal unless there is a management plan in place. So if they win the case, driving is banned. Won't that be something!
After the last lawsuit, the so-called environmental extremists could have asked for a complete ban. They didn't. All sides, including CHAPA, agreed that driving could continue with restrictions. That plan has been in place for four years. The sky didn't fall. Now there's an official, legally-required plan that allow driving by permits on more than half the seashore for most of the year and the usual suspects go berserk. Seems they are the real extremists here.

Samsdad1 I think the injunction by the ORV organization legal arm "CHAPA" is really about ORV access not pedestrian or alternative means of access. This has always been about ORV access, not pedestrian access. A photo of NPS signs showing the beach closed to vehicles and pedestrians are good spin for your side but have nothing to do with promoting pedestrian access areas. Audubon is the real advocate of pedestrian rights in CHNS, not the ORV access groups.

In the press release from OBPA where they describe the injunction to their members "ORV" is referenced 12 times and "pedestrian" only once. The so called access groups have always advocated for more ORV access (never pedestrian or shuttle) near resource closures and have at best proposed very limited, mostly seasonal, pedestrian areas in the Park.

Ron I've had a few discussions with Mr. Murray and I'd say the final decision was a political decision made by Superintendent Murray's bosses not some clandestine back room where the evil environmentalist were twisting arms. Your sides’ views were well represented by the political maneuverings they conducted.

You all (NCBBA) have never accepted that there are other valid interests (individuals and organizations) with an agenda for this park that encompasses more than recreational ORV access. The environmentalists have never denied that recreational activities or even ORV access were not an integral part of this park. The trick and the difficulty was/is finding a way to protect the resources and to manage CHNS like a National Park, not like it was Dare county ORV/fishing Park. Not all of us want to recreate in the middle of an ORV/fishing tailgate party on the beach. I don't want you not to be able to have that experience if you choose but please give us an equal opportunity to enjoy CHNS in a manner that we have legitimate rights to. The proposed plan gives you the best parts of the Park and the largest share. Why can't you all accept this?

And by the way I think the driving permit is: not fair, expensive, confusing, and time consuming for anyone on vacation. I would have rather it have been free and on line, where the driver signs that they have read or watched the video on driving rules, have the necessary equipment, will be responsible and agree to the rules. If the Park has to collect money to make ends meet they should collect it from everyone and not single out one user group. Put up an EZ pass gate at Whale Bone Junction, provide the locals and service people year round passes and charge each vehicle a fee to enter the Park.

What we got here is failure to communicate. And as long as judges like Boyle and whom ever this new one will be continue to intervine we will continue to have failure to communicate. And a lot of wasted money.

I am continuously amazed at the folks that feel a "need" to drive on the beach. My god there is a paved road that runs parallel to the beach. Get off your $%& #@% and walk to the beach.

SS1,
You are always well versed and disgustingly polite. Makes it very difficult to have a decent argument with you.
I must say that you completely lost me with your statement about "Your sides' views were well represented by the political maneuverings they conducted." If that is meant to say we won a round, i don't think we even got in a punch. I still remember hearing about the comment "How does it feel to lose, we got everything we wanted". I believe it is common knowledge that we were given the choice to except the dictates of the Southern Environmental Law Center (AS & DoW) or Judge Boyle would shut the beach down completely. Yes we did sign off on the Consent Decree. Nothing changed after that except we did not have to sign off on the final Decission.
You state that we are getting the use of the best part of the park. Who has said you can't use the whole dang place. Not us. Shoot, you can pull up a chair next to me anytime and anywhere you want. I'll even go for a walk with you. Why do we need lines in the sand. Guess that's not good ? Sorry.
I am pleased to see that we agree on at least one point. You state in your first paragraph to Samsdad that "This has always been about ORV access, not pedestrian access". That I agree with !00%. We were told it was about the birds. What ever happened to it being about "The Birds". It never was about the birds and everyone knows it. Audubon had to come up with something that was in one of those "Acts". As to the pedestrians, you are just wrong. My wife and I walk on the beach along with our grand children as much as we ride. We care about all pedestrians, except maybe those that don't like US. We are funny about that. It is difficult to spend much time advocating specifically for pedestrian access when we are devoting so much time to defending our promised "privilege" to drive on the beach. Please tell me of one instance when we have made a single comment in reference to limiting pedestrian access. Heck, we even had to walk in the ocean, carrying all our gear, if we wanted to get past one of the enclsures. while the NPS would drive right through it. Now, tell me that made sense. Don't even talk any more about wether we care about pedestrian access.
As much as I would like to ask you about your take on the eradication of the hundreds of innocent wildlife, (especially when they are trying to see what effect orv and pedestrian activity have on the success of the birds), I will let that go. Some "science".
It's been swell as usual.
Ron (obxguys)

I

Ron,
I must say, I never understand these comments about "it's not about the birds" or "it's all about money." When NPCA and Bluewater first petitioned a decade ago for ORV rules, it was partly about the species issues but mostly about the fact that ORV use was being allowed without proper management. Those groups' main interest is in ensuring the protection of the parks and quality of vegetation. When Defenders and Audubon got invovled, it was very much about the birds, some species of which had declined to extirpation at Hatteras. As Crotalus put it above -- "piping plover pairs from 2001-2007 fledged an average of 2.3
chicks/year, since the year the Consent Decree began 2008-2011 they've
fledged an averaged of more than 9.5 chicks/year and the number of
breeding pairs has more than doubled. In 2010 fledged plover chicks
surpassed the most ever observed.

American Oystercatcher success has more than tripled and have set
equivilent records. Colonial waterbird nest numbers have increased as
well. So too sea turtle nest numbers. Odd the trends for these species
reversed at the exact time CD restrictions were put in to place."
Well, it's not odd. Addressing this decline of nesting birds and turtles was clearly the intent and there was ample science to suggest that limiting vehicles would help. The thing is, NPS is required to regulate ORVs not birds. So when they make up a rule there was no way it was not going to include permits and other things that are typically part of an ORV rule, but which have at best secondary impacts on birds.
The natural resource protection stuff, which is actually not in the rule itself that CHAPA is now challenging, is the same stuff that has been in place for the last four years. I get that some people don't like this, but it annoys me no little bit to see motivations impugned without any basis.

Above I meant to say, "quality of visitation" -- i.e. the visitor experience for non-ORVers -- why I wrote "quality of vegetation" I have no idea!

SS1,
When I mention pedestrians it is purely because they are the environmentalists decoy to throw out there when trying to justify removing ORV's from the beach...You prove my point here

The trick and the difficulty was/is finding a way to protect the resources and to manage CHNS like a National Park, not like it was Dare county ORV/fishing Park. Not all of us want to recreate in the middle of an ORV/fishing tailgate party on the beach.

After 13 years coming down to Cape Hatteras I have yet to see a person (who was not forced by the consent decree) walk to the point to recreate!!! Never happens and now with the new rules there will be miles and miles of beaches that will be inaccessable that are set aside for pedestrians. These will remain inaccessable until the NPS builds all the promised facilities to allow access to those areas.

This comment also is blind to the facts: "The proposed plan gives you the best parts of the Park and the largest share. Why can't you all accept this?

Please review the maps of the previous years resource closures and then tell me how much beach is open. Not much considering all the facts like one vehicle every twenty feet and VFA's (vehicle free areas). do the research on this and let me know what average you come up with for areas open and who wins or loses.

The last comment I see is this: ""I don't want you not to be able to have that experience if you choose but please give us an equal opportunity to enjoy CHNS in a manner that we have legitimate rights to."

If this indeed is the case understand my only wish was to be able to get to an area with my family that will allow us to enjoy a natural beach area without being in a crowd beachtowels or having to go hiking for a half mile over extremely hot sand to get there. I save my hiking for the mountains near my home or the woods bordering my property. Being forced to march my family over hot sand to have peace and quiet is not an option. I will in fact continue as I have for the past two years and enjoy an area they cannot take away YET. Using my boat to find a sandbar and get away from this beautiful island covered in SIGNS saying stay away.

"These birds nest in the dunes, not in the freakin tire tracks!! Im still waiting for someone to tell me what keeping PEDESTRIANS off the beach has to do with "protecting resources". Anyone? "

Maybe I can help answer that Jimmy. Yes the birds nest in the dunes, but they come down to the water in order to feed. The chicks run around and begin feeding on their own soon after birth. Often, they have great difficulty in navigating through the deep tired tracks to reach their food. And since they rely on camoflage to keep safe, when a vehicle is coming they hunker down in the sand and don't move and often get smushed (I have seen this many times first hand). Pedestrians walking in the nesting area scare the parents off the nest and the chicks (or eggs) are then vulnerable to predators and to the heat of the sand. If left exposed for too long, the chicks (or eggs) can actually cook to death on the hot sand.

I will say that I'm not completely against ORV use, but a management plan is needed. Oftentimes the fishermen (or women) need a vehicle to be able to reach a fishing area. This helps then get away from the main swimming areas where swimmers can get tangled in their lines and get injured by hooks. Since I have done some shore fishing, I know that it is very difficult to walk with all that gear, especially in sand, so a vehicle does come in handy. That being said, the ecosystem and the welfare of any species should come first. Barrier islands are so very important and need to be protected.

To RangerLady: Let me start by saying that I find you to be a very unusual person and would find you to be even more unusual, I'm sure, if I knew where you were coming from. You are different. I am not in agreement with you but, I am not sure I would argue with you. I think I would rather ask you, if that makes sense.
I am a fisherman and husband, father and grandfather. My wife andI live in Virginia Beach and have a cottage in Kill Devil Hills which was built by my wife and her late husband 25 years ago. We have been involved in the Outer Banks to varying degrees for twice that many years. I can show you a picture of four generations of our family on the beach at Oregon Inlet Spit. We drove there as was necessary. I don't think we will be able to go there any more (even if the new inlet fills back in). We never hurt a bird or turtle. We never tore up the beach. We always leave with more trash and debris than we create. I believe that our entire family is very conservation minded and are proud of our efforts to care for Gods creatures and protect the environment, especially on the OBX as we definately have a stake there and hope to spend our later years there, God willing.
Now I ask you, why does anyone believe that it was proper procedure to institute such extreme measures, far exceeding all logic, in the name of protecting the Plover and Turtles. Yes, we all agree that an orv policy with regulations is necessary and long over do. We all agree that the Wildlife needs protecting, In fact they need help in ways that were not even given due consideration. We asked this question and never recieved a satisfactory answer. We were expected to refer to a document with so many pages of redundant information that even a judge would have to have a lawyer explain it to him. This is not a complicated issue, it is just being intentionally made into one.
So I ask you my question, why does anyone believe that it was proper procedure to institute such extreme measures, far exceeding all logic, in the name of protecting the Plover and Turtles.Your thoughts would be appreciated.
Ron (obxguys)

something doesnt add up when the first spots to close each year are the most popular orv spots (cape point, ocracoke south and north ends). i dont live there but its a way of life for people that do and i truly feel for them. first it was pea island that was reserved for wildlife. then apparently that wasnt enough. Its frustrating when parts that are inaccesable by foot, are open to pedestrian access. Whats the point then? How do you tell handicapped people or disabled people that they cant go to the beaches they grew up on anymore? Sure there could be improvements to management of the seashore, but at some point enough is enough. And no one has mentioned it yet, but what about the many raccoons and foxes that the park service has SHOT AND KILLED to try to kill the plovers predators. You would think that would be cause of an uproar by the public, but its just swept under the rug and kept quiet. Everyone love to come to the defense of their beloved birds but what about the dang foxes and coons? are they not cute enough? just trying to do the math but i must still be missing something, NO?

Ron I am not trying to have an argument with you, others view these comments beside you and I. I am explaining that there is a different view, history and interpretation than your comments suggest.

I agree the NPS beaches adjacent to the county villages at times are, "a crowd of beachtowels" and not the kind of beach I want to recreate on either. There is no guaranteed you will find a secluded beach on ORV accessible beaches. ORV visitors can and do park as close as they choose to anyone else. Many of the NPS beaches that should be the most secluded become the most crowded because literally hundreds of vehicles drive and park there. These heavily traversed beaches become gigantic parking lots and the beach in these locations stays in a semi permanent state of deep criss-crossing meandering ruts. I have read the "Worth Letter" and the Enabling Legislation (the voice of the people) dozens of times and there is no reference to a promised privilege of driving on the beach. Access to the beach is directly implied, as are regulations to protect the resource and other properties. Like many I am disappointed when I am temporarily deigned access to my favorite beaches. I just don't think the Park or special interest groups (like Audubon) are advocating anything that is out of the scope of the law or intent for the management of the Park.

Basically when I read the comments and suggested talking points to their members from the ORV organizations web pages it is apparent they want ORV access to the beaches that are secluded and dramatic. In addition they want the beaches adjacent to the villages open to ORV use (8 months of the year) and the beach in front of the NPS campgrounds. In simple terms ORV groups like NCBBA (North Carolina Beach Buggy Association) want the great majority of the Park open to ORV access the majority of the time.

I understand the ORV organizations’ POV but disagree with it. Just because beach drivers share the Beach with pedestrians does not address my point or satisfy my needs. The reason we need lines in the sand is because not all of us want to recreate in the middle of a parking lot on the beach. The beach is too small and there are too many vehicles (and visitors) to do it any other fair way.

I don't think anyone got what they wanted from the rule. I feel pedestrian access isues came in third in line. When the superintendent presented his plan to his higher ups they most likely only took the time to add up miles and saw an inequity of area set aside for pedestrians access. I'm guessing they told the superintendent to re-figure it. This is where ORV organization's input and political maneuvering took place. The areas set aside for pedestrians for the most part are areas that had been closed to vehicle access for logistical reasons (the beach was too eroded to drive on) for years and are areas where birds historically nest and would likely have temporary resource closures anyway. ORV advocates would not trade the current ORV areas for the VFA any day. The ORV users should be thanking the superintendent instead of condemning him. He has done everything in his power to give them as much ORV access as he could. Much of VFA selected in the plan could not have been available to ORV use anyway. In reality not much new beach has been set aside for pedestrian use.

A big part of this problem is that the park’s superintendent (Mike Murray) did a poor job with the interim ORV plan (IPSMP). When Mike arrived he did everything in his power to give the ORV organizations everything they asked. It was obvious as in nearly every public meeting where ORV users stood up and publicly voiced their thanks, support and approval of his management of the Park. The interim plan was a compromise but only for the local ORV groups, as it appears they had the park mangers’ ears and the deciding input as to what compromises they could live with. So keen was Mike on getting along with the local ORV community that he even gave a historical artifact (the original base for the Cape Hatteras lighthouse lens) to the local museum in Hatteras who’s director happened to be a board member of OBPA at the time.

I know the ORV and fishing clubs organization do beach cleanups, which are commendable, but for me the environmental organizations time and effort in promoting management policies that actually keep the park in a natural and historic state are of more significance. I don’t consider ORV groups anything but another special interest group advocating for their special interest (nothing wrong with that). The Park has not addressed "primitive wilderness" as described in the enabling legislation and has not adequately addressed pedestrian access issues. Visitors like myself will still be disappointed when they visit this park. No one I know who had input in the attempt to form an ORV plan has said beach driving should be banned or that thmost beach drivers were bad stewards of the resource. ORV users are not the only ones who feel a special interest lobby has taken away their rights. For me ORV/fishing organizations are responsible for that, not Audubon and friends.

I find this humorous? You've got to recognize that it'd be adverse modification of piping plover habitat," Cape Hatteras Superintendent Mike Murray said last summer. "If the habitat is naturally occurring there, you can't go mess it up in order to ensure access and then try to spend millions to create habitat further west. It is where it is." If the habitat is "naturally occuring", seems as if all the racoons, opposum, fox, and feral cats would'nt have had to be slaughtered? I guess it's not their habitat? I guess this habitat is prime ground and very condusive to successful breeding for the plovers? Just where I'd want to make my home, a point or spit of land that gets flooded over numerous times each year. Plovers can snorkel......it's a miracle!!!!!!!!!! Mike Murray's talking out of both sides of his mouth! Common sense has taken a backseat in this country. Why would you want to take away a man (or womans) ability to make a living and provide for their families.....for a non-evolving bird? There is no industry on the island. Tourism is its industry.....or was? $120 to drive on the beach? Yeah, I'd pay as long as I can go where I want, not where the NPS wants me to go. This whole things a joke! Should I list the jokers names?

"there is no reference to a promised privilege of driving on the
beach"
There is also no reference to the department of the interior running the show, lawyers suing the park, satalite images or even computers being used on the beach, but that does not say because it is not there that it was excluded either...
Heck they do not mention bikinis either, but they are allowed.
"The reason we need lines in the sand is because not all of us
want to recreate in the middle of a parking lot on the beach. The beach
is too small and there are too many vehicles (and visitors) to do it any other
fair way."
I again will say I have not seen a person who walked to the point (including officials researching lawsuits to stop beach driving) who was not forced to walk there. This is 13 years of studies from a person who was there.

Mike Murray did the same closings in the northeast before he was hired to do the same here. There was not intent to allow ORV's to continue and he purposely allowed the Interim plan to make it easier to get the stronger anti ORV plan in the works. He even gave the real Special interest eco groups their new fuzzy poster child the plover. Before he cam along the environmentalist were attempting to protect the gohst crabs from compacted sand from the ORV's. Who knew that their old poster child would like to eat the new one. KARMA?

Why? I'm not sure why people want access to "all places" but I sure know why we do at Hatteras. This Recreational Seashore was set aside and dedicated “for the benefit and enjoyment of the American People”. "People", and I mean thousands of people for 50
years have enjoyed this recreation area- by DRIVING and FISHING Cape Point by ORV.
This is suppose to be a democracy, right? The MAJORITY of people using Cape Hatteras
prefer to access by ORV, period. It's not a glacier, it's not a battlefield.... but it is now
a battleground.

Samsdad:

When lawyers and such read something that is clearly spelled out in the enabling legislation it takes on special significance. If the E L stated that ORV access “will be” allowed you can bet the ORV access side would take it of the upmost importance. It didn’t mention it, which is the reason the Park had to come up with a plan to manage ORV use.

I didn’t say I was advocating for Cape Point (I’m not) to be a vehicle free zone. There could have been other means of access or management that was different than all or nothing. It was never considered.

I would disagree about Mike Murray having a secret plan to buddy up with the ORVers to come up with an IPSMP that would upset the environmental organizations enough to make them sue the Park. The last thing Mike wanted was a lawsuit. He just didn’t read the tea leaves all that well.

"If the E L stated that ORV access “will be” allowed you can bet the ORV
access side would take it of the upmost importance. It didn’t mention
it, which is the reason the Park had to come up with a plan to manage
ORV use."
How Obtuse can you be... Please consider the when the E.L. was formed on June 29, 1940 (Search 4x4 in 1940 and you will find 99% military vehicles) ORV's were the only form of access to the recreation that was promised (the name even states so "Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area") would always be there. ORV uses was not mentioned because these people understood that is how you get there. 99% of ORV users do so to get there. "There" is the place where the individual wants to see this island and by limiting the "There" component "There" becomes "Elsewhere".

It is interesting to read the comments here and barely a mention of the human beings who rely on the tourism which includes access to the beaches. These humans have lived there for generations. There is little industry besides fishing and tourism there. Do you not feel any sense of compassion to your fellow man?
The closures have affected the tourism. That is a black and white fact. Businesses are closing, people are leaving or contributing to the increasing levels of unemployment. If anyone here has not been to these beaches and witnessed the care and respect shown especially by the fishing community, I would suggest taking a look before you cast your vote.
Remember this is a National Recreation Area. Not a National Park
Please sign this petition to support getting these closures removed.
http://www.change.org/petitions/the-us-senate-remove-the-orv-rule-and-provide-free-and-open-access

CHNS is not a recreation area. There are 18 national recreation parks and 10 national seashore administered by the NPS. CHNS is one of the 10 national seashores. The NPS dropped, "and Recreation Area" when referring to this park years ago. ORV access advocates use the amended antiquated name Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Recreation Area erroneously believing that by referring to the National Seashore as a recreation area it grants them ORV access privileges.

The economic indicators for Dare County and Hatteras Island don’t suggest economic collapse. ORV advocates pontificate that the Park’s ORV plan has or will cause economic collapse of Hatteras Island and hype local economic collapse as a way to further their special interest, ORV access.

THE NPS received a large number of written comments indicating that ORV use in the National Seashore (in addition to resource concerns) constitutes recreational conflicts for visitors who want to recreate on beaches that are not ORV routes.

The Park’s recent ORV plan is an attempt to address those concerns by establishing vehicle free zones in the selected ORV plan. ORV organizations continue to be highly critical of and lobby against vehicle free zones in the park.

To SS1
Again out of respect, we shall not argue. I will simply state that I find the content of your recent comments somewhat over the top. Enough so that I would not know where to begin to address them. You are entitled to point out your interpretation of what has been implied, promised and spelled out in the enabling legislation as well as the multitude of inpact studies. But, forgive some of us when we stop listening as you proceed to explain to us what it means. This is exactly why the issues have again been sent to the courts and now to congress. It will hopefully now be argued in those venues. Win or lose, we will live with it. No need for us to argue anymore. I will defer to CHAPA's statements in proposed litigation and Representative Walter Jones statements in proposed legislation. That pretty much sums up anything thing I would say at this point
Ron (obxguys).

[= 14px; line-height: 18px]"The NPS dropped, "and Recreation Area" when referring to this park years ago. ORV access advocates use the amended antiquated name Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Recreation Area erroneously believing that by referring to the National Seashore as a recreation area it grants them ORV access privileges."[/]
[= 14px; line-height: 18px]Do not assume as I simply believe the Recreation in the name was to differentiate from the wildlife refuge at pea island and was for ACCESS and not just ORV Access![/]
[= 14px; line-height: 18px]"[/][= 14px; line-height: 18px]The economic indicators for Dare County and Hatteras Island don’t suggest economic collapse." [/]
[= 14px; line-height: 18px]Dare county includes areas before the bonner bridge that are unaffected by these closures. Area businesses after bonner bridge are those that are affected.[/]
[= 14px; line-height: 18px]"[/][= 14px; line-height: 18px]THE NPS received a large number of written comments indicating that ORV use in the National Seashore (in addition to resource concerns) constitutes recreational conflicts for visitors who want to recreate on beaches that are not ORV routes."[/]
[= 14px; line-height: 18px]Where are these people that walked to the point before being forced to? I have never seen them so they must not exist like the over protected plovers I cannot see in the aircraft carrier size protected zones.[/]
[= 14px; line-height: 18px]"[/][= 14px; line-height: 18px]The Park’s recent ORV plan is an attempt to address those concerns by establishing vehicle free zones in the selected ORV plan. ORV organizations continue to be highly critical of and lobby against vehicle free zones in the park."[/]
VFA's are another example of my above mentioned comments that NON orv users do not use the same areas... and even if they wanted to they cannot because of extremely large bird closures...

It is a fact that CHNS is designated by the NPS as a National Seashore not a National Recreation Area.

Recreation is an important component of CHNS. Recreation is ONE of the reasons CHNS (the first National Seashore) was created. It is primary reason I visit this park.

Resource protection and ORV use have disrupted my recreational activities. The difference between the two is that resource protection is demanded by the EL, Organic Act, MBTA, GAA, Redwood Act, and the ESA while ORV access on the park beach isn’t. Recreation in this National Seashore should not be a carte blanche check for unlimited ORV access.

In addition the Park must address recreational conflicts. There are written and public comments stating categorically that there are recreational conflicts concerning ORV use in this National Seashore. Personally I appreciate being able to drive to Cape Point, for at least part of the year, and wouldn't mind walking to get there at certain times. I totally get why ORV access is important for recreational fishing. Cape Point will be open to ORV access for the majority of each year. It is paramount that some of the designated vehicle free areas (VFA) have scenic wilderness attributes to them (few do). Having some VFA situated inside of ORV routes is a good idea. Driving to a place where visitors can get out of their car and hike on a beach without deep ruts in the sand or seashells that have been ground into rubble by passing vehicles should be an option. You can still participate in all the other kinds of recreational activities in the VFA, like fishing, shell collecting, bird watching or exercising while doing it in a place that isn't a parking lot.

The problem is that the ORV access organizations are not just condemning NPS resource management but want this Seashore to be managed almost exclusively for ORV access. The current petition condemning the Park’s ORV plan, the access groups lawsuit against the NPS and Representative Jones proposed congressional bill to rescind the Park's ORV Management plan are about making all of CHNS beaches a potential ORV route. The OBPA, NCBBA, CHAC groups are suggesting to their members to not just reverse the resource protections but the VFAs as well. They are not just opposed to the amount and placement of VFA but the very premise of them, that is a fact. Read the local message boards and the aforementioned ORV access groups’ websites. Their advocacy has little to do with anything other than ORV access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore. They are actively lobbing to reverse all the VFAs in the park's new ORV plan.

where were these VFA's during neg-reg? Where were they during the consent decree? Where was the discussion of them during the public comment periods and open public forums? Guess the were dreamed up during closed session. They just kinda showed up.
Does anyone wonder why we say there is an agenda and its not about the birds and turtles. Does anyone really think it will stop here, no matter what the plan is for now. You are running out of things to throw at us SS1. Why do you go on, you won, didn't you
Ron (obxguys).

The way I see it, among other things, the ORV access side keeps harping about the other side getting everything they wanted because the ORVers still want everything. No compromising, all the beaches a potential ORV route. I wonder if they really believe cramming visitors who don't want to recreate in ORV routes into tiny roped off areas for a few months of the year is a compromise. I hear all about how they love the wildlife and have been such good stewards, whatever that means, at the same time demanding that their vehicles be allowed to drive as close as they think they need around nesting birds, their chicks and turtles any time of the day or night.

Pedestrian access issues got the short end of the stick in the ORV plan not because of conservation groups input but because of ORV organizations political involvement and their influence with local NPS mangers. I'm not at all happy with the Parks ORV plan and don't know anyone that is.

ORV access groups have no interest in the access
issues I'm interested in. They have consistently demanded that this park’s
beaches be ORV accessible. This is
what the lawsuit, the political pandering of congressmen's Jones proposed bill
to rescind the Park’s ORV plan and the current petition that is circulating is
about. Pedestrian access, resource conservation, give me a break, just more
bait and switch in the ongoing PR campaign to designate all of CHNS beaches an
ORV route

SS! you have my pity. You have taken every single thing ever said out of context. I have always stated that I believe in Access. I know for a fact as Ron states this will n ot stop here. The next efforts will be ti further restrict access because the areas they deem ORV accessable will be so over crowded that hey will now use it against access at all.

I do agree that pedestrians got shafted, but disagree to what extent... You see pedestrians do not use the areas that ORV's use as they choose not to parade themselves over hot sand and long distances. This is not a hike in the woods, but more akin to hiking in the desert. Your blatent disregard for reasonable access (Again I will mention not just ORV) is similar to those who were the forst to agree on the REGNEG and then turned around and sued when things did not go their way. These Enviro groups have attempted several times to do exactly wht they succeeded at this time. Where is the same disdain for that behavior???
You keep mentioning that ORV access was not mentioned specifically in the E.L., but you put on blinders to the fact that this was the only means of travel on the island at the time it was written. Where again were the ORV's back then and where exactly is the mention of the Ommission of ORV use in the E.L.
One sided and propoganda driven along with decades old legislation... That is indeed your agenda with the statements here
"[= 14px; line-height: 18px]ORV access groups have no interest in the access [/][= 14px; line-height: 18px]issues I'm interested in. They have consistently demanded that this park’s [/][= 14px; line-height: 18px]beaches be ORV accessible."[/]
[= 14px; line-height: 18px]Yes we would like access and it seems you would not let us have it... Who is pandering now.[/]

I believe, from everything I've read and seen over the past 7 years is that there are a lot of people on both sides of the argument that are not willing to bend. But more toward the side of the park management and the organizations protecting the birds. Are people this blind to see that most of the argument is because they are closing the point. I think that it is ludicrous that of all the miles of beach on hatteras, you pick the most important couple of miles. To me that is lack of respect to the individuals who live there and to the fisherman who visit. In case you didn't see the 20 fishing shops when you drove across the island, then this is a heads up to the blind, this is a fishing town. And you can not take a man's favorite fishing spot from him and expect no confrontation. Leave the point open, and the other popular fishing spots and shut down the other 30 or 40 miles of beach. Some of these fisherman have fished here there whole lives, and this should not end because of a bird, turtle, or any other animal. There is to much of the beaches on this island that are rarely ever used. This is were the birds should make there homes, or be relocated to. I guess I'm just amazed, with were we are today as human beings, in the regards of intelligence, that it is this difficult to appease both sides. I do not agree with what the park is doing, and I don't believe the point should EVER be closed to fisherman. It will be the dedicated fisherman/family man/hard working American, who suffers because of the ignorance of many who are not making good decisions that for the most part appease everyone.

And now our Congresscritters are wading into the surf. This is from this morning's Weekly Legislative Activities Report found on NPS Digest. (The official daily report from WASO)

On April 27th, the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands (Bishop) will hold a legislative hearing on H.R. 4094 (Jones, W., R-NC-3), to authorize pedestrian and motorized vehicular access in Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, and for other purposes, and an oversight hearing on “Access Denied: Turning Away Visitors to National Parks,” which will focus on Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Biscayne National Park. The hearing is scheduled at 10:00 am in room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building. The Department’s witness will be Bert Frost, Associate Director, Natural Resources Stewardship and Science, NPS.

About time Lee, About time...
I really hope that the bad science and poor management choices over the past few years are exposed.
Think about it, Why did it take 20 years after putting these bird on their precious list to even start talking about altering the landscape of this "Fishing Town" (sorry to steal that one Kevin in PA) But it really makes sense if you indeed have ever been to the island. As all islands they tend to lean towards the body of water to draw in visitors. Without access to the world class fishing and recreation from the beaches then the highlight of Hatteras is a lighthouse and highway 12...