Congressman Making Run To Jettison Off-Road Vehicle Rules At Cape Hatteras National Seashore

A congressman from North Carolina is making a bid to have the off-road vehicle regulations at Cape Hatteras National Seashore tossed out. NPT file photo.

It may be “back to the drawing board” for off-road vehicle rules at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Back in February North Carolina Congressman Walter B. Jones, Jr. introduced a bill to void the latest “final rules” regarding pedestrian and ORV use on the seashore. After extensive recent public comments and years of legal wrangling, those final National Park Service rules were announced on January 23 and took effect February 15.

Proponents of Rep. Jones' legislation have named H.R. 4094 the “Preserving Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Act.” If passed, the legislation would roll back management of ORVs and pedestrians to the regulations that were in place under the Interim Protected Species Management Act issued by the National Park Service in 2007.

The bill also would permit future restrictions under the Endangered Species Act, “based on peer-reviewed science and after public comment.” But it would also constrain managers’ choices, requiring that future closures under the Endangered Species Act may “only restrict, by limitation, closure, buffer, or otherwise, pedestrian and motorized vehicular access ... for the shortest possible time and on the smallest possible portions” of the Seashore.

The Act would also require that Cape Hatteras’ restrictions be “no greater than” those in place “for that species at any other National Seashore,” and that pedestrian and vehicular corridors be designated “of minimal distance on the beach or interdunal area around closures implemented” ... “to allow access to areas not closed.”

Passage of the proposed bill would specifically eliminate and make non applicable the recent “final rule” Off-Road Vehicle Management (77 Fed. Reg. 3123-3144), and the consent decree of April 30, 2008.

In March the bill was referred to the House's Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law.

On Wednesday a petition campaign was launched by the North Carolina Conservation Network in association with the Southern Environmental Law Center. The group’s petition urges North Carolinians to contact their federal legislators to oppose the bill.

The groups’ e-mail stated that, “The good news is, after an extensive review process the NPS has released a plan to limit off-road vehicle (ORV) use at Cape Hatteras. The bad news is U.S. Representative Walter Jones introduced a bill, that would circumvent the NPS’ off-road vehicle management plan and allow for ORV use across the entire park putting nesting sites for sea turtles and rare shorebirds in danger.”

Similar legislative efforts to overturn park management plans have resulted in the past after public comment periods. In 2008, U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole, both of North Carolina, offered similar legislation to overturn ORV regulations contained within a consent decree that settled a lawsuit over the seashore's lack of ORV regulations. In defending her legislation, Sen. Dole testified before the committee that her constituents were suffering undue economic hardships as a result of the consent decree.

Under that consent decree, the seashore's staff greatly restricted off-road vehicle travel and limited pedestrian travel to protect nesting shorebirds and sea turtles. Opponents of the decree, though, claimed it was over-reaching what reasonably was needed and that the economy that depends on Cape Hatteras was tanking.

Another attempt, also unsuccessful, was made in 2009 to reject the temporary ORV regulations contained in the consent decree.

In its February 2012 final rules announcement, the National Park Service said the rules designate, “ORV routes and authorizes ORV use within the Seashore in a manner that will protect natural and cultural resources, provide a variety of safe visitor experiences, and minimize conflict among users.” The announcement stated that “in general,” ORV use was prohibited off road unless specifically permitted and that an ORV permit would be required.

Comments

There are so many holes in this whole ORV management story It makes me sick...
You have the proposal by Rep Jones that wants the clock turned back...
You have the fact that the NPS is allowed to add a fee for use to one specific group and use the fees collected to give an alternate group more access even though they do not take advantage of the access they already have.
The NPS is allowed to restrict access to a specific group while charging them a fee for the possibility of access without providing access to all that are charged. The new limitations will restrict and constrict the users of the beaches in Hatteras to the point of a VA beach or similar. Not to mention that the promised parking lots and access Ramps have to pass through so much red tape that they like the bonner bridge will never be built (or Rebuilt). The NPS should have been forced to delay the release and implemintation of these new rules until they had ALL the pieces in place and not just the restricting ones.
See these two signs seen on the beaches and this is a more accurate picturee of what you can expect to find when you attend these once great beaches...
Special thanks to the SELC, Audubohn, and Defenders as well as the DOI and NPS...

This bill has the support of several members of Congress from NC and surrounding states, including the current House Majority Whip. The petition campaign has also garnered nearly 20,000 signatures to date.

Many people have been spurred into action due to the fact that many of the areas set up in the Final Rule that were supposed to be Pedestrian-only "Vehicle Free Areas" are marked with signs instructing you to "Walk in the water only", and to "Leave No Footprints Behind".


http://i39.tinypic.com/14awfwl.jpg

Kind of hard to enjoy your vehicle-free day at the beach with either young or old family members who must stay knee-deep in the surf and never touch dry sand.

This movement is going away any time soon. In fact, it's just getting started.

The dots at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area are now connected:
Eliminate the vehicles and nesting increases.
Eliminate the people and nesting increases.
Eliminate the dogs and nesting increases.
Eliminate the kites and nesting increases.
Walk only in the water and nesting increases.
Kill all the predators (animals and birds) and nesting increases.
Hey, if the weather helps us out, nesting increases.

Now lets charge a nice permit fee ($120/calendar year- $50/week) and make it inconvenient to obtain (In person only at 3 locations 50 miles apart) and maybe that will help complicate
things more.

Do it all at the same time and nobody can say what really caused anything. Not that it matters.
We are making Audubon, DOW, Southern Environmental Law Center Attorneys Happy and Wealthy as they continue to sue us, the FederalGovernment, in the name of Conservation.

The DOI and NPS are systematically removing us from the lands they manage. Look at a few of the lawsuits and public issues before DOI and NPS over ......uranium mining in AZ, oyster farming in Point Reyes,CA,snowmobiles in Yellowstone, MT, ORV on Big Cypress, FL, oil pipelines in NE, the right to gather on the 4th of July at Yorktown Victory Center, VA.

Those of you in Texas: Padre Island will now have a reduced speed limit due to the final rule at Cape Hatteras.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area will become the boilerplate for NPS rules.........Those plovers and turtles came in handy, didn't they ???

Wake up America and have your Congressman co sponsor Mr. Jones bill #4094. Ms. Feinstein (CA), Mr. Harris (MD), Mr. Rigell (VA), Mr. Cantor (VA)........can you see whats happening in your home state and all across America?

This bill is a ridiculous pander to special interests: ORV manufacturers and riders -- a very vocal minority that cares nothing for the land their usage irretrievably damages.

This bill is a ridiculous pander to special interests: ORV manufacturers and riders -- a very vocal minority that cares nothing for the land their usage irretrievably damages.

Paulette,

1.) To date, there have been no ORV manufacturers involved in any pro-ACCESS litigation concerning CHNSRA. (No tobacco companies, big oil, or The Heartland Institute either)

In point of fact, ORV manufacturer Toyota is a big financial contributor to none other the National Audubon Society, who in actuality represent the anti-access contingent in this affair.

http://www.toyota.com/about/philanthropy/environment/audubon.html

2.) The 2007 NPS "Interim Plan" that preceded the Final Ruling of this year issued a "FONSI" on beach driving, an acronym that means "Finding of No Significant Impact", so your above statement is not only greatly exaggerated and misleading, it is an outright falsehood.

http://www.nps.gov/caha/parkmgmt/upload/CAHA_IPSMS_FONSI_Final071307.pdf

3.) It is also in extremely poor taste to claim that an entire segment of society "care(s) nothing for the land" simply because they choose to reach their beach destinations via ORV.

Paulette
I am confused are you speaking of the thousands of signs and miles of string and posts the NPS put on the beaches or possibly the tons of trash not able to be picked up by the users of Cape Hatteras?
according to WIKIPEDIA... you are a special interest group...
"A Special Interest Group (SIG) is a community with an interest in advancing a specific area of knowledge, learning or technology where members cooperate to effect or to produce solutions within their particular field, and may communicate, meet, and organize conferences. They may at times also advocate or lobby on a particular issue or on a range of issues but are generally distinct fromAdvocacy groups and pressure groups which are normally set up for the specific political aim; the distinction is not firm however and some organizations can adapt and change their focus over time."
please note the signs I attached pictures of are on VFA beaches (Vehicle Free Area)
Seems the NPS at Point Reyes are not the only ones being questioned on Scientific study falsification...
http://obsentinel.womacknewspapers.com/articles/2010/04/07/top_stories/tops269.txt
Protocols were peer reviewed - or not
Seems our esteemed Government is not able to accurately cover up its own fabrications.

And here we go. Knew it wouldn't take long!

Some of us do not accept for face value what the NPS is selling and that is hard for those that do to understand. Check everything, because I assure you they did not and half the time did not have the resources available to do the work they claimed.PS Old Ranger some of us believe in something that is worth fighting for, where as some just sit back and point fingers!

On another note the NPS has been questioned dozens of times on why it does not keep the closure areas up to date for visitors to insure they can provide the activities sought out by vacationers. They currently do not update the list of areas closed and imagine spending thousands of dollars on a rental and 50.00 on a permit only to find beaches listed as open (see sign above) severely restricted to you standing in the water the whole time. You are also shocked because you were told therfe were miles of beaches open to ORV only to find most is now closed or packed due to further restrictions.
Just because you booked a room on an island do not expect to see the sea...

You might as well rename CHNS to Dare County ORV Recreation Park if the Interim plan is put into place.The local ORV groups had pulled all the right strings and believed the Interim Plan would be the foundation for the final plan. That Interim Plan was developed by Superintendent Murray when he was the darling of the local ORV access groups. Back then at public meetings the same ORV access advocates publicly expressed their deep gratitude, praising Superintendent Murray for his good work. It was all nod nod wink wink between the superintendent and the local ORV access advocates then (it is a different story now).The Interim Plan gave little concessions to conservation groups. As a result of this the plan did not address documented recreational conflicts between ORV access and non ORV access, did not adequately address safety concerns for pedestrians on ORV beaches and did not implement the USGS recommendations for protecting nesting birds and turtles in CHNS. It is believed by many ( but not tested) that the plan will not satisfy a number of congressional acts. The Interim Plan is overwhelmingly biased for ORV access.As much as I am upset by the final plan (little consideration for NPS esthetics, poorly designed vehicle free areas and restricted access) going back to the Interim Plan would be a huge step backwards. All the crocodile tears about the pedestrian access is kind of funny because the Jones's bill would change all of those areas back into ORV areas. There would be next to no vehicle free areas if the Interim Plan was put into affect.

SS1, agreed on reverting back to the interim would not be the best way to go. Also agreed that the NPS did not think this new plan through. They also are (in my opinion) about to be exposed on the inability to back the science they used to get here in the first place. As neither of us are politically connected (I assume)I guess we will have to wait and see how this all plays out. Until then I will spend my spare time like i did today climbing trails with my kids At places like Crabtree falls and humpback rock overlook instead of fishing and sandcastles in hatteras.

Been to Crabtree Falls, beautiful place. I can't remember the name of the campground near there but remember my young daughter playing in the mountain stream near our campsite. Maybe we are not so far apart as I thought.

Trip to Crabtree went extremely well. Took the back off road to the upper parking area and hiked to the falls and then proceeded down to see the falls from the lower viewing areas. There were several camping areas along the route in along the streams we will try in the future.

It’s the "Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area” America! It was never deemed to provide an area as large as an air craft carrier for one nesting bird called the National Bird Nesting Area People!

FACT: Visitors do not come to places that deny access. Without access one cannot recreate!

Go to

http://www.preservebeachaccess.org/newsreleases/special_history_name.pdf which shows ….

The Dare County campaign to preserve access to America’s beaches refers to the first national seashore as the “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.”. The full name of the “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area” is historically accurate and serves to remind us today of the unique recreational heritage of the first national seashore. The founding pioneers called it by this name at the official dedication ceremony.

Preserving this name will help future generations understand the history, tradition and recreational purpose of the “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.”. A study of history reveals the importance of including the words “Recreational Area” today.

-June 29, 1940, Congress amends the enabling legislation and the words “Recreational Area” are added to further emphasize the recreational nature of the seashore as a destination for beachgoers and fishermen.

-On May 10, 1954, the National Park Service gave administrative permission for the staff to use the shorter name “Cape Hatteras National Seashore” in all but the most formal memoranda and legal documents in place of the more cumbersome “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.” This administrative short cut created a nickname, but never changed the official name.

-At the official dedication ceremony on April 24, 1958, representatives of

both the Department of Interior and the National Park Service repeatedly

referred to it as the “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.”

-Although the full name with the words “Recreational Area” subsequently fell from use by the Department of Interior and the National Park Service,

it was never officially changed by Congress.

CHRONOLOGY OF THE NAME –

-June 23, 1936 Passage of the Park, Parkway and Recreational Area Study Act

-August 17, 1937 Act of Congress establishes the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to provide recreational access to the general public

-June 29, 1940 Congress amends the authorizing legislation to permit hunting. At the same time the term “Recreational Area” was added to the park’s name o address NPS sensitivity to the issue of hunting and to further

emphasize the “recreational” nature of the seashore as a destination for beachgoers and fishermen.

-May 10, 1954 NPS determines administratively that the name “Cape Hatteras National Seashore” may be substituted in all but the most formal

memoranda and legal documents for the cumbersome “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area”

April 24, 1958 Remarks made at the official dedication ceremony:

* Asst. Secretary of the Interior, Robert Ernst…”It is a privilege to represent the Department of the Interior at this dedication of the country’s first national seashore recreational area.

* Conrad Wirth, Director of the National Park Service made 3 references

1. “The Service recommended that the Cape Hatteras National Seashore be preserved as a National Park Recreational Area.”

2. ....”Secretary of the Interior formally established the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area.”

2. “We take great pride in being intrusted with the administration of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area

ksw40bx,
There's another date and point not to overlook, from the seashore's enabling legislation:

August 17, 1937 -- Except for certain portions of the area, deemed to be especially adaptable for recreational uses, particularly swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, and other recreational activities of similar nature, which shall be developed for such uses as needed, the said area shall be permanently reserved as a primitive wilderness and no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors shall be undertaken which would be incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna or the physiographic conditions now prevailing in this area . . .

After more than 70 years, the seashore still hasn't gotten around to designating wilderness.

Regardless of whether or not you want to define the place as a "National Seashore" or "Recreation Area", it's still under NPS control. As someone who has visited quite a few of both, there may not actually be a difference in management given the inherent qualities of the area.

At Golden Gate NRA, there are specific issues that NPS is dealing with because of the Endangered Species Act, as well as other laws. Regardless of what you want to call it, they're not going to be able to override the ESA. Of course I have heard that some CAHA ORV enthusiasts have been trying to get a modification of the ESA.

NPS weekly resource report for April9,2012

65.8 miles of beach access

+ 15.0 miles Pea IslandNational Wildlife Refuge

80.8 total shoreline miles within Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area

22.7 miles open for ORV access = 28% Open (far different than NPS, Audubon, DOW or SELC advertise)

Oregon Inlet Spit-closed, Cape Point-closed, Hatteras Inlet-closed, Ocracoke Island South Point-closed.

[= 12pt]WHY?[/]

[= 12pt] 1 Piping Plover nest (Cape Point)[/]

[= 12pt] 3 American Oyster Catcher nests (Hatteras Island – somewhere)[/]

[= 12pt] 0 Colonial Waterbird nests[/]

[= 12pt] 0 Turtle nests[/]

[= 12pt] [/]

[= 16pt]Thousands of Easter week visitors being told that NPS does not want you here in your National Seashore Recreation Area[/].

An Open Letter to the National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Southern Environmental Law Center

If I didn’t know better I would believe you.I love our national parks and favor conservation.Politically I am an independent who leans left on the environment.If I didn’t know better I would probably believe every word written by Ms. Sanders in Audubon Magazine and in a press release on the Audubon Society of NC website and in an editorial piece on the Defenders of Wildlife website.But, I do know better and I find your use of propaganda on this issue to be offensive and morally repugnant.I found each of these pieces lacking in objectivity and to have purposefully omitted important facts and in several cases used language that seemed designed to distort the truth or at best showed a clear lack of understanding for the situation.I know better because I know the Outer Banks of North Carolina quite well.

In none of these articles do you address the ORV permit fee.The beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on Bodie Island, Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island have been free to all whether on foot or in a 4 wheel drive vehicle since their creation.The implementation of an arbitrary and substantial fee is completely ignored by you.Who does the fee benefit?What programs are being funded with this revenue? Is there the potential for a conflict of interest?I can tell you who it hurts; those who can least afford another bill in their life.If your argument is that the fee structure will reduce ORV use on the beach then my response is, "yes, low income families will no longer be able to drive on the beach, while the rich ones will".If the goal of the fee is not to limit traffic then why is there a fee?

I also find that all of these articles refer to ORV enthusiasts as if they were some motorcycle gang tearing up the beach in dune buggies.The vast majority of people who drive on the OBX beaches are families and fishermen who drive down the beach at 10-15mph and are just looking for bit of solitude and sand to call their own for the day.In a similar vein I found comments on your website and others referring to the "National Parking Lot" to be outright fabrication and a means of manipulating public opinion.In the 30 years that I've been visiting Hatteras Island I've never seen anything resembling a parking lot and the only really high density area that I've seen is the Cape Point in mid-summer or during a fishing tournament.By shrinking the area open to ORVs you are actually creating a scenario by which more people will be crammed into a smaller space.You've completely ignored the fact that for decades huge areas of the OBX beaches have been closed to ORVs in the summer: most of Bodie Island, Pea Island Wildlife Refuge and in front of all the villages on Hatteras Island.The tenor of your articles makes it seem like that before this new set of rules it was chaos.That is not true.The only thing these new rules have really accomplished is to shrink the area of beach that can be driven on, particularly around Cape Hatteras Point, thereby increasing the likelihood that the so-called parking lot will actually appear someday as the space is squeezed tighter and tighter by more and more restrictions; and to charge a fee for something that was one of the last great free things that you could do east of the Mississippi.

I found your comments about the safety of children to be utterly ridiculous.You make it sound like vehicles are just driving into areas dominated by pedestrian beach goers.The children who were playing on the beach in areas where ORVs were allowed, most likely got there in their parents SUV.I always felt that my own son was completely safe playing on those beaches provided I actually acted like his parent and supervised him.The new pedestrian only area south of Cape Hatters Point is also a joke.People are not going to be lugging their kids through a mile of sand dunes for a day at the beach.I've hiked to the Cape Hatteras Point and it's not easy.I've also driven on the section of beach now reserved for pedestrians and the ORV traffic was sparse.The pedestrian traffic was non-existent.Now the vehicles that used to park there will most likely end up at the Cape Point.I have to wonder if this part of your larger strategy to shut the Cape Hatteras Point down to all human traffic.I know those new pedestrian only areas will be deserted, which I’m guessing is your ultimate goal.While I’m writing this, the fact is that the entire Cape Hatteras Point is closed to all traffic including pedestrians and from Haul Over to Frisco is essentially closed to ORV traffic for a total distance of over 10 miles.Is it really necessary to shut down that much of the beach for nesting?

I began this by stating that I was a left of center independent who is pro-conservation.I have to tell you that you’ve alienated me and now I understand all of the vitriol that I’ve seen expressed toward environmental groups and “liberals”.You’ve shown almost no understanding of the long term fallout from activities such as these.You may say that you’ve made efforts to work with the locals who’ve built their lives on sliver sand but your articles reflect that you haven’t.You’ve managed to alienate the people who should be your biggest supporters, the citizens who love what you love.Rather than training and educating the locals to carry your flag, you’ve created enemies.You didn’t pick a fight with big oil or a logging or mining company.You picked a fight with families.We all want to preserve the Outer Banks of NC and all the other special beautiful places in our country but you’re not going to be able to sustain that by going to court.How long do you think your rules will last if we have a republican senate and president?You chose to sue rather than educate.You’ve made it more difficult for people like me and our political leaders to embrace conservation.For now on I will read your propaganda with my eyes open and hope that someday when these rules are repealed via legislation that your methods will change.

Dear Mr. Cleveland,

I have been away from this board for a while because of the frustration, I guess. Figured I would do better writing to the legislators. Who knows ? I don't know why I logged on today, but I did. I have learned to accept some things without question (if you know what I mean) and was one of them.

Who knows, may be missin Kurt a little bit. Still consider him a friend though he can be tough sometimes.

I did read some of the article about the young intern first, to which I have no comment. I then went to this article. Don't know why, just did and I did so a little differently. I went straight to the end of the comments. The last paragraph of the last comment. Your comment. I will not get into the nuts and bolts of it. I will just say thanks. You nailed it. And yes, there are a few of us out there that know what's going on.

If you have not seen it, you may be interested in a recent guest column by Mr. Bob Davis in the Island Free Press concerning wildlife protection at Cape Hatteras.

That's all'

Ron (obxguys)

Ron put it the way it is, families were ensured by legislation back in the 1930s that the CHNS was a national treasure to be enjoyed and ACCESSED by ALL! Now we have to just about refight the revolutionary war to get our rights of free access to OUR national seashore back. I was taught to surf fish by my dad there, and I want to teach my grandkids to fish there too. I want passed to my posterity too, not just to the wealthy or the well connected. It seems thats the way it it headed if people don't act.