A settlement over off-road vehicle travel at Cape Hatteras National Seashore will not ban ORV travel, but it will restrict it at times throughout the year, according to the National Park Service.
The settlement, which fends off a lawsuit filed by conservation groups concerned that ORVs were over-running bird and turtle habitat, was announced today by the Park Service. It provides guidelines to protect nesting areas for piping plovers and other species while also allowing recreational opportunities for park visitors.
Specifically, the settlement allows ORV beach access to remain open year-round and is not expected to affect the fall or winter fishing seasons.
At the same time, the consent decree that was filed with the court on April 16 will create buffers around portions of the spring and summer bird breeding and nesting areas, including the creation of a "1,000-meter vehicle perimeter and a 300-meter pedestrian perimeter around piping plover chicks until they have fledged," the Park Service said in a release.
Cape Hatteras Superintendent Mike Murray calls the settlement a “positive step to resolve the issues raised in the lawsuit and will allow us to focus our effort on development of the long–term ORV management plan and regulation."
The compromise is seen as preventing a year-round shutdown of ORV access to six popular fishing areas.
This issue has been one of the most contentious to come up on the Traveler in recent months. If you're a member of the seashore's ORV or conservation communities, tell us what you think of the settlement.