Record of Decision on Cape Hatteras National Seashore ORV Plan OKed, But Implementation Months Away

Although an off-road vehicle plan has been approved for Cape Hatteras National Seashore, it will be months before it actually is implemented. NPS photo.

While the final paperwork has been signed concerning an off-road management plan at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the arduous task of formalizing a rule means the seashore will continue to operate next summer under a consent decree.

The National Park Service's Southeast Region office signed off Monday on the seashore's preferred alternative for managing ORV traffic in a way to protect bird and sea turtle species that receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. To mark the occasion, Tom Strickland, the assistant Interior secretary who oversees fish and wildlife and parks, congratulated the Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for developing a plan that blends recreation and species protection.

"The work of these two agencies shows that the conservation of fish and wildlife and its habitat on the Outer Banks can be consistent with the transportation, recreation, and economic needs of local communities,” said Mr. Strickland in a statement. “I applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service for their commitment to engaging the local communities, gathering ideas, and applying the best science to guide wise management decisions.”

An ORV management plan has been long in coming for Cape Hatteras, though it remains to be seen whether this plan will survive intact. In 2007 two conservation groups -- the Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife -- sued the National Park Service for lacking an ORV management plan at Cape Hatteras, which offers nesting and breeding habitat for piping plovers (a threatened species) and five species of sea turtles (Kemp’s ridley, leatherback and hawksbill are all listed as endangered species, while the loggerhead and green are listed as threatened in North Carolina).

Under a consent decree issued as a result of the lawsuit, and intended to guide ORV use on Cape Hatteras until a formal ORV plan could be adopted, tight regulations have governed ORV travel -- overnight driving was banned and temporary closures at times were enacted during breeding seasons.

The ORV plan that the seashore arrived at has been criticized as overkill by ORV and surf caster groups -- they argue the federal government has greatly exaggerated the threat posed to wildlife by ORV driving on the beach, and that the current rules make it unreasonably difficult to get to traditionally popular fishing areas -- and termed lacking by conservationists, who say it fails to provide adequate year-round protections for wildlife.

Under the Record of Decision signed Monday, the one both sides have criticized, new parking areas will be built along Highway 12 as well as new access ramps to the beach, and a new trail will allow pedestrians to walk down through the dunes to the beach. It also provides for a "seasonal night-driving restriction ... established from 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. during turtle nesting season, although areas with no turtle nests could open to night driving from September 16 through November 15." Additionally, it calls for an "alternative transportation study and would encourage the establishment of a beach shuttle or water taxi."

Overall, the approved plan will allow for 27.9 miles of year-round designated ORV routes on the seashore, 12.7 miles of seasonal routes, and 26.4 miles of vehicle-free miles.

Whether this option will be challenged in court remains to be seen.

While the Record of Decision has been approved, much work remains before the ORV plan will actually be implemented at Cape Hatteras, according to seashore Superintendent Mike Murray.

The Record of Decision was needed before the seashore staff could draft a proposed rule, which in turn must be approved by both the Interior Department and Office of Management and Budget, the superintendent said Monday. Then draft rule then must be published in the Federal Register and go through a 60-day public comment period, he continued.

After the comment period closes, seashore staff must review the comments and, if necessary, tweak the draft proposed rule.

“The likelihood is that the proposed rule will be published in the first quarter of the new year," said Superintendent Murray. "The final rule is likely to be published sometime in the summer.”

Rather than change the management direction in mid-summer, seashore officials will wait until the fall before implementing the new ORV management plan.

"It would be challenging for everybody. It's kind of hard to switch horses in the middle of a busy season like that," Superintendent Murray said. “We’ll operate under the consent decree until then.”

Comments

Kurt in the same area a "Record of decision" was signed also for the construction of the new bridge alongside the old one. That is until the Enviro law suit comes into play.

As far as the above... We will see when it is finally completed if I ever go back. There are too many variables in play here that go against the ORV Crowd. Those 27.9 miles that are open to ORV travel will for the most part close down as of April 2011 due to predetermined pre nesting and then actual nesting. So the term "Year Round" Is only to pacify those who do not know the truth and give some groups ammo for stating that the ORV groups have more mileage than the birds. Even though this is like all other items in this document a "False Truth" created to pacify the masses.

Kurt, I'm going to send you a brush and paint for Christmas to help you continue white washing the facts and well-being of the people of Cape Hatteras in the coming turbulent year.

Let's take your post from the beginning -- in calling this an Off Road Vehicle (ORV) management plan. No one is buying that term anymore. We all know that the beaches become closed. Period. To all human access. Walk over and pick up a seashell beyond an enclosure and you can be ticketed. Happens to unwary tourists often, who, by the way, don't come back.

I'm glad to see everyone congratulating each other now with big pats on the back after 30 years of not doing their job. I think if it took me 30 years to mow my grass, my neighbors would probably do the same. Had Parks done their job as mandated by President Nixon THIRTY years ago we would not be having this discussion. I'll jump points here, if they don't listen to a president, what will be the point of having public commentary later?

To say this plan 'blends' recreation and species protection is ludicrous and disingenuous. There is no blend. If a Plover nests, over a mile of beach is closed until the chicks fledge. CLOSED. Not blended. Regarding the assistant secretary's comment about considering the economic needs of the area...consider this -- over 50 businesses have closed since the closures began and many more are teetering. A business owner from Cape Hatteras said on FOX & Friends yesterday his business loses over $30,000 each summer now, since the closures began. Perhaps he hasn't blended yet.

Also, to imply the protesters of these actions are the "ORV crowd" and surfcasters and cubbyhole them as boisterous yahoos is also absurd. But they are correct. The closures are exaggerated and extreme and follow no rational science whatsoever. The 1.2 mile (1,000 meters both ways) buffer zone for one nest is an arbitrary number, one not used anywhere else, and for all intent closes a beach or access to one. There is absolutely no science in place here approved by any group or peer group outside of the NPS or Audubon or DOW.

I do think, however,it's wise to remain under the consent decree the summer. It's good to keep public outrage at a minimum during heavily trafficked periods. What's very, very sad to me is the clear and obvious backlash that is mushrooming against the environmental movement because of the lack of science, perspective and rational thinking. If history has taught us anything, to divide and conquer always leads to rebellion, and I fear that the good intentions of environmentalism will be forgotten and trashed by coming generations.

The organizations associated with the rule-making process, as mentioned in the article, are quick to pat themselves on that back for the continuation of a self-fulfilling strategic agenda. Mr. Strickland’s rhetoric implying significant community involvement with the development of a final plan demonstrates a lack of local awareness or an intentionally deceptive overview of the process. The citizens of Hatteras Island are overwhelmingly against an increase in beach restrictions. The local, and majority pro-access position is held largely in part to documented, detrimental effects felt by beach closures in regards to the mentioned “transportation, recreation, and economic needs of local communities.” The studies that many of the decision-making bodies hide behind are internally implemented, managed, and interpreted. The science being used is the only available due to large cost, but represents a governing conflict of interest that produces scientific evidence best described as invalid. To label those who criticize the new plan into “ORV and surf caster groups” is a mistakenly narrow perspective perpetuating both, misinformation and issue ignorance. The positions of the National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service lack the crucial scientific, social, environmental, and economic balance in which they claim to hang their hat. The upcoming 60 day public comment period is essential in establishing America’s voice in frustration to inept political entities, in the effort to preserve a treasured piece historic national recreational area.

Um, Jeff, I didn't use the term "ORV crowd." That was actually from an ORV supporter. And "boisterous yahoos" was your term, not a description in the article above.

That said, it was entirely accurate to say the plan was opposed by "ORV and surfcaster groups." And I don't think writing that those groups "argue the federal government has greatly exaggerated the threat posed to wildlife by ORV driving on the beach, and that the current rules make it unreasonably difficult to get to traditionally popular fishing areas" is a white wash or an exaggeration.

As far as tourists who "don't come back," according to the Dare County Visitor's Bureau July's vacation rentals along Cape Hatteras were at a record high; the motels, hotels, B&Bs, and campgrounds took in $101.7 million in July, a 16 percent increase over July 2009 revenues.

There are arguments on both sides of this issue, no doubt. Neither side is happy with the current proposal. If it takes another decade to resolve this issue, as has been the case with Yellowstone snowmobiles, no one wins.

True, on the "yahoos." That was meant as implied as it's worded. As far as the ORV and surfcasting community the entire argument, as well as this post, either says directly or implies that the people unhappy with the closures are those communities.

On the tourism numbers -- an enormous misrepresentation of facts. I haven't read your bio, so I will assume you're not from the Outer Banks area. If you are, you're aware that Dare County is a very long strip of land, and it's two worlds. The northern end of the cape, with Kitty Hawk and the heavily commercialized areas are indeed up. There are no closures there and it's very much a toned down "Myrtle Beach" type of destination. South of the Bonner Bridge, 40 plus miles away, it's a completely different world. Little commercialization aside from rental units, shops, and of course, beach. Walk in ANY shop, store, restaurant, and ask anyone there if the closures have affected their business. You will hear a resounding YES. Bar none.

And yes, you are right, those groups adamantly oppose the buffers as currently imposed. They are completely unreasonable.

"Yahoos" was not implied in the article, Jeff.

Sorry. Stated a while back that I wouldn't be posting any more but, here I am. This will be a little different. Spurred by something that Mr. Johnson said.
I look back in time and must admit I have been in agreement with a great deal that the Environmental community has brought to our attention and the good they have accomplished. I preferred to think of myself as a part of that community, though not agreeing all the time. During this same period of time I hunted, fished, got an education, served my country, worked and now am semi retired. I always felt I could do these things and maintain a respectful attitude as to the environment. Along the way I developed a love for surf fishing and enjoyed driving to The Point to do so. All with the greatest respect for nature and it's wonders. I love everything about God and what he has given us.
However, somewhere along the way, my feelings began to change. I began to look at the Environmentalist community differently. I started associating them with bad lawyers. I say bad because I am friends with some really nice ones. Actually, I have to admit, I have friends in the environmental community that I feel are great people. As everyone knows, I am part of the dreaded ORV community. Don't want to short the NPS. I unfortunately like some of those folks. Love to talk to them on the beach, especially during Operation Beach Respect, and at meetings.
Just as the environmental groups and NPS are made up up some very nice people, I would note that the ORV community is made up of surfers, shellers, kayakers, bathers, children, teenagers, parents, grandparents, greatgrandparents as well as fishermen and women. I see all these people enjoying the beach side by side and interacting with each other. It's wonderful. Now, I would be remiss if I didn't admit there is an occassional group that even I feel participates in undesirable activity. And yes, there needs to be control for this. Unfortunately that exists in every area of our lives. Yes, there needs to be control for the benefit of the birds and turtles. EVERYONE loved them before they became a fire cracker with the fuse lit being tossed back and forth.
Now the point. Every group mentioned above consist of people. I believe mostly good people. Friends and neighbors. I believe that there is undoubtedly some involved with less than desirable motivation and intentions, saying things they don't really believe in their heart, for whatever reason. But. what has brought us to this point? What has brought us to harbor such feelings toward one another as groups? As Mr. Johnson stated, what is going to be the aftermath of this. Will this forever turn group against group. Man against man. I don't think these feelings started entirely with the issue at hand, but it sure has changed me and my general perception of the environmental community and NPS, as far as groups go. I expect those groups feel the same about me. I don't like any of it. Bad thing is, I guess everyone believes they are right and justified. Saddest thing will be if we look back and realize we destroyed what could have been a good partnership for whatever reason, you try and convince yourself, you did it for. Those that are wrong will know it soon enough, if they don't already.
Merry Christmas Kurt, Jeff, NPS and all the ORV Gang

Ron (obxguys)

Another downfall for Cape Hatteras will be the permit ruling. If they decide on daily, weekly, or even yearly permits and out cost the visitors such as other parks this will surely restrict the people who visit. It is also stated that those who want the permits will have to obtain them in person which will bog down the already understaffed NPS. The only benefit will be that it would accurately show the numbers of visitors who choose to access the beaches by ORV. This is something I agree with the gentlemen above is that the number for visitation are greatly skewed because of the inclusion of the northern non driving beaches. That world and the world on the island are two different entities and cannot be combined and still be used to reflect this issue. Though it would be unpopular I suggest adding permits to all who choose to use the beaches and not just the ORV crowd. This could be added at the new bridge entrance just like Skyline drive NP and it would be much more accurate of the activities of all visitors who frequent the island. Using skewed numbers like they do simply is unacceptable.

Ron, well put. Until the us against them mentality goes away, there will never be consensus.

Environmentalism has its extremist like any other group (e.g. politics, religion, etc.), but I 100% disagree with the statement that this movement will be looked down upon in the future. Jeff, do you enjoy clean air? Do you enjoy clean water? Do you enjoy endless outdoor opportunities on public lands? If you answered yes to any of these questions, thanks an environmentalist. Remember when the Cuyahoga River caught fire because it was so dirty? Have there been some less that stellar moments for the movement as a whole, sure, but overall, it has made out environment, locally, nationally and even globally a little bit better (at the very least not worse).

I, for one, am thankful for the NPS, USFS and the FWS for working very hard (often for little pay) to protect our resources around the country so that I may have the PRIVILEGE of recreating in these areas (not to mention preserving habit for wildlife that often has no where else to go). Remember, public land is a relatively new idea, I am fairly confident that without the public lands managed by the feds (as imperfect as they may be), much of our beloved outdoor recreation areas would be privately owned and we would not be able to use them at all.

Matt, I know at least some other parks -- Cape Cod National Seashore comes immediately to mind -- already require permits for ORVs, and it's not that big of a deal. Frankly, more of a hassle is the lack of parking at many beaches at Cape Cod. In some you park your rig in a lot away from the beach and ride a shuttle to the beach...hauling all your gear with you. It can be a pain, but it's the only way to deal with huge crowds and limited parking.

Counting each and every visitor, while it would be helpful in terms of head counts, likely would be more difficult with multiple entrances. But it'd be interesting to explore.

Kurt,

Would it be too much to ask you to reply to Mr. Johnston's comments about the tourism numbers and not just the "yahoos" comments? I've always respected and admired your even handed approach to this issue, but, when you come back with nothing substantive (nothing at all, actually) when challenged on the tourism issue, it appears you are now being spoon fed by the NGO's that have worked so hard to circumvent the law in closing beaches to orvs.

Thank you, and I'll understand if you don't publish my comments.

Dave,

Regarding tourism numbers, true, it's difficult to gauge from afar, but here are some stats from the NPS:

* Overall, tourism year-to-date at Cape Hatteras is at a little more than 2.1 million, vs. 2.2 million a year ago, so down just under 4 percent;

* Bodie Island visitation is down 4.3 percent, to just more than 2 million;

* Both Ocracoke and Whalebone Junction visitor centers are up (2.3% and 10.6%), while Bodie Island VC and Hatteras Island VC are both down (33.9% and 3.7%). Any idea why Whalebone Junction would be up double digits, and Hatteras Island VC down more than one-third? A 40 percent swing in just a few miles? Seems like an anomaly.

* Cape Hatteras Lighthouse visitation is also down (5.2%), but that's likely do to the restoration work, no?

* RV campers are up 1.1 percent, tent campers down 4.3 percent.

So overall visitation is down, with some positive pockets. In light of the big increases at parks such as Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, etc, this is a bit surprising.

All that said Dave, I haven't had time to break out all the economics of Frisco, and Buxton, etc, and while I don't summarily dismiss Jeff's comments re businesses and the effects the closures have had, I also haven't seen an entirely unbiased report from either side -- NGOs or ORV, surf casters, etc, etc. That's why I hope to visit Cape Hatteras next year.

If indeed you do visit next year please let me and Mr. Pitt know as we can give you a nickel tour of why we say what we say. We can also show you why so many are passionate about this place.

PS Whalebone Junction is located nearest to the northern beaches than the Island. Simple knowledge of the make up of the island along with common sense will tell anyone (I think)
that when the beaches start closing on a barrier island preventing access to those beaches what else is left???????? Someone please answer that!

"Counting each and every visitor, while it would be helpful in terms of head counts, likely would be more difficult with multiple entrances"

That is not true if we used the 7 day permit issued by most national parks.

"Frankly, more of a hassle is the lack of parking at many beaches at Cape Cod."

Well it is only worse in Cape Hatteras as far as parking. Though what is the point in having parking near places where birds are nesting as there is no access at all? The new plan calls for more parking lots and walkovers. That will not happen for years as there will need to be several years worth of studies, and lawsuits first.

Oh well what happens when they charge an extra 100.00 to access the beaches for a week?

Matt,
I would also add that, as with fishing license, I would hope that beach access permits would be available " on line " and since there is only two ways to get to Hatteras and Ocrocoke Islands, being Bonner Bridge from the north and Ferry from the south, all of which could be easily documented, accurate documentation would be simple. As we have been saying all along, there is so much that is unique about Hatteras. Everyone should come there at least once and see what that place is all about. Most of the supporters of Audubon and Defenders of Wildlife ( Maybe even Southern Environmental Law Center) have little idea what that place is really like. Much less what the people are like. And especially what the beaches are like.

Ron (obxguys)

Kurt,

A final plan is most likely years away. The ORV lobby has been accumulating a war chest of money. They will go to court. The issue has become larger than just an ORV plan at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The very organized ORV/fishing users have expertly morphed this into an anti-government and anti environmental issue of intrusion of their rights (the right to drive an ORV on the ocean beach of CAHA) and a local economic hardship. They have gained support from the far right. Fox news just interviewed the president of one of the major pro ORV access to the Seashore.

I see 3 major factors for the degradation of CAHA. They are: 1. The building of the CC dunes and permanent placement of highway 12 (this has disrupted coastal process resulting in less ocean beach. 2. The complete development of all the villages on Hatteras Island that border the ocean beach. 3. The uncontrolled number of ORVs that come and use the increasingly narrow Park beach as a highway, parking lot, and staging area for their considerable amount of recreational gear.

The ORV lobby likes to portray themselves as pro-access. Their motto of “free and open access” only extends to ORV use. They have thwarted every other chance at compromising by dismissing other alternatives to ORV access. Some of the reason that beaches are closed to pedestrians has as much to do with them as it does with the conservation group.

The majority of ORV users try to be good stewards and enjoy wildlife resources on their own terms, even though most couldn’t tell you the difference between a tern and a gull or a plover or sanderling henceforth the lack of understanding of the critical nature of the resource issues at CAHA. None of the other groups who oppose the ORV management recommendations has suggested or attempted to eliminate ORV use at CAHA.

Kurt I wish you would take Matt up on his offer as after reading many of your articles I think you would be appalled at the situation in CAHA, though for a reason different than Matt’s and Ron’s.

SS!
Though I do not agree with some of the content of your comment, I would like to thank you for the tone in which it was written. You are correct in some of what you say. More importantly, you made your points without resorting to extremes and with respect some. I would hope that Kurt would not be appalled. Two factors I would like to bring up. One, The Access Groups fear the Environmental Groups. We Believe the vast majority despise us. Our feelings toward them resulted from this. We did not try to take anything away from them. We were put on the defensive and remain there. Two, The reason we fear the Environmental Groups is they tend to be extreme. Example, the 1000 meter buffers and the desire to punish all for the bad deeds of a few. There demands point to an effort to eleminate our orv use on the beach.
Had the negotiations been conducted in the proper manner, such as our conversation, things might be different today. One extreme attitude attitude begot another in return. I think we may have been taught that method of negotiating by our beloved Government. Forget rational, Go for a billion when its only worth a million. Thats fine if you end up at a million. Unfortunately, the todays mediators sometimes just say give um the billion. Hope that makes sense. I still say , no matter what is established as a policy at this time, Audubon and Defenders of Wildlife will never stop persuing their agenda until they get everything they can. This will just be the end of round one. This is their Business. Therein lies a big difference.
As to the "war chest", Man, I hope you are right. But, I'm afraid it's more like David against Galiath.
Nough said. Hope you have a Great Christmas and hope we all get a little of what we want in the coming year.

Ron (obxguys)
Va. Beach & KDH
ncbba & obpa

Wow every time I see a response from SS! I think of a Dictator from Germany so long ago.

"The ORV lobby has been accumulating a war chest of money. They will go to court. "

Really And you seem to blame those ORV Crowd types for doing so.... I see you did not criticize the Enviros and they have done this several times!!!!

"1. The building of the CC dunes and permanent placement of highway 12 (this has disrupted coastal process resulting in less ocean beach."

I see you do not mention the cutting down of all the original trees on the island long before the CC. I guess you did not either know about that or chose to ignore it. If these trees were not cut down the entire seashore landscape would be different (more like Sanibel Island in Florida) and not so inviting (if 20 or less pairs is inviting) to the Threatened Plover

"2. The complete development of all the villages on Hatteras Island that border the ocean beach."

Well if I read it right these villages were to be set aside for development and the areas in between pristine wilderness. I see that it is exactly that. OOPs forgot that their used to be trees covering the island (read the history sections on the NPS website) and if we really want to restore the island to its pre-human state then I suggest tearing down the dunes and planting trees across the entire island.

"3. The uncontrolled number of ORVs that come and use the increasingly narrow Park beach as a highway, parking lot, and staging area for their considerable amount of recreational gear."

This is not entirely true, because I have driven my 4 door Chevy Silverado onto the beach with only a bottle of water and a kayak to surf the waves. I guess my form of access is extreme to some, but I pay taxes, ORV's are an other form of recreation mentioned in the designation of the park and technically I am a future generation described in the original park designation.

"The majority of ORV users try to be good stewards and enjoy wildlife resources on their own terms, even though most couldn’t tell you the difference between a tern and a gull or a plover or sanderling henceforth the lack of understanding of the critical nature of the resource issues at CAHA."

I can tell you that none of the above are endangered! I did not realize that this was one of the criteria to enjoy Cape Hatteras???? I will Brush up on my bird recognition so I can tell the difference in a book, because with these overly huge closures you cannot see them in real life.

"None of the other groups who oppose the ORV management recommendations has suggested or attempted to eliminate ORV use at CAHA."

Really prove it.

Hey Matt,

SS stands for Southern Shores NC, where I’m writing.

I’m not criticizing ORV proponents (or conservationist) for going to court.

Whatever degradation the timber industry did by logging back in the 1600’s is long done. I don’t know of anyone who suggests that that logging had anything to do with the current (since the 10930’s) beach erosion. I doubt growing trees on the barrier island would make any difference nor do I think Hatteras Island was ever all wooded, only sections where the island was wide enough for a maritime forest to be establish. You can think what you want.

Of course the village are going to be developed nothing the Park or you can do about that, just saying.

I don’t have a problem with kayaks, surfboards, kite boards with anyone recreating with any of those things. What I have a problem with is that the amount of people concentrating all that gear basically anywhere anytime they want. To you and your friends the beach is just a staging area, for me the beach itself is an integral part of the national park experience at CAHA. It appears many of your ilk see CAHA solely as a recreation area. It was clearly intended to be more than that.

“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 . . .”

“I can tell you that none of the above are endangered!”

It doesn’t make any difference (see the enabling legislation) for instance Black Skimmers are unique to the seashore (raccoons are not).

“ "None of the other groups who oppose the ORV management recommendations has suggested or attempted to eliminate ORV use at CAHA."
Really prove it.”

Other than ORVers conspiracy theories none of the groups involved in the CAHA ORV fiasco have ever either in print or a public statement suggested the elimination of ORV use in CAHA if you have information otherwise I’d love to see it.

Oh yea, I pay taxes too.

"Whatever degradation the timber industry did by logging back in the 1600’s is long done. I don’t know of anyone who suggests that that logging had anything to do with the current (since the 10930’s) beach erosion."

From what I have understood from watching the hurricanes batter the barrier island the areas with trees do not breech as easily. So therefore trees would prevent some of that. I only mention this because of the constant mentioning of leaving areas pristine like they were before humans. Unless this only means before humans were on the beaches which dates back to the 1600's and some even earlier (The Algonquins are believed to have been on the Outer Banks since around 500 A.D.)

"Unfortunately, the combination of logging and allowing livestock to run freely all over the island destroyed much of the island’s natural vegetation, leaving great bare spots of sand. The sand blew freely in the constant winds and, at Kinnakeet, began to form great migrating sand dunes that could be quite destructive to property and any remaining plants."

Quotes above taken from http://www.hatterasguide.com/history/

"To you and your friends the beach is just a staging area, for me the beach itself is an integral part of the national park experience at CAHA. It appears many of your ilk see CAHA solely as a recreation area. It was clearly intended to be more than that."

I disagree because I utilize this area to get away from the day to day lifestyle I lead and enjoy the availability of the seashore to provide this relaxation on a level that a Virginia or Myrtle beach cannot.

"Primarily a seashore is a recreation area. Therefore in its selection, the boundaries should be placed in such a manner that the maximum variety of recreation is provided. Thus while provision for bathing may be the first consideration of these areas, it must be kept in mind that a far greater number of people will be more interested in using a seashore area for other recreational purposes. It is desirable therefore to provide ample shoreline for all types of beach recreation. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore provides such an area in that there is extensive shoreline for all forms of recreation both for immediate use and for future development."

Next paragraph "Secondarily, the area should include adjacent lands which by reason of historical, geological, forestry, wildlife, or other interests, have sufficient justification to be preserved by the Federal Government."

Next paragraph "Thirdly, it is important to include in the area, lands necessary for proper administration and lands which serve principally as a protection for the recreational and other developments which are the primary purpose of the area. "

Above taken from http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/unrau-williss/adhi4l.htm

"ther than ORVers conspiracy theories none of the groups involved in the CAHA ORV fiasco have ever either in print or a public statement suggested the elimination of ORV use in CAHA if you have information otherwise I’d love to see it."

1000 meters in all directions on a barrier island eliminates anyone from attending (size taken from the DEIS).... More than any other location that plovers live.

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 beach goers 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.

This National Seashore was always intended to be a Recreational Area. That is why Congress passed the above legislation. By not including Recreational Area in all legal documents the NPS is breaking the law. In the above article by NPS why do they not mention this is a RECREATIONAL AREA? It is NOT A REFUGE which is what they are treating it like. GIVE US OUR BEACH BACK.

It has always interested me in this controversy that the ORV advocates point to the environmentalists as the unreasonable side who started this mess. Who filed the first lawsuit in this controversy? It was the ORV groups who filed the lawsuit challenging the designation of critical habitat for the plover on the Seashore. They threw the first punch and the environmental organizations responded with their lawsuit and simply ko"ed the ORV groups. All this talk of lost opportunity for cooperation is amusing in that context. If you start a fight you can't blame your opponent for winning.

Another undereducated ANON.... Look into your Cape Hatteras history a little more and please keep things in context better.

Your first mistake is that this is not an ORV issue, but an access issue. If you doubt me please go ahead and attempt to walk on the beaches in Cape Hatteras where orv's are not allowed. Then you will no longer be an undereducated ANON, but a ticketed pedestrian or even jailed.

This is your free lesson.

Add to logging and livestock, the USFWS. They created impondments, wetlands, and burn vegetation annually. If it weren't for their efforts I bet Pea Island would look more like the heavily vegetated area between Avon and Rhodanthe/Salvo/Waves. Note, there is never overwash in this area.

From Kurt

"July's vacation rentals along Cape Hatteras were at a record high; the motels, hotels, B&Bs, and campgrounds took in $101.7 million in July, a 16 percent increase over July 2009 revenues."

With all due respect, looking at one year let alone one month makes no sense. So let's look at the big picture. 2003 marked the year that Critical Habitat was designated. 2003 marked the year that NPS closed the inlet year round--they even reposted the closure after Isabel and tried to keep the dredge crews out. 2004 and 2005 marked the years (under Belli) when bird closures were first expanded to the water on a regular basis resulting in effective closures that limited ORV access to 12.6 miles--remember the map from Frank and Fran's. Oh and 2005 was the first ever closure of the point--remember the protest and the armed guards. Ok, with that in mind let's look at the trend in visitation.

From 1997 to 2003 visitation averaged 2.7 million with a peak at 2.9 million in 2002. 2003 was not down but rather at 2.66 million was right in line with the 7 year average of 2.7 million.

In 2004, after the park started treating recreational users like leppers and closing the beaches, visitation fell to 2.2 million. The past 7 years has averaged 2.2 million--a 17.5% decline from the previous 7 years. Now while one can attribute the new, lower visitation level for any single year to this or that, the fact that visitation has stayed at this new lower level for 7 years indicates that there is some underlying reason common to all years. Given our fantastic weather pattern for the last 6 years, the only other common factor is beach access and park treatment of recreational users.

As for the impact on real estate values and businesses, consider the fact that any such impact will not show itself immediately as both real estate and business investments are long term in nature. Think about it, it took time to gear up to servicing the 2.7 million visitation level. Similarly contraction does not happen overnight. That said, after 7 years the new 17.5% lower visitation is taking its toll and since we have not been in a recession for the entire period of 2004 until now, one must conclude that the number of foreclosures, business closures, and the overall decline in property values reflects the reduced level of demand for rentals and services.

Now with a new even more restrictive resource protection, permits, capacity limits, and new parking areas and trails that will likely not be funded, what do you think will happen to visitation and the demand for supplies and services? I guess we will have to suffer through another 7 years to prove the point--if anyone remains after the latest assault.

I have also heard that a large amount of visitation lately is due to the economy with people attempting to recreate in Cape Hatteras versus flying somewhere. This of coarse is only temporary as the economy should improve and the beaches will only close more and more areas for breeding.

Hey who wants to go to a National park with no access to the main events and pay extra for a permit you cannot possibly use?

Just because an areas managed by the NPS has "recreation" in its title does not allow for the degradation of the particular site. All NPS units are still required to adhere to the 1916 Organic act, not arguing here, just stating facts.

From the 1916 Organic act that created the NPS (which, just as a reminder, CAHA is a part of):

"The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

The whole act:
http://www.nps.gov/legacy/organic-act.htm

Visitation statistics are interesting creatures, but they can be incredibly soft and lead to more questions than answers.

For instance, what was so intriguing about Cape Hatteras in 2002 to spur an increase of more than 330,000 visitors to 2.9 million from the year before? And was the decline in 2003 to 2.6 million due entirely to the critical habitat designations, or was there a mix of bad weather over traditionally peak weekends, ferry problems, other vacation options, economic slumps, or problems with how Cape Hatteras guesstimates visitors?

Why in the past five years has the seashore's annual visitation fluctuated by more than 100,000 on average -- down 135,623 from 2005 (2.26 million) to 2006 (2.12 million), up 112,373 from 2006 to 2007 (2.23 million), back down 90,986 from 2007 to 2008 (2.14 million), and back up 136,151 from 2008 to 2009 (2.28 million)?

According to park notes, March 2009 visitation was down compared to March 2008 as Easter in 2008 fell in March, rather than April, leading to a boost for that month that wasn't matched in 2009.

Those notes also point out that April 2008 counts were erroneous, throwing off the comparison with 2009, and that there were campground flooding problems that delayed the opening of the Cape Point Campground in May 2008. Indeed, the notes reflect a number of visitation counting problems in 2008 that possibly skew the increase reflected by the 2009 numbers.

It's impossible to say what happened in 2007 to affect the counts, as the park notes offer only one entry -- "Park was closed January 2nd due to President Gerald Ford's Funeral."

2006 counts were impacted by a number of factors, from campground and lighthouse closures due to storms to the Whalebone Junction counter being out of service all of June.

Why did neighboring Cape Lookout National Seashore, which is much more difficult to access than Cape Hatteras, shoot up nearly 100,000 from 2002 to 2003, the same year Cape Hatteras took a fall?

Why did Cape Lookout visitation fall nearly 400,000 from 2007 to 2008, a year-to-year decline approaching 50 percent? Park officials cite bad weather, counter problems, and mosquitoes. And then rebound 115,055 in 2009 in spite of bad March weather that closed the ferries for most of February and March?

All that said, there's no doubting that Cape Hatteras visitation has slumped from the 2.9 million counted in 2002. But was that year an anomaly? It would appear so in light of the 300,000+ climb from 2001 and the 263,000+ drop to 2003.

This is not to disparage Ginny's comment. She raises some good points. There no doubt are many causes and effects that drive visitation, and closures are one of those.

Part of the discussion going forward should also touch on carrying capacity of Cape Hatteras, as well as that of other parks. How many visitors are enough, too much, or too few? Look at the situation at Yosemite, where officials have been ordered to look at the carrying capacity for Yosemite Valley in connection with the Merced River Plan.

As for what the new ORV/pedestrian regulations, if instituted, will result in at Cape Hatteras, that's tough to say. Even Park Service forecasters are having a tough time. They predicted 1.97 million Cape Hatteras visitors for 2008, and the count registered 2.14 million; they predicted 2.15 million for 2009, and the count was 2.28 million.

Later this week we'll report on a survey of how businesses predict the new management plan will impact them. It's not encouraging.

"Just because an areas managed by the NPS has "recreation" in its title does not allow for the degradation of the particular site. All NPS units are still required to adhere to the 1916 Organic act, not arguing here, just stating facts."

Your right and in this case, there is no factual or scientific evidence presented that there has been any "degradation" of any site on Hatteras Island that can be attributed to historic traditional "recreational" use.

Well, that is certainly arguable...but beside the point. So impacts to wildlife, regardless of activity is not an impact?

How do you define "historical" and "traditional"?

Show us the degradation with proof it was and is caused by ORV's... And if you can please explain why pedestrians are being punished the same way?

And by the way no one has stepped to the plate to say who they were talking about 50+ years ago when they said "Future Generations"?

I am a future generation by every definition of the word. Now give me back the park that I once loved and now cannot set foot on my favorite parts.

Kurt can we really rely on any of those numbers as the NPS has stated too many times that their counts are flawed or skewed?

I look forward to your next article.

"Later this week we'll report on a survey of how businesses predict the new management plan will impact them. It's not encouraging."

Well, that report ought to be a big "duh"...

The mere implementation of the proposed plan is going negatively affect visitation. Then after all the "requirements" are in place, you really think closing the popular areas with permits, VFA's and overly large "protection area"'s are going to be appealing to the traditional "recreational" user of the park??? Please tell me how these changes could in any way could even remotely attract more tourism, increase visitation, or economic prosperity to businesses located within the park. The NPS needs to remember that there are villages containing real live human beings trying to make a living within the boundaries of the park and they supposed to support them. The local businesses feel so jaded by the NPS some are even denying NPS employee's service. And this denial of service has been going for a couple years now. Its pretty easy to see that these changes are going to negatively affect businesses.

Matt, you are a future generation, but there was not 2 million people visiting the areas 50 years ago. Also, I made a point of saying impacts from any activity because in terms of wildlife, pedestrians can have, in some case, more impacts on wildlife than any form of motorized recreation (flushing birds off nests, walking on/over dunes, etc).

Matt,

Sadly, visitation numbers across the entire park system are often little more than guesstimates. While the NPS needs some numbers to manage their operations (ie. staffing, visitor services, facilities, budgets, etc), there are just too many variables in terms of no entrance stations, not enough staff, parks that don't charge entrance fees and so don't have collection stations where visitors can be counted, malfunctioning counters, etc., to come up with hard, reliable numbers on an annual basis.

As a result, procedures for developing estimates are employed. If you go to this site:

http://www.nature.nps.gov/stats/

...click on the park of your choice, and one of the items you'll be able to pull up is "How We Count." It's really quite interesting the methodology they use for vehicles, boats, and even private planes coming in.

Another item you can pull up is "Visitation Comments By Park Staff," which can provide insights to problems with counts.

"How do you define "historical" and "traditional"?"

Before the consent decree or even before the Interim plan, these two poorly implemented actions changed the way the park's resources were available to the users. The traditional recreational activities my family and friends have enjoyed in the park over the past 20 years is not possible with the current and proposed plans. We being denied our historic recreational uses of the park and I don't see any evidence that these changes are required.

Most negative impacts to the "protected" wildlife are clearly documented as predation and weather related. I've seen nothing that says recreational use was considered a significant negative impact to any wildlife.

I'll change that statement and it still works.

Your right and in this case, there is no factual or scientific evidence presented that there has been any "degradation" of any site on Hatteras Island that can be attributed to "recreational" use.

"So impacts to wildlife, regardless of activity is not an impact?"

NO ONE that promotes reasonable access is promoting not protecting wildlife. These current and proposed plans, have new restrictions that are unusually large and treat wildlife differently than other agencies. For example, using "Endangered" type buffers and closures around species for what everyone else calls only "Species of Concern", which everyone else thinks they really don't require anything but simple monitoring and not the vast closures we are seeing now and even more restrictive in the proposed plan.

If recreational use causes a bird to not nest here but does over there, that doesn't mean it negatively impacted species. We have and can successfully interact with the wildlife resources of park.

"Matt, you are a future generation, but there was not 2 million people visiting the areas 50 years ago. Also, I made a point of saying impacts from any activity because in terms of wildlife, pedestrians can have, in some case, more impacts on wildlife than any form of motorized recreation (flushing birds off nests, walking on/over dunes, etc)."

So Anon you are saying because this is a popular destination I cannot be a future generation allowed to have access to the park?

" but there was not 2 million people visiting the areas 50 years ago."

Lets do some math...

1960 world population (I use world because this destination is that popular) 3,039,451,023

2010 World population 6,848,932,929

1964 park visitation 1,070,500

2010 approx. double that...estimated (but who are we kidding aren't they all) [in fact visitation has been up over two million for more than twenty years]

Amount of 4x4 public vehicles in 1960 (The first factory (assembly line) built 1/2 ton trucks sold to the public would have to go GMC in 1956, Chevrolet in 1957, and Ford in 1959) assuming this not too many I would guess.

2006 data shows the following for only two catagories of two companies for one year (In the year 2006, the best selling models were the Ford F-Series with 796,039 units sold and the Chevrolet Silverado with 636,069 units sold.)

Maybe the park system was a little short sited on this little thing known as population growth and the new population getting access to vehicles allowing better access. I guess if they had not brought down the cost of spotting scopes then even the birdwatchers would be on our side to look at these plovers. Besides if the NPS did not want us to have access they would not be called a park and placed it on a beach.

>>if the NPS did not want us to have access they would not be called a park and placed it on a beach.<<

Channeling George Carlin, Matt? Great word play!

"Sadly, visitation numbers across the entire park system are often little more than guesstimates."

So why is it so hard for everyone to believe that the "boots on the ground" view of the visitation numbers are down since the changes.

We say visitation is down, but NPS stands by their guesstimates and the SELC skewed the tax statistics to show that visitation is possibly up. But we, residents,businesses, and visitors, can all see that it ain't like it used to be. I firmly believe the national economic down turn actually increased visitation numbers over what they would normally be, due to the lower cost involving a visitation of Hatteras Island versus other longer distance visitation destinations. I personally talked to couple people last year, that this was their first vacation in the OBX and they would normally would vacation in the Gulf region(and we all know why they didn't want to go there last year).

Speaking of "future generations". My wife and I have a picture on the wall at our cottage. It is a favorite of everyone. It is very simple. It was taken at the north point at Oregon Inlet. It is a group picture of four generations of our family. Very young to eighty plus. The day was one that will be remembered lovingly by many. The spot is one of our favorite for fishing and playing in the surf, collecting shells, as well as other activities (including watching the birds). I guess there are those that would tell Grandmother Chisholm and her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that none of them are included in the Future Generations addressed in the Enabling Legislation of which so many make reference. They would be told how they are destroying the seashore because they were brought to this favorite spot in two four wheel drive vehicles and a canopy set up between them to shade Grandma and the youngsters. The Grandchildren are now learning to surfcast and have caught their first fish. A great moment for each. Oh how I wish some of those finding this activity so offensive could experience these moments of joy. Maybe they would have a better understanding of how, many of us, feel about CAHA. So, I ask you, please be careful when referrencing "Future Generations" when talking about the Seashore, We love it and want to preserve it just as much as anyone, maybe more. We just wish some of the Science could be used to seek ways to accomodate rather than simply justify excluding those mentioned above. No one has mentioned the fact that Birds have a remarkable ability to adapt as do all creatures and there are probably things that can be done to the benefit of the birds and turtles without the extreme restrictions proposed. Lets look for better ways to share and assist with limited initial restriction. We would love the opportunity to work together to this end. Can you imagine that, The environmentalist folks and the orv folks working together. Throw in some Science and a little Common Sense. Wow, gets you excited just thinking about it. Might have to be one of those deals though, where you throw out the highest and lowest score and work with what you have left. You know, get rid of the extremes. Everyone knows what They are, thats they common sense part. The science part needs to be based on inginuity and experimentation, not a bunch of numbers. We have all had enough of the numbers game.
There will be those that say, we've been all through this, done this already, tried neg/reg. True, but, if you had it to do over and could do it in a cooperative manner, bringing sides together, friend and neighbors working hand in hand now that they have a greater appreciation for each others point of view, Is it just possible that it could be done better. I know I have a greater appreciation for some points brought out by AS & DOW. That would be hard to deny. I would find it hard to believe if there are not many in those organizations that feel the same way toward ORV group. There was too much deceit in the beginning and thru the Neg/reg process. All due respect to the NPS but, trust in them was lost somewhere along the line and never recovered. Won't point any fingers here, it would serve no purpose. I do think the Lawyers and Court participation will always hinder PEOPLE from ever solving a delimma in any manner that will result in a future relationship benefitial to all. The Seashore being unique, you need to ask, do any of us really want a future of sharing the Seashore, with this cloud that is building, forever hanging over it. A sobering thought.
I know I have rambled a little. But if any of what I have said, makes any sense and helps bring people together at all, I'll be pleased. We all have things we would rather write about. I look forward to the day I am not so monopolized with this situation and I'm sure you are too.

Ron (obxguys)

Wow Kurt I guess we are both old and like the classics. I was going to channel Seinfeld but thought better of it...

IF I WERE A PLOVER
I happen to be a human being. Male, average type, bout 66 years old, Family man.
I have a home with an average yard. I have Kids, Grandkids and a dog named Bobby.
We share the yard with Birds, Turtles, Rabbits, Squrrils, Muskrats(Nutria), some fish in the creek and an occassional snake, mouse and frogs. Many of these prey on each other as you can well imagine.
I sit on the deck and talk to the birds when they land on the railing three feet away, be it a dove or chick-a-dee. They move out of the way when I cut the grass or do some other activity that they don't want to be involved in and promptly return. There have been some years when we don't see one or the other but, they seem to come back sooner or later. Never figured out why. Nature, I guess. I think they like us. Kinda feel safer when we're around. We do have some stray cats and crows that come by once in a while, even though we try to discourage their hanging around.
Anyway, I was thinking. If I was a Plover, I think it would be kind of interesting to have some of those humans around. They are actually seem kinda likable. They do some interesting things, though they don't all have a pretty song. Then again, neither do some of us birds. They sometimes drive those big machines down the beach. But that might be helping keep some of those guys away that would like to eat us or our eggs. They kinda stay to themselves and as long as they keep Fido close to um they'll be OK. We just have to keep an eye on our Younguns a little bit, But need to do that anyway. They might even be an asset to the youngun's training. Lord knows what they are going to be faced with when they get on their own. I don't think it's asking too much if they want to share our beach with us. Come on and have a good time. Just appreciate us and give us a little respect and we will get along fine. Oh, and I hope they will let you keep getting to your favorite fishing hole, we all know how important that is. See ya round, guys. And one other thing, We'll talk to the Turtles for ya, They pretty much feel same as us.
I know this is probably silly but I think like this at times ever since I read 'Jonathon Livingston Seagull' many moons ago. Helps communicate with grandkids. Love to fly.Would have been a happy bird I think. What more can I say.

Ron (obxguys)

Ron, it is known that the recreational activities have actually helped the Plovers and other birds. But the NPS/AS/DOW don't want you to know that. Some biologists believe that the recreational activities, including ORVs traveling by, help reduce predation. But they'll never admit that...

Anon 3:13

Thanks for the backup. A little common sense still goes a long way in my book. It's kinda funny in a way, some will make a statement and have to spend forever trying to convince you that it is so. Truth is generally self evident, not in need of convincing. I think I heard something like that somewhere. You know it when you hear it, even if you don't like it.

Ron


Matt makes the point that the NPS was short sighted, and had not anticipated the impact of population growth on the Seashore (among other areas.

Sometimes government agencies do have internal reports and evaluations of issues and trends, but the political leaders of the agency never permit the agency to act on the obvious conclusions.

For example, in the early 1970's, the NPS had in Washington a group called the Division of Plans and Objectives. This group analyzed emerging trends so park leaders would not be caught off guard, and the agency could act before becoming overwhelmed.

Population growth, both global and park specific, were among the things raised. Concerns were raised on the impact on the experience of visitors to parks. I remember the group raising the option in the early 1970's that development be removed from, for example Yosemite, because with most other rural and wild places outside of parks being impacted, the value of low development and retaining a sense of remoteness and non-technological experience would be much more valued as dune buggies and motorcycles moved into more and more previously remote areas outside of parks. Once, development in parks, it was said, was needed because beyond their borders visitors could not get basic visitor services. All this would change, it was suggested.

The group also did papers on the expected growing impact of crime on parks; the impact of federal highway officials trying to force the NPS to convert park lanes and parkways to have the same "safety" features as interstate highways including soft and hard shoulders and median barriers; the impact of more and more people who lacked basic outdoor skills or outdoor perceptions and who should be expected to bring to parks more urbanized and even alienated assumptions; a related assumption that some will advocate that park user days be restricted in favor of a media-driven "experience" of parks; the increasing impact on parks of air and water polution and issues of clean water quantity and quality; the impact of global warming, loss ob biodiversity and non-renewable resource exhaustion (one member of the Division actually predicted the Arab Oil Embargo, arguing that there would be a nationalist reaction to European oil executives and countries making all the money from Arab oil, and the Arabs could be expected to retailiate, with a big impact on the cost of travel to parks, and a future pressure on resource extraction from parks). They called, as did others, the impact of the global interrelated issues the "world macroproblem." They got a state of the parks report published (as I remember by a former environmental group called the Conservation Foundation) and included in the contract that the NPS management would not be permitted to edit the findings prior to pbulication. These are just some of the issues I can bring to mind that they raised.

Needless to say, this group was abolished in less than two years, before the end of the Nixon administration. However, park leadership until the 1980s did routinely reflect on similar issues. But in the 1980's even though warned about issues like global warming and parks overimpacted by development, it became the mantra of Department of Interior officials, and politically-appointed NPS officials, that there was a 'conflict' between the "use" vs. the "preserve" mandates of the NPS organic act, with the understanding that the NPS should not unduly restrict park uses to preserve what made parks unique.

Sorry about the history lesson, but park officials were long-ago alerted to likely impacts of visitors and new access technology on sensitive habitats and previously remote areas.

d-2
Don't ever apologize for a history lesson. Everyone should be interested in what drives the wagon. The more we learn, the better we are able to understand. And the better we understand, the better we can contend with results. Some of your information was difficult for me to follow but, the recurring theme left the impression that there were issues that should have been addressed and weren't. Studies performed, policies inacted but little or no follow through. Am I correct ? This,if the case, actually may have caused problems in itself. Case in point, orv management plan for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. Where we now have a big delimma and no "practical" solution (proposed solutions being arguable). So here we paid all these politicians, funded studies, spent on reporting and recording and what did we get ? History is wonderful. But, sometimes, you learn more than you want. You're not really sure if it's the actions of Government or the lack thereof thats going to get ya. Thanks for your input.

Ron

I would not worry about things at the seashore changing all that much, as the NPS has zero money to actually enforce any of their proposals.

Not to mention all of the studies it will take to implement any of the areas they call access improvements = decades down the road. See Bridge replacement

Hi Ron

Yes you are right studies were performed (actually, I would call them either White Papers, or in some cases just presentations or briefings to senior NPS officials, like Director Hartzog), but no, policies were not inacted. At least, not then. Political figures did not want to be required to respond to mechanical mandates, and preferred to pretend things like population growth and Global Warming were not happening. The last thing they wanted were official reports telling them they had to act. When James Watt came in in 1981, he exerted tremendous pressure on the Dept of Interior to just deny any thing like Climate Change or ozone layer changes were even happening. In the Reagan Administration, all visitor use restrictions were emphatically opposed; they just decided to accept the impacts as OK. For me the lesson was that managers did have an early take on emerging trends, and could have acted, but what was missing was to develop that into organized management policies and budget priorities.

Hartzog, however, was pushed out right around the same time this think tank was shut down, and the new Director, a Haldemann dependent and previous White House advance man, seemed to be there to eliminate Hartzogian expansiveness. This guy had no relationships or contacts among the advocates of parks or preservation. The only large internal initiative in the NPS from that point on was led by the Department of the Interior, and that was the Alaska Planning Group making the new park and refuge proposals for Alaska, and driven by a mandate in law with a due date.

I don't necessarily agree with the point by Ryan and others about the money; it is always possible to get money if you fight for it and have local support. Or a court order.

But with a hostile local congressional delegation now in the Majority in Congress, it would take clever NPS leadership to make it the best interest of the congressional delegation to make sure the park is well funded. The drag on this could be the unfortunate tendency of washington office leadership to avoid fighting for specific revenues over and above the President's Budget, in the fear the money will just come out of some other crucial priority. But the result is the Congress as a Whole does not hear enough often enough about specific charismatic NPS needs, the kind of things Congress needs to hear to agree to expand the overall budget caps.

But, despite the restraints, again I emphasize that motivated people with a compelling need for new funds for parks can always get them, if they are smart and willing to fight, and have brought either strong local congressional and park support, or, a strong national constituency (which this issue does not seem to have and would need to get).

PS: back to the beginning, eventually important policy clarifications WERE issued. At the end of the 1990's new Management Policies required there be no impairment to park resources, citing the 1916 Act establishing the NPS -- this had the effect of eliminating the so-called conflict between Park Use and Park Conservation. Park science was also strengthened under Presidents Clinton and Bush (George the Second) that emphasized monitoring of resource impacts, exactly what has been going on. Also, the Fish and Wildlife Service became more aggressive in pushing agencies such as the NPS to do its duty, based on what FWS considered the best science.

Actually, d-2, there may be a way for the NPS to take advantage of the changed political landscape in the Congress and elsewhere. There hase been much made, among those who have risen to power at all levels of government in the last election, in the concept of "American Exceptionalism." I have heard some people say that one of the most distinguishing characteristics of American culture is its dedication to preserving and protecting the outstanding natural and cultural areas of our country. Each generation of Americans, speaking through their Congressional representatives, gets to add to the National Park System those areas that they believe deserve protection in perpetuity. Do you remember the words of the Congress in 1972? (I know you do)

“The national park system shall include any area of land and water now or hereafter administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the National Park Service for park, monument, historic, parkway, recreational, or other purposes. That, Congress declares that the national park system, which began with the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, has since grown to include superlative national, historic, and recreation areas in every major region of the United States, its territories and island possessions; that these areas, though distinct in character, are united through the inter-related purposes and resources into one national park system as cumulative expressions of a single national heritage; that, individually and collectively, these areas derive increased national dignity and recognition of their superb environmental quality through their inclusion jointly with each other in one national park system preserved and managed for the benefit and inspiration of all the people of the United States…”

If that isn't exceptional, I don't know what is. Let's make them walk the talk.

Rick

That's pretty inspiring, Rick Smith.

Put me in, coach !

America is a wonderful place, and the National Parks do tell its story.