Traveler's View: The National Park Service Failed Its Mission With Plan For Addition Lands at Big Cypress National Preserve

With its management plan for the Addition lands of Big Cypress National Preserve, the National Park Service has placed more emphasis on off-roading than on protecting the Florida panther, one of the most-endangered mammals in North America. Top photo of swamp buggy ruts in the Bear Island area of Big Cypress by Matthew Schwartz, middle photo NPS, bottom photo of Florida panther by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Faced with a wondrous opportunity to truly preserve a large swath of Florida still bearing wilderness characteristics, one that can play a critical role in the recovery of North America's most endangered mammal, the National Park Service instead looked the other way.

In doing so, the agency seems to have both ignored its mandate from the National Park Service Organic Act to, above all else, conserve "the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein" for future generations, and tossed dirt on Interior Department promises to "ensure and maintain the integrity of scientific and scholarly activities used in Departmental decision making."

At stake was the future of 147,000 acres in the northeastern corner of the preserve, a section of land known as the "Addition" for its connection to the preserve in 1996 as the result of a land swap with the state of Florida. At the time, Congress directed the Park Service to ban off-road vehicles and hunting in the Addition until a management plan could be developed. That plan was released in its final form in November, and officially approved by the Park Service's Southeast regional director earlier this month.

By adopting its preferred alternative, one criticized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, members of Congress, and conservation groups, the Park Service chose to "maximize motorized access, provide the least amount of wilderness, and develop limited new hiking only trails." With this approach, the Park Service apparently was not swayed by moderate, long-term adverse impacts to water flows, to the control of non-native vegetation, or to the Florida panther the plan would deliver.

Cast aside was the "environmentally preferred" alternative, which would "emphasize resource preservation, restoration, and research while providing recreational opportunities with limited facilities and support. This alternative would provide the maximum amount of wilderness, no ORV use, and minimal new facilities for visitor contact along I-75."

Under the selected plan, more than one-third of the Addition could be accessed by motorized vehicle, either ponderous swamp buggies used by hunters and wildlife tours or motor boats. To provide for that access, preserve officials have agreed to allow up to 130 miles of primary ORV trails -- centered in a half-mile wide corridor -- in the area, along with as many as 650 ORV permits annually. What's uncertain, though, is how many miles of secondary trails might be creased through the landscape, how big of a footprint would be occupied by two "primitive" campgrounds, and whether the trails will turn proposed wilderness into "islands."

Critics such as U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Florida, can't understand why the Park Service authorized so many miles of ORV trails in light of the ORV access elsewhere in Big Cypress.

"Most of the 582,000 acres of the preserve are ... open to motorized recreation for up to 2,000 permitted ORV owners who can enjoy motor vehicles as a way of experiencing the Big Cypress National Preserve," the congressman wrote in a letter to Park Service Director Jon Jarvis.

In light of the existing off-road-vehicle opportunities in the preserve, and when just 7 percent of Big Cypress visitors are interested in off-road-vehicle travel, as noted in a 2007 survey conducted for the Park Service by the University of Idaho's Park Studies Unit, can this increased ORV network be justified by the Park Service?

But this is not an issue solely of ORV access versus wilderness preservation. At risk to this management plan is a biologically rich and diverse landscape of plants, animals, fish, and birds that already is surrounded by pressing, and stressing, development. The West Indian manatee, an endangered species, relies on waterways in the Addition, while the red-cockaded woodpecker, also endangered, utilizes its forests. And then there's the Florida panther, a creature that has struggled to survive the urbanization of Florida.

At one point there were so few panthers in the region that the Park Service brought in cougars from Texas to bolster the gene pool. While there currently are thought to be 100-120 Florida panthers in the wild, perhaps a third of those residing in Big Cypress, continued population growth requires suitable habitat. Allowing the Addition to be sliced up with ORV trails does not aid this endeavor.

While Big Cypress Superintendent Pedro Ramos has said the preserve has all the panthers it can possibly contain, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in critiquing the Park Service's preferred plan for the Addition, said it would create "long-term, moderate, adverse and mostly localized impacts on (likely to adversely affect) the Florida panther..."

In other words, while Big Cypress might have all the panthers it can hold, this plan is not in the best interests for those that reside there. Is this how endangered species should be treated?

Already Big Cypress's panthers are showing signs of being crowded. According to the Florida Panther Net, which tracks Florida panthers, in 2010 at least three panthers died in the preserve, all the result of "intraspecific aggression," which arises when males fight over territory. One of those deaths occurred in the Addition tract.

Along with placing more pressure on panther territories, the half-mile-wide ORV routes and hunting pose a risk to populations of white-tailed deer, a key part of the panthers' prey base, something else the EPA voiced concern over. Indeed, in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 3rd revision of its Florida Panther Recovery Plan, published in November 2008, the agency noted the importance of an abundant deer population to panther recovery, and how hunting pressure in the past had impacted that abundance.

The size, distribution, and abundance of available prey species are critical factors to the persistence of panthers in south Florida and often determine the extent of panther use of an area. A resident adult male puma generally consumes one deer-sized prey every 8 - 11 days; this frequency is 14 - 17 days for a resident female; and 3.3 days for a female with three 13-month-old kittens. Historically, hunting in the Big Cypress physiographic region has been a major traditional activity with many hunt camps throughout the region. With establishment of national and state parks, the numbers of hunt camps were decreased and additional hunting regulations that reduced hunting pressure on deer were implemented. Although deer densities are difficult to determine, the deer population appears to have steadily increased.

Despite data on the importance of wild-tailed deer to Florida panther survival, despite the absence of clear data on the current deer population, and despite information on how hunting can reduce that population, Big Cypress officials want to allow hunting to return to the Addition.

Add to the habitat issues concerns over what ORV use could do to the preserve's water quality. In 2001 the U.S. Geological Survey had this to say about ORV use in Big Cypress:

ORV use in Big Cypress National Preserve (BICY) has impacted wildlife populations and habitats through modifications to water flow patterns (direction and velocity) and water quality, soil displacement and compaction, direct vegetation damage, disturbance to foraging individuals, and, ultimately, overall suitability of habitats for wildlife.

In its comments to the Park Service, the EPA, in generalizing ORV impacts to public lands, said:

EPA is concerned about the impacts of motorized traffic that is growing rapidly on the public lands. Large segments of the hunting and fishing community, for example, believe that off-road vehicles are taking a toll on the land and its wildlife and are detracting from the experience of non-motorized visitors. Evidence is mounting that ORVs pose a serious threat to wildlife, water, soil, plants, and the rest of the natural world.

Of primary concern to EPA is that ORV's use is fragmenting the landscape into a disorganized and destructive web of trails and roads. They point to severe impacts to the soil, the spread of invasive plant seeds, and the disruption to sensitive and endangered wildlife as cause for regulatory intervention. Insufficient enforcement of existing regulations has resulted in thousands of miles of unauthorized routes across the landscape.

The dramatic increase in ORV use on public lands can be responsible for a host of adverse impacts on wildlife, vegetation, soils, water quality, and nonmotorized recreationists. The contamination of air, water, and soil by ORV pollution is among the most significant of these impacts.

Oddly silent has been Park Service Director Jarvis, who, immediately after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate, cited stewardship as one of four areas he wanted to stress during his tenure:

Stewardship of our natural and cultural resources has always been a core value of mine. Our mission is to manage these treasured landscapes unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. This mission is being challenged, particularly by global warming. But at the same time, these challenges are pushing us to think and act at the ecosystem scale, creating unprecedented partnerships with other land managers. We must apply the very best science and scholarly research. To do so, I will create the position of Science Advisor to the Director. As stewards of our national parks, especially considering the challenges of climate change, we must be visible leaders using the sustainability of our facilities and operations, to demonstrate the best in energy and water conservation.

While national preserves are indeed open to different uses than national parks, the Park Service nevertheless is bound to the over-arching mandate of its Organic Act. There is no shortage of off-road lands to enjoy in the country, but there is a shortage of officially designated wilderness and, in the case of the panther, precious few acres of habitat to help this cat survive.

When you consider the fate of the Florida panther, the sprawling development elsewhere in Florida and the impacts that is having on the Everglades, and the overall lack of sub-tropical wilderness, this plan doesn't make sense and should be overturned by Mr. Jarvis.

AttachmentSize
EPA-BICY Addition Lands.pdf1.01 MB
Alcee Hastings - Letter to Director Jarvis-ORV-Feb3 2011.pdf145.08 KB

Comments

Kurt I am somewhat disappointed in your above article. Having spoken with you on the phone quite a while ago and read many of your articles here I got the impression you were an honest and reasonably balanced reporter of issues. I will not take the time here to debate you point by point on this article but will say the photo used here to create the false impression that all ORV trails look like the one shown and that they are everywhere is nothing less than misinformation and sound bite excerpted, out of context and designed to create bias in my opinion. For every photo like this one could take 10,000 showing scenes with no efrfect from the traditional ORV use there. I would expect this from the extreme enviro-zealots at work in Florida to obstruct humans from seeing all areas that their hard earned government wasted income pays for.
Actually to me it seems that someone like one of Sierra Club's leaders down here wrote this, supplied it to you then you toned his usually heated rhetoric down and passed it on to the vulnerable folks that look to this site for accurate balanced information.
Undersdtand this - NPS ran a the tightest NEPA process I've ever seen (and I have seen quite a few). I do not think any law suit will penetrate it or flip this plan but if that remote possibility happens everyone here should also understand that the State can take this place away from the Feds due to a Florida Statute allowing that to happen in certain situations. Our State is about fed up with the Feds and with a new Governor all is possible.
So, keep on pushing and watch where the ripples from the rocks thrown into the Big Cypress Swamp's waters lead.

All I think you should do is add the words "Op-Ed" to the title of the article. In fact you should do more op eds. But I think it would be reasonable to add it to the title to distinguish it from articles that are not opinion.

Mike, I think the headline specifies the op-ed nature, ie. "Traveler's View."

You're right I missed it. Maybe my eyes look for something with the word opinion in it, but definitely that makes it clear, my mistake. Maybe the other poster missed it too.


The writer of this article is in need of a history lesson of the Preserve, or a least write his own article. This article was very repetitive of the same misinformation that has been spread for a good number of years.
The paragraph below for example is completely false even before the designated trail system we had access to less than .o5% of the preserve. Now we have even less.
("Most of the 582,000 acres of the preserve are ... open to motorized recreation for up to 2,000 permitted ORV owners who can enjoy motor vehicles as a way of experiencing the Big Cypress National Preserve," the congresswoman wrote in a letter to Park Service Director Jon Jarvis.)
The NPS intentionally did not implement an ORV plan when they were supposed to in an effort to further erode Congress's original intent of the enabling act that created the whole Big Cypress.
The Addition land is supposed to manged with full access and traditional use.
The preferred alternative does not come close to what was promised.
The tons of taxpayers money wasted on the Panther project even after modern science has proven that there is no true sub-species.
Personal experience with panthers in my yard and hanging around several other properties I helped maintain in the Cypress has shown that ORV use much less humans bother the panthers. Cars in the middle of the day traveling down Loop Road and the cats don't even jump into the woods like deer would do.
then to use the 2001 US Geological Survey as a source for information really proves that the lack of research done to write this article. Their information was never groundtruthed or proven. in fact their information was so poor several square miles US GEO claimed were totally destroyed by ORV use had never had ORVs in the area.
But go ahead continue with the misinformation spread the manure of those who wish genocide of the traditional culture of the glades.

Frank, I was just in Big Cypress in November and damage from the ORV's was shameful. It was shocking to see our national lands being ripped up by boys (and girls) playing with their toys. It was also dangerous as MANY vehicles with ORV trailers were simply parked on the side of the road as the parking lots were full! Kurt's article is spot-on, the truth is hard to face. We are destroying this ecosystem and we will have to explain it to our grandkids, while we show them the pictures of what used to be.

Eric, who's traditional use and and what traditional cultures are you referring to?

Read the history of the Glades, read the record of the 93 congress, study the enabling act itself if you really want to know.
short version Hunting, fishing, frogging airboating and ORVs were to be included, We used to farm out there and we gave it up to stop the expansion of both coasts and we saw what the reality of the jetport and suburbia was bringing in our way of life.
Promises were made by the Department of Interior and so far they have done they can to eliminate the intent of the Preserve.
There is a lot of misconception about our use. what one poster calls toys are actually tools. You would have to build a buggy or an airboat to really understand that these are not toys. We created out of necessity in order to travel to many of our favorite spots to hunt, fish, frog & camp
Before multiculturalism was popular we were multicultural culture made up of blacks, Bahamians, Hispanics, Native Americans and whites.
Incrementally the DOI has taken away properties , regulated our uses to the point our children will never get to see the places our generation has or live the life we used to nor have the intimate relationship we have with the Cypress. The loss of access has increased even more this past decade and the places I had been able to take my children are no longer been accessible.
There is so much more but most folks don't have a clue. As far as folks whining about buggies and trails even at the height of use less than 1/2 of 1 percent of this area was ever impacted by buggies. Walk in 20- 50 feet away from a buggy trail and you will not believe how many miles you can walk without stumbling over another trail. But you better be in shape, It takes during the wet season sometimes 2 or 3 hours to travel from one hammock to another and only cover around a mile. Why we love this place I don't know but I can't live without it.

I should also point out that USFWS and the NPS have done more damage to south floridas eco system than any of our traditional uses
Examples Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow for over 15 years the agencies artificially dried out the rattle snake ridge area of the Big Cypress they declared it critical habitat for the Sparrow, even though this was never at any point in time cape sable habitat. but using our public lands for this single species management practice resulted in hundreds of thousands of acres flooded far longer than what is necessary for the eco sytem destroy thousands of hammocks, killing off nearly all the fur bearing animals north of 41 further endangering other endangered or threatened species.
These hammocks are gone forever, the wildlife and the plants are gone, We have replanted some heads trying to save them but again they were flooded out.

Welcome to the club Eric the NPS is doing the same in Cape Hatteras. Though due to open pocket judges and money hungry environut lawyers the place I once planned on retiring to is being closed for the same single species management. These people will not stop. They finally succeeded on their third attempt in Cape Hatteras. My warning is to always be aware of someone claiming to want to protect some type of animal while killing off thousands to do so. They did the same thing in Cape Hatteras by killing off several species in an attempt to protect a few birds. There is supposed to be a seperation between church and state but the NPS is playing GOD.

WOW
I sure wish I had the time and fortitude to actually read the history on all the Parks, Preserves and Recreation Areas. Is it possible that there is a trend where a lot of people were promised a lot of things and then in actuallity, somewhere along the line, someone decided that there was no need to live up to those promises. It didn't fit their agenda. Kind of reminds one of where this country is going, don't you think.
You know, there was a time when, if a man gave his word on something and he wasn't here to fulfill it, his son, friend, associate or successor would. What happened.

Ron (obxguys)

Christi M. roadside emergency parking is legal in Florida. The emergency causing traditional visitors to park on the side of the highway is one of the many negative unintended consequences of the ORV plan in Big Cypress National Preserve. When rules that are not well thought out but guided by eco-centric fools prevail this is what happens anywhere. Stupidity sometimes is impossible to hide. Possibly a bit of anthropo-centric balance might have prevented the oh so dangerous situation you encountered. The simple solution is for you to refuse to allow yourself to be exposed to such danger by resisting the temptation to visit there. The Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park is very similar terrain that you might consider more safe for yourself to visit. Be sure not to give a thought to the poisonous snakes, panthers, bears alligators and most of all the many WASPS that await you in either of our inviting South Florida Swamps.

Hi Kurt - nice editorial. Keep up the good work. Glad to see my friends from Big Cypress with a somewhat different point of view here as well.

I noticed you had a post on the Traveler a while back on Richard West Sellars. Apparently, the NPS has put his entire book - Preserving Nature in the National Parks - online at the following website. An excellent read for those deeply interested in these very special places and the story of conservation of natural resources vs. "other factors" in National Park Service management.

http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/sellars/index.htm

Sellars' book is not exactly the view of the National Park Service portrayed in the recent Ken Burns documentary. In reality, the NPS has always had a difficult time choosing natural resource protection over recreation - in spite of the lofty words of the NPS Organic Act. The battle of the Big Cypress National Preserve Addition Lands is just one more page in that somewhat tortured history (which included the eradication at one point of all cougars, wolves, and coyotes from virtually all National Parks out west in order to have more elk and deer for the tourists to look at). It will be interesting to see if Dr. Sellars covers the story of Big Cypress in the sequel to the book you indicated he is writing.

Also - as the photographer who took the above photo of the ruts (it appeared in the Naples News and has gotten quite a bit of exposure over the last 3 years) - here's the story behind it. It was taken a few days before NPS had re-opened a part of the Bear Island section of the preserve to off-road vehicles. The eastern section of the Bear Island is largely wet prairie and the trail photographed was closed by Superintendent John Donahue right after the signing of the Off-Road Management Plan for the preserve. This was done in order to protect the fragile soils and vegetation as well as provide the endangered Florida panther with some undisturbed habitat. The closure was stipulated by the ORV Management Plan.

Although NPS declared the above trail "sustainable" (i.e. could handle the impact of ORVs), NPS was forced to close it after less than one season of use after much of it had been converted into a 100 foot wide mudpie. It remains closed to this day and is the subject of ongoing litigation. NPS has also applied for a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District to dredge out the muck on the trail, line the resulting pit with geotextile, and fill it with gravel.

Matt Schwartz
South Florida Wildlands Association

Ron,

"Is it possible that there is a trend where a lot of people were promised a lot of things and then in actuallity, somewhere along the line, someone decided that there was no need to live up to those promises."

If you would like to live by this credo, then all white Europeans should pack up and leave, as this country has promised the Indians the world for the past 400 years and gone back on their word just about every time. Just a thought.

Ryan

Well said and well taken. I've got no problem with that.

Ron (obxguys)

Hi Kurt,

From what I can tell there is little similarity between ORV use at CHNS and Big Cypress. ORV use is not identified or sanctioned by the CHNS’s enabling legislation on the National Seashore’s approximately 70 miles of relatively narrow ocean beach.
ORV users like to cite from the enabling legislation “other recreational activities of similar nature” as validation for ORV access but neglect to include the implication of, “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”. Additionally ORV use not only impacts native flora and fauna and the day to day physiographic conditions but also visitors who expect and are entitled to experience an undeveloped natural beach with National Park aesthetics. In the past all the remote dramatic beaches in CHNS can become parking lots full of parked ORVs and the beach leading to these areas a rutted churned up mess. ORV groups do not willingly compromise on anything that restricts ORV access and would rather have no one accessing the Seashore if they cannot drive when and where they want. They do nothing to promote alternative forms of access.

I am not familiar with Big Cypress and wonder if the traditional swamp buggies use has not increased to the point where it is impacting other essential values for why the Preserve was created?

Big Cyprus National Preserve and Cape Hatteras National Seashore issues do coincide when it pertains to impacts to nonmotorized recreationists. And I assume National Seashores (Cape Hatteras National Seashore) are held to an even higher standard than National Preserves?

CHNS enabling legislation
“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 . . .”

Southern S !

ANON Name a flora in CHNS affected by the ORV use on Sand and make sure it is unique????

You neglect to understand my comments as simply this " The NPS is going through all the motions to eliminate access that benefits all such as Handicapped, Elderly, kids, families." One cannot simply pack light and head out to the point with his or her family. If you did and an issue happened like maybe someone steps on a seashell and cuts their foot badly it would take hours to get them help. These are the scenarios I play out when someone like you limits my access to my park.

“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 . . .”

"shall be permanently reserved as a primitive wilderness" And it has been...

"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 "

Obviously they considered the ramps they built for access compatible!!!!

"which shall be developed for such uses as needed"

Read this again and realize that they built ramps to do just that for ORV 's!!!!!!!!

Great editiorial, Kurt. I hope you have the time for more.

I was around when the Big Cypress and Big Thicket national preserves were set up. Resource preservation was never subordinated to motorized access. It is just the other way around, the management concept was similar to a national wildlife refuge, that all uses were to be subordinated to the dominant purpose of protecting the distinctive resources of the preserve.

Additional laws, including the General Authorities act and its later congressional amendments, make it clear that all parks follow the general laws of the National Park System, except where specifically exempted in the authorizing legislation for the area.

No one ever imagined that anyone would ever think the level of motorized access, and the kind of vehicles available today, would ever be considered "traditional" levels under the law. The point of the law was not to propagate expanded motorize access for the few. It was to PRESERVE the resource.

Glad to see this site take the side of the Great Spirit over the side of the Great Father.


“ANON Name a flora in CHNS affected by the ORV use on Sand and make sure it is unique????”

I am long time frequent and knowledgeable visitor to CHNS. The ORV routes extend from the tide line to near the toe of the dunes. There are also interdunal roads where ORV’s regularly destroys vegetation to avoiding standing water in the routes. Sea Rocket, Sea Beach Aramnth, Beach Elder, Spartina Pattens, Sea Oats and American Beach Grass are all “unique” flora found in CHNS. Nothing thrives in an ORV route on heavily used ocean beaches.

“One cannot simply pack light and head out to the point with his or her family. If you did and an issue happened like maybe someone steps on a seashell and cuts their foot badly it would take hours to get them help.”

I disagree. It is between a 1 and 1 1/2 miles from Ramp 43 or 44 parking lots to the “Point”. It is a flat sandy beach. Take appropriate cautions and it should not be that much of a problem. Of course ORV access groups have never suggested alternative means (like a shuttle service) to these areas,

ORV routes cannot be designated just any place in a Seashore/recreation area. I resent that ORV advocates don’t want me to recreate in this National Seashore as it was clearly intended. Your attitude reflects the ORV access lobby wanting all the truly remote scenic wilderness areas that are left in this Park to be ORV accessible all of the time. Would you consider designating some of the remote areas vehicle free for part of the year or designating some of these areas vehicle free and other ORV accessible?

Instead of compromising or discussing these issues ORV advocates come up with inane arguments and speculation of environmental advocates intent while ignoring history or legislation that doesn’t fall into their worldview. Making the ocean beach into a parking lot (and that is exactly what happens) is not a “primitive wilderness”.

“The development and operation of the Seashore areas shall follow the normal national park standards with the understanding that recreational pursuits shall be emphasized to provide activities in as broad a field as is consistent with the preservation of the area. It shall be the policy of the service to permit fishing, boating and other types of recreation under proper regulations and in designated areas where such activities may not conflict with other factors of greater importance.
(“Prospectus Of Cape Hatteras National Seashore” March 1938)

This means the Park was intended for recreation to occur in designated areas not everywhere. If the founders of CHNS had intended to establish ORV as the primary means of access in this Park they would have stated so.

“Read this again and realize that they built ramps to do just that for ORV 's!!!!!!!!”

The Park did not build ramps to accommodate recreational ORV access!

“The Park Service established beach access ramps to enable commercial fishermen to continue to use vehicles to fish from shore while mitigating damage to the barrier dunes by controlling the points of entry, but these ramps also allowed general visitors motorized access to the beach”
(P180, Creation and Establishment of Cape Hatteras National Seashore)

The Park had to accommodate commercial fishing because this was included as an activity that was to be allowed in this National Seashore and was specifically specified in the amended Enabling legislation. The amount and type of ORV use today is not traditional or historical and deviates from the specific intent of this Park. Preserving the resource (historical and biological) and recreation are the dual intent of the Park, ORV access is not.

Yes resource closures do impact my recreational activities in the park but ORV use has been a much bigger impact for me than resource closures.

“The Park Service established beach access ramps to enable commercial fishermen to continue to use vehicles to fish from shore while mitigating damage to the barrier dunes by controlling the points of entry, but these ramps also allowed general visitors motorized access to the beach”
(P180, Creation and Establishment of Cape Hatteras National Seashore)

BINGO reread and please note that it does not say these ramps will limit the numbers or types of accessing vehicles allowed.

"This means the Park was intended for recreation to occur in designated areas not everywhere. If the founders of CHNS had intended to establish ORV as the primary means of access in this Park they would have stated so."

Really I guess it was a minor oversite in the 1950's that so many vehicles would make this area accessible. They did recognize eventually that the ORV would be used as they now demand regulating them. They also do not mention jet skis, Mass beach transit, GPS, Laptop computers, ETC... as they did not exist then. does this mean they are not allowed?

"Making the ocean beach into a parking lot (and that is exactly what happens) is not a “primitive wilderness”."

But when they leave it is back to the same (except for the removal of trash washed ashore) as when they showed up "a primitive wilderness" or as much as it can be without returning it back to before humans entered the island.

"I disagree. It is between a 1 and 1 1/2 miles from Ramp 43 or 44 parking lots to the “Point”. It is a flat sandy beach.

I knew you would, but of coarse you probably do not have children 3 and 6 years old or even an elderly person in your family beach plans either. Attempt that walk with them!!!
Are they not able to enjoy the same functions as the few who are able to walk out. To prevent the rest who have not visited this wonderful area of Cape Hatteras from being swayed I will state that the sand is 100 plus degrees as documented several times on this site and is far from hard packed flat beach. It is like walking in snow for 1 to 2 hours each way in 90+ degree heat. Seems like you are definitely looking out for all persons suggesting this.

"Take appropriate cautions and it should not be that much of a problem."

Accidents happen.
One ACCIDENT and a person dies and there goes the NPS funding for the next year!

As far as mass transit to the beaches. This idea has no chance at ever being realized as the NPS could not afford the insurance or the upkeep that putting this type of system into play. This is not YellowStone so we cannot simply build boardwalks and mass transit without the threat of personal injury.

I am long time frequent and knowledgeable visitor to CHNS. The ORV routes extend from the tide line to near the toe of the dunes. There are also interdunal roads where ORV’s regularly destroys vegetation to avoiding standing water in the routes. Sea Rocket, Sea Beach Aramnth, Beach Elder, Spartina Pattens, Sea Oats and American Beach Grass are all “unique” flora found in CHNS. Nothing thrives in an ORV route on heavily used ocean beaches.

I know this is true as far as you know, but I have yet to see the destruction you speak of when I venture down these paths intended for ORV's. Is it possible that this Flora adapts?
Also wanted to point out that the Sea Beach amarath you pointed out is not currently on the seashore so ORV's cannot damage it.

"Yes resource closures do impact my recreational activities in the park but ORV use has been a much bigger impact for me than resource closures."

If this is the case then select an area without either they are available to you if you look hard enough. Not the same can be said for those who want to use the access provided by the NPS for us to CHOOSE to do this.

Anonymous,

I, too, was curious when I heard of NAS's decision to sale the acreage on Currituck Sound. So I called Audubon and asked them to explain the seeming contradiction between that sale and their efforts on Cape Hatteras National Seashore to protect nesting sea turtles and shorebirds.

This is what they told me:

Over the past 30 years, the National Audubon Society has, through the generosity of Mr. Earl Slick and his family, received ownership of parcels of land on the Northern Outer Banks that now comprise more than 2,600 acres of marshes and uplands along Currituck Sound. When Currituck County began to experience extensive beachfront development, Audubon chose to concentrate its conservation efforts on the sound side of Highway 12 and gave up most of its beachfront holdings for additional land on the sound side. Audubon now owns and manages the 2,600-acre Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Audubon Sanctuary and Center at Pine Island as the first Audubon center in North Carolina. You can read more about it at http://nc.audubon.org/centers-chapters/developing-vision-pine-island

Among the parcels was a 13-acre oceanfront tract that became sandwiched between developed areas, reducing its capacity to sustain significant natural populations of birds or other wildlife. Two years ago Audubon entered into a contract for the sale of the property that will allow us to invest in the operation of the 2,600-acre Pine Island center and sanctuary, including species and habitat conservation, scientific research, and nature education.

Does that remove the impression of hypocrisy? No doubt, not every one would necessary agree. But it's one aspect of the story that the article you link to doesn't mention, one that I think readers should take into consideration before they reach their own conclusion.

And even then, perhaps the only sound conclusion can be reached either by visiting the 13 acres and seeing for one's self the lay of the land or, at a minimum, seeing photos of the sight -- an aerial would be ideal -- to see how hemmed in that tract is or is not.

"Among the parcels was a 13-acre oceanfront tract that became sandwiched between developed areas, reducing its capacity to sustain significant natural populations of birds or other wildlife."

What is the QTY to equal significant? I thought all possibilities to allow these birds to succeed was demanded by the organic act and endangered species act? Was there an environmental study needed? I do not see that they had to submit to years of these studies to ensure that they themselves are held to the same statutes they proclaim are required elsewhere?

"Two years ago Audubon entered into a contract for the sale of the property that will allow us to invest in the operation of the 2,600-acre Pine Island center and sanctuary, including species and habitat conservation, scientific research, and nature education."

They get the land given to them to sustain as an undeveloped tract of land for the environment and they sell it off for a profit? Please note they do not need to pay taxes on this, this area will be developed to a standard that they were originally inlisted all of this property to protect it from. They instead sell it.

The old bait and switch. this is not the only place it is happening. There are areas in the Chesepeake and the gulf coast sale of rights to of all things drill for oil.