Groups Criticize Senate Bill That Would Require Park Service To Reassess ORVs At Cape Hatteras National Seashore

A Senate committee on Tuesday approved legislation that would require the National Park Service to reassess how to manage off-road vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a measure that conservation groups said was unnecessary and would lead to a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The measure, S.B. 486, was sponsored by U.S. Sens. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, and Richard Burr, a Republican, both of North Carolina. As initially introduced, the bill would have eliminated current Park Service safeguards for beach-nesting wildlife and pedestrian beachgoers to favor instead trucks on park beaches, according to the National Parks Conservation Association.

In committee action Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden tweaked the measure to require the Park Service to study how wildlife protection measures might be modified to provide more vehicle access while still protecting wildlife and pedestrians.

“The existing wildlife protection measures are already based on the best available scientific information," said Julie Youngman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “We will work to make sure the plan remains scientifically sound. By requiring the National Park Service to redo what it’s already done, the bill wastes taxpayer time and resources.”

According to nesting numbers from the National Park Service, 222 sea turtle nests were recorded in 2012, by far the most nests ever documented at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. At the same time, visitor gross occupancy on Hatteras Island during the bird and turtle nesting season months of April, June, July, and September 2012 was the highest on record, according to the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.

In February 2011, when the senators sponsored the legislation, Sen. Hagan said she did so to help the economy.

"Beach access is critical to the Dare County economy, and that is why I am working with Representative (Walter) Jones and Senator Burr to make sure federal regulations are not overly restrictive for the local community," Sen. Hagan said at the time. "The Hatteras community has experienced three summers with many beaches closed, and some local businesses may not survive another. I will continue working with the administration, my colleagues in Congress and all relevant stakeholders to balance appropriate beach access with important environmental protections."

But the conservation groups maintain things are fine without changes.

“The existing National Park Service plan is a win-win for the seashore,” said Jason Rylander, senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. “The plan restored wildlife to the seashore while increasing visitation and tourism. The vast majority of seashore visitors do not come to drive on the beaches. This bill seeks to fix something that isn’t broken."

Based on a public input and peer-reviewed science, the current National Park Service plan is the result of a public process agreed to by all parties—including Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance and local counties—concerned about beach driving on the national seashore.

“The National Park Service’s current regulation offers a balanced use of the seashore,” said Walker Golder of Audubon North Carolina. “The current safeguards--put in place after much stakeholder input, public discussion, and more than 21,000 public comments—allow for responsible off-road vehicle use, provide areas for people who want to safely enjoy the beach without the danger of trucks, and provide basic protection for birds, sea turtles and other wildlife. The bill sets a horrible precedent for the National Park Service.”

Eleven threatened piping plover chicks survived to fledge (able to fly) from nests laid on the seashore’s beaches during 2012. Before off-road vehicle management practices were implemented in April 2008, piping plover numbers within Cape Hatteras National Seashore declined to an all-time low of no chicks surviving to fledge in 2002 and 2004, the groups noted.

The National Park Service rule designates 61 percent of the seashore’s miles of beaches as year-round or seasonal ORV routes with only 39 percent designated as year-round vehicle-free areas for pedestrians, families, and wildlife. Some areas may be temporarily closed during nesting season to provide the essential protection necessary for birds and sea turtles to nest and raise their young.

Since President Nixon’s 1972 executive order, Cape Hatteras National Seashore has been required by federal law to establish guidelines that manage off-road vehicles to minimize harm to the wildlife and other natural resources of the seashore. The order called for protocols in accordance with the best available science to minimize conflicts with other, non-vehicle-based uses of the seashore and to preserve the seashore for present and future generations. Forty-one years later, NPS’ rule is finally addressing these requirements, but bills like this one hinder the National Park Service’s work at Cape Hatteras.

Comments

Kurt .........

Sooner or later the American public will realize that the NPS is systematically removing all of us from public lands they manage. This effort at changing NPS plans at Cape Hatteras by the rank and file people of America will be much like the 'shot heard around the world'.

The big winners in this effort are the lawyers of the Southern Environmental Law Center, Defenders of Wildlife and National Audubon.......and the ones we (taxpayer) pay at NPS and DOI.

Please remember that turtles reproduce in 3 year cycles.......The record numbers of turtle nests cited above were hatched 3 years ago before the changes were made at Cape Hatteras.

Good job being mouthpiece for the lawyers representing people who in all likeliness have never ben to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. Your article is a copy of their diatribe published yesterday in reply to the BI-PARTISAN effort by US Senators and the people that live and love OBX.

Hatrasfevr, did those groups also cite Sen. Hagan's motivations for introducing the bill?

Also, visitation to Cape Hatteras National Seashore last year was 2.30 million, an increase of nearly 400,000 from 2011, when visitation was 1.96 million. If the Park Service is trying to remove folks from the national seashore, they don't seem to be doing a very good job...

I don't know enough about the CHNS issues to come down one way or the other regarding the management policy. However, I believe this legislation is yet another example of undue interference in NPS operations. Hire the folks to run the parks and let them run the parks. If you don't like what they are doing them, fire them or change their mission but Congress shouldn't be trying to micro-manage their operations.

THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO END!

I just agreed with a post by ec!

Have a great day, friend. I hope the hiking weather is as good in your territory this morning as it in mine.

Kurt, 2011 visitation numbers were affected by virtually no access to the island. Remember this little issue:

http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2011/09/several-options-under-discussion-restore-highway-access-down-cape-hatteras-national-seashore8710

Kurt, do you really want to cite turtle nesting numbers in this article? You should take off the blinders and realize turtles nest in cycles. The turtle nesting numbers hit records all over the south eastern coastline and the new NPS policies have nothing to do with its increase.

There are many reasons why 2002-2004 PIPL numbers were low, here are couple:

1. The NPS didn't have the resources to find them and have since increased the number of biologists.

2. Predation was high and have since killed thousands of predators.

3. Particarlly bad spring storms and storm overwash wiped out established nests.

This new legislation still provides resource protection. The DOI/NPS had to accept this reassement because they knew the new plan was jeopardy due to failing to properly follow NEPA process, among other mistakes they made.

Beachdumb, if you've been a long-time reader, you might recall that back in 2010 I wrote about record turtle nesting at Cape Hatteras and the whims of population swings. The experts I talked with back then said yearly swings aren't unusual, so yes, I'm aware of cycles.

http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2010/09/record-summer-turtle-nesting-cape-hatteras-national-seashore-spawnsdebate6809

Traveler's citing last year's numbers is neither pro nor con the issue at hand, but merely ... citing the numbers. You certainly can argue with the conservation groups and the spin they put on it, but I don't think I provided the spin. And the economic/visitation numbers came from the county.

As for visitation, 2012's attendance was the highest in nine years...

Huh? Of course you provided the spin. Its in this article YOU posted or did someone write this article for you? Its painfully obvious you just copied most of it from the SELC press release.

And you continue to spin, you can see visitation has yet to recover to the levels it was before the Audubon and NPS started this mess.

New policies in place, larger closures, and less beach. The numbers aren't in your favor:

Beachdumb really needs to compare other national parks and tourist destinations over the course of 5 or 10 years with non-bias independent visitor surveys to get a gist of the impact (or lack of) NPS final ORV rule on Park visitation. Just like there are many variables that determine the success or failure of bird and turtle nesting in the park there are many variables that affect local business and commerce. In any case if the only road to Hatteras Island had not been out for 6 weeks because of Hurricane Sandy last fall during the prime fishing season Hatteras 2012 visitation would have been stellar. The entire ORV lobby continues to ignore or dispute any data that they can not spin their way and cherry picks the data that they can to support their cause.

This bill is not about the local economy or visitation to the park. It is about providing as much ORV access as possible to a very organised highly vocal local special interest group.


Kay Hagan the democratic NC senator will never again get my vote. I doubt she get many from the very conservative special interest group that scammed her support for S.486.

Interesting post. I hope the park can hold on to its decision based on their extensive NEPA compliance effort. I do think its important that our Federal and State Agencies follow the Federal and State compliance laws. It not just more paper work, its protects the public's right to have input into the decision process and hopefully, the agencies are gathering the best information for the alternatives they present. It appears that Cape Hatteras National Seashore has done that in this case.

The overriding mandate of the National Park Service was spelled out in 1916. We all know it -- or should.

". . . . 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."

There are many who read that in a very selective manner and simply ignore one of its most important phrases: ". . . 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."

I submit that those who ignore that part of the Enabling Act are guilty of pure greed. Another display of the Great American Entitlement Mentality which says, "Give it to me, NOW because I WANT it!" We can only hope that the Park Service continues to stand strong and firm in the face of greed, and that our courts will have the wisdom to uphold that stand despite the idiocy of a few Congresscritters whose grubby paws are deep in the pockets of well moneyed special interest gangs.

In addition to the Organic Act the enabling legislation for CHNS was pretty clear(at least to me) that recreating in the park was expected as long as specific criteria and management were maintained. One of the ORVers arguments for more ORV area ( half of the Park is a designated ORV route) is that if they find a area closed to ORVs but open to pedestrians with only light visitation that that is reason enough to open that beach to ORV use. It is as if there was something wrong with a section of beach in a desolate state.

(link to NPS MAP)

http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/upload/02-10-12-ORV-Route-Map-FINAL-8-5x11.pdf


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 . . .


(Aug. 17, 1937, ch. 687, Sec. 4, 50 Stat. 670; June 29, 1940, ch. 459, Sec. 1, 54 Stat. 702; Mar. 6, 1946, ch. 50, 60 Stat. 32.)

Pgg

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Thank you Buxton for the informative post. The efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Defenders of Wildlife, North Carolina Audubon, citizens groups from the Cape Hatteras area, well the list was quite lengthly, it appears the efforts made here by the the NPS are quite creditable.

This is the way I see it, their extensive NEPA compliance effort was flawed, went way to far, did not fairly account for economic impact, has turned out to be very visitor unfriendly and they know it. That is why it appears they have agreed to reassess the new plan and not have to start completely over.

I've not seen how pedestrian and/or ORV access impairs anything for future generations. People and vehicles have been accessing the remote beaches for generations with no describable impact.

Its prime time to be on the beach. So Buxton, the hypocrisy is unreal, how many miles of pedestrian access is there currently at the beaches of the village Buxton, NC (surrounded by CHNSRA)?

When initially ordered, the NPS spent money crafting a plan with public input and then they lost it, never made it to the federal register, and just buried their head in the sand. Then years later when they got called on it, the spent a bunch of money crafting another plan, with public comment and a USFWS FONSI. Then a couple years later, they threw all that out, spent A LOT more money, created another "dream" plan, with public comment* and orchestrated and crafted by our favorite environmental special interest groups, lawyers, and a near delirious judge. And you really think they've done a fine job?

(* robo-call to action-campaign "Don't hurt the baby birdies!")

Can you really compare the coin jar grass roots volunteer based orgs efforts to the multimillion dollar orgs like Audubon? Really? Those local orgs only have actual visitors and residents voices on their side...

[= 14px; line-height: 18px]"The efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center" - now that is funny. Are they helping the people who lost their jobs and the struggling businesses from the tyranical NPS? [/]

How much pedestrian or ORV access could change daily depending on resource protection protocols and set seasonal dates where some areas of beach change from ORV access to pedestrian access or pedestrian access to ORV access.

Beachdumb is referring to a 1978 draft interim ORV plan that was sent to congress and never approved (lost?) CAHA's final and only ORV ruled was constructed under strict NEPA guidelines with lots of public comments and applicable law considered. This plan takes into consideration fundamental physical and demographic changes to CHNS that have occured since the Parks inception. It is incredulous that anyone could think that manging this park now by 35 year old pre NEPA plan would work or worked in the past.

There was another new plan finalized in July 2007 and USFWS issued a “no jeopardy” opinion and the Atlanta office of the NPS issued a “finding of no significant impact”. While not everyone was completely happy with, it was accepted by locals and visitors. But under pressure from SELC, they threw that out and developed a completely new excessively restrictive plan. While NPS played the NEPA game, again, they had already predetermined the outcome, summarily ignored public input/comment, and here we are today.

I'll ask again, Buxton, how many of miles of beach access does the village of Buxton have right now?

Under this new plan, the NPS is using a 1000 meter closure for piping plover chicks. Using this ridiculous closure size, accessing Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Cape Point campground are currently a violation of the closure. This has got to change.

Yes, this has got to be changed. 1000 meters is not enough. It really should be 2000 meters. ;-)

Beachdumb for whatever ah ha moment you are trying to achieve go to CAHA's website and seek the answer to your question. The amount of beach open to pedestrians only changes on a day to day basis depending on set seasonal dates and resource closures. Here is a link that might help you:

http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/googleearthmap.htm


Or you could contact CAHA and ask park officials.


The no significant impact referred to the Interim Protected Species Management Plan. As the title says this was a temporary plan that only addressed ORVs and resources until the comprehensive final ORV rule could be established. It was basically devised by a new CAHA superintendent and deviated significantly from what USGS scientists had recommended. It was immediately challenged by a conservation group. When that ruling went before a federal judge it was basically thrown out for being inadequate. So in my book the no sigficant impact doesn't hunt anymore.


The campground and the lighthouse are not closed because of plover chicks. There are some ORV propents that would be delighted if that were the case.

Let me start by saying that I am not going to try and convince any of you that I know more than you do about anything. I do believe some of the content of the article itself, and some of the comments that follow it, are exactly the reason that the issues concerning access to the beaches at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area are now to be addressed by Our U. S. Senate and House of Reprsentatives. Anyone that doesn't understand why this is happening, please read the history, the complete history, including the promises made. If you have not done that, I recommend you not believe anything anyone says at this point, not even statistics. Then take a trip to Hatteras and talk to the people, all of the people. Then tell these people that they don't have a good reason to be fighting for what they believe in and that they are wasting our Senators and Representatives time and money. Tell them that. While you are at it, tell these people that they don't know how to take care of God's creatures and Natural Resources. Tell them that you have to be a Scientist, Judge, Lawyer, or Member of Audubon or Defenders of wildlife to be capable of understanding about birds and turtles and caring for our beaches. That is basically what they have already been told.

Then, think back to a time when small groups of people, while greatly out numbered and financially over powered, fought for something they believed in because they had been made a promise. Think of those that had their way of life altered by someone that had never stood among them. Then say you can't understand why Our Senators and Representatives are now involved. Maybe you should ask them, they were not forced to look into this situation. The people of Hatteras are few in number compared to the environmental groups involved in these issues. They are not nearly in the same league financially as these groups. Many segments of our great society would possibly say they are actually rather insignificant in the overall scheme of things. Why are these Senators and Representatives even bothering with them? Could it be because they believe these people have received less than a fair shake. Wouldn't that be something.

I still question whether it is really about the birds and turtles. Look beyond the questionable statistics and the skewed science. Remember the 1200 plus animals trapped and killed during the same period that the statistics say survival rates increased. But all that you heard is it must have resulted from the increased restriction of orv and pedestrian access. Let common sense be your guide and see where it takes you. It's not just Hatteras, it's happening all over the country. I would be the first to say that all the above mentioned groups consist of some truly great people doing great things. However, that does not mean they are all right or right all the time. Please don't take for granted that they are.

Thanks for the opportunity to address this issue.

Kurt, hope you are doing well.

I have lived on Hatteras Island for 40 years. Fished and enjoyed about ever recreational aspect this island it has to offer. I loved the old locals who can trace their families trees back generations. There are not many of them left, they viewed "beach birds" as food and lumped most of the shorebirds as sea chickens.

I can say for certain that the great majority the newly moved to second homers , new business owners and frequent visitors were ambivalent to anything other than fishing. They couldn't tell a tern from a gull or care or understand the plight of beach nesting birds. No one started to profess their nurturing and care of the other resources until biologist and scientist started pointing out to them how bad some of these animals were doing. The bigger concern was how a national seashore that didn't have an ORV driving plan was being turned literally into a national beach parking lot.

There isn't some secret plan to rid the Park of people ( just look at CAHAs website). The park has all kinds of free programs run by park staff to educate people on all kinds of fun things to do in the park. They run the gamut: history talks, fishing programs, bird watching walks etc. This park is continually promoting itself to visitors.

The predictor control program is targeting feral cats, raccoons, opossums and introduced red foxes. Sport fishermen here kill thousands and thousands of baitfish for catch and release fishing for top predator fish maybe they have a secret agenda to wipe out jumping mullet.
All this brew ha ha is about driving vehicles on the beach.

I was born in California in 1940, the state had a population of 6 million. Now, in 2013, we have a population of 37 million and counting. Restrictions on the uses of public lands were minimal when I was a young boy, but the pressure of use from increased population has resulted in restrictions many of us our having trouble getting use to. I want to thank you Buxton, I have little knowledge of Cape Hatteras, having been there only once about 15 years ago. I must agree with you however. We have a like issue here in California with perhaps the last beach/dunes area on the North/Central coast, that allows driving and camping and, at times, general mayhem, on the beach, ie Pismo Beach State Recreation Area. Great place to visit, but be careful of weekends, your tent will be surrounded by ORVs all night. circling like our great old western movies showing the wagon trains being attacked. Much drinking and general heck raising to say the least. Same issues, same outcry every time some restraints are suggested on the use of the beach, know its difficult to do, but at some point the birds, etc, need some space also.

Gentlemen,

It is apparent that you believe regulation of the seashore is necessary. Guess what, the vast majority of the free and open beach access advocacy groups do, also. That is why a two year Neg-Reg took place. At least until SELC went to court after agreeing not to. Then came the over-reach with unreasonable regulations dictated totally by the environmental groups, thru their Lawyers, to Judge Boyle. And yes, the terms of Judge Boyle's 'consent decree' were agreed to by All. I assume everyone is familiar with Dare County Commissioner Warren Judge's response to that item, which went something like, "We had the choice of being shot in the foot or shot in the head".

Now, please be aware that SB 486, as ammended, was just marked up in committee, and by unanimous vote, will be sent to the full Senate floor. This was done by the BY-Partison committee on Energy and Natural resources. Could it be that the NPS plan is not as balanced as some may claim. A similar measure has already gone to the floor of the House. I do not know what the outcome will be. What ever it is, everyone will have to live with it. Hopefully it will truly be fair and balanced, that is all the free and open beach access folks are looking for. I really believe that our Senators and Representatives will do what is right for all the people, wildlife and resources.

re: "I really believe that our Senators and Representatives will do what is right for all the people, wildlife and resources."

If this issue comes to a "political settlement," I hope the above sentiment is the outcome.

With the crush of bills competing for time in both the House and Senate, I fear I've become a bit cynical that very few bills receive much thought and review by the majority of the members of either chamber, and the best chance for analysis of the merits of a bill comes at the committee level. The tendency (tradition) on such issues is go along with the sentiments of the elected rep. for the area, and his or her opinions (and thus the wording of the bill) will reflect the views of whichever group has managed to capture his or her ear.

For better or worse, that's our system.

The ORVers might have caught a lucky break on S. 486 with democric Senator Manchin from West Virginia who happens to fish in ORV fishing tournaments in CHNS and sits on the committee. He has some ORV fishing buddies friends that have bent his ear. It is unlikely S. 486 would have left the subcommittee if it wasn't for him. Of course the amended version might bite them in the blank with resource buffers there is still a big potential problem for them there. I hope some environmentally sound ORV and Pedestrian alternate routes can be salvaged from S. 486 to get to around closed resource areas to areas that are still open. I would love to see some changes to the final plan that would improve access for all users but I doubt ORV side will agree to that because they all are consumed about ORV access and little else.

OBXguys is incorrect about the environmental groups being dishonest about the regneg. They issued their intent to sue long before the regneg started and filed their suit before the regneg convened the first meeting. They were just doing what they told everyone was their intention from the beginning.

They should have had better people to represent them at the consent decree you won't get much sympathy from me because Commissioner Judge and friends don't negotiate well, they signed it, man up.

Jim,

I find your comment to have profound merit. Especially in this case due to bipartisan sponsors, bipartisan negotiators, bipartisan unanimous vote, in favor of, as ammended. Look at the senators involved, amazing. Look at how they worked together with one goal, to come up with a solution that hopefully everyone can live with, even if they do not believe it to be perfect. As written, it does leave the door open for everyone to be involved in trying to find that perfection as we move ahead. No one had a door slammed in their face. Quite a contrast compared to Judge Boyle's courtroom

Is everyone satisfied, I think not. Is anyone completely satisfied, probably not. Will everyone be able to live with the outcome, if it ultimately passes ? I hope so.

I am just impressed with everyone involved, that's all. "For better or worse".

Buxton,

Sorry that I appear to have disregarded your post. I write slow and intermittently and was un aware your post fell betweem Jim's and my response to him.

I agree the orv group may have caught a lucky break with Senator Manchin. I heard him admit that he has visited the seashore. I admit it is possible his association with the fishing community may have some influence on his viewpoint of the issues at hand. On the other hand, it possibly gives him a better insight into the issues than is had by most. Are you insinuating that this has swayed what he believes to be right or wrong on these issues? I will give you the benefit of the doubt on that one.

As to the orv group being consumed about orv access, besides the inclusion of pedestrian access being limited, just what is it that you think this is all about. ORV and Pedestrian access are THE ISSUES. They are the only thing being taken away. The $120.00 permit fee on ORVs are the only thing being added when you get down to it.

As to being incorrect about the environmental groups and NEG-REG, the record speaks for itself. The timing and order of events is relatively insignificant. I may be wrong but, it is my understanding that by joining neg-reg it was with the understanding that no one would initiate litigation as long as it was in progress.

As to the consent decree, I doubt it would have made any difference who the orv group had in attendance. I would be very interested in hearing your account of what took place in that courtroom. Initially and subsequent to the initiar hearing. I was unable to be there. The information I recieved from those that were in attendance may not have been factual.

I do not know you, Buxton, however I have the feeling we are not that far apart in our feelings for the outer banks and all things associated. Though you may think I am taking jabs at you, it is actually just my way of making my point about things not always being as they appear. Please forgive me and I will try and 'man up'.

I can only surmise Senator Manchin's motivation but from what I read he was invited to stay at an establishment in Ocracoke ( part of CHNS) in a fishing tournament where everyone used an ORV to access the beach, went to the tournament dinners and meetings and hung out with people who were 100% united in their vision of a national seashore that allows one of the most liberal ORV policies on any developed coastline on the EastCoast. I am thinking his recreational use of the beach is pretty much what theirs is. I am sure he was wined and dined.

I believe the senate compromise is much more complicated. Hagan is going to suffer politically over this. I am quite sure she wishes this whole thing would have gone away, her political base doesn't like this and the locals who she supported will never support her. The rest of the democrats in the subcommittee watered down the bill so much the house might balk at the whole thing. If the house doesn't agree to the bill it will be dead in the Senate. The rest of the senate democrats went out on a limb with the compromise for a number of political reasons none of which included the NPS's ORV rule, they were fine with it and didn't like the idea of overturning a NPS NEPA formulated rule. If the bill is passed the conservation groups will lobby for fundamentally the same rules as the current rule if anything deviates signficantly from the original rule the courts will get involved. This bill will have unintended consequence and cause more uncertainty in management for CHNS.

Also if you read the bill carefully ( I am sure you have) the bill takes square aim at increasing ORV access into the vehicle free areas that were formally established in the current rule. This is why I come to the conclusion that this bill is about a special interest group ( ORV access users) that have established a strong historical use with established local and regional organisations . The Cape Hatteras Anglers Club and the North Carolina Beach Buggy Orgainizations are powerful local and regional special interest Organisations. Their former president camped out in Washington with the local county commissioner to get this bill done.

OBX guys I am certain we love and agree about many things concerning the Seashore and I appreciate your kind words. But I think we have a fundamental difference and a different historical context of the Seashore. I remember clearly when walking was the established, expected and normal way to access the Seashore for the many recreational activities visitors came to enjoy. I remember large sections of beach that were open to driving but used so little that you couldn't find a tire track. I witnessed the same beaches turned into (how I can only describe) as giant tail getting fishing party where the beach was churned up with ruts and and tire tracks from dune to the high tide line and littered with all the things one could only haul to the beach using a vehicle. I am not saying that is bad I just don't think it appropriate in a NP. I feel half of the beach dedicated to ORV use should be a comprise anyone can live with that appreciates and wants to maintain the wild natural beauty this Seashore was established for.

And to be absolutely clear I am for environmentally sound access and adaptive management practices that improves access for all users (that was the biggest flaw with the current rule IMO). Having met with and talked to conversation/environmental leaders directly involved in CHNS management I am 100% certain they feel the same way.


No need to apologise about your writing, I think you express yourself and interests well.

I've been a frequent visitor of CHNSRA for over 30 years and have gotten know several oldtimers. One who has raised generations of family on the island, told me a few weeks ago is so completely disgusted with the NPS, that he is planning to sell his property and leaving. His father gave miles of beach to the NPS and feels that they have broken their original promise. He said cringes everytime he sees an NPS representative.


Yes, this has got to be changed. 1000 meters is not enough. It really should be 2000 meters. ;-)


Technically it is 2000 meters wide, an amazing 1.2 mile wide buffer for a couple of chicks. As usual the NPS lied about their "best available science" that provided the recommendations for these excessive buffers.

The NPS has created "user conflict" which they claimed their plan would eliminate. We now have swimmers, surfers, and fishermen all trying to share the same small stretch of beach that is left open. Its the first time I can remember that there is no ORV access in Buxton on the first day of summer.

The REG NEG used the interim plan as foundation to start with. Those involved in the REG NEG had to agree not to sue, but the environmental groups claimed their lawsuit did not break the rules because it targeted the interim plan only. The lawsuit outraged access folks because it broke the rules and they knew it, but the NPS looked the other way.

Senator Machin gets it, he's actually visited the seashore. He unlike most Senators did more than just read the SELC press release and try to defend their perversions of the truth.


They couldn't tell a tern from a gull or care or understand the plight of beach nesting birds. No one started to profess their nurturing and care of the other resources until biologist and scientist started pointing out to them how bad some of these animals were doing. The bigger concern was how a national seashore that didn't have an ORV driving plan was being turned literally into a national beach parking lot.


Its shame the OBX Group NPS has done such a poor job of educating the visitors about the natural resources of the CHNSRA. Its also a shame that NPS stopped maintaining the habitat, the salt pond, these birds preferred, instead the broods are scrambling all over to find suitable habitat. I am not aware of any unbiased scientists or biologists that pointed how out bad the animals were doing. Those NPS biologists used the pedestrians and vehicles as culprit of they are own resource mismanagement.

Well Beachdumb overcrowded beaches overrun with ORVs and all the junk they drag out there is a recreational conflict to me and a bunch of other visitors. I get that you don't get it.

We might have some agreement on the salt pond as the NPS never should have dregged out that pond for a beach nourishment project back in the 70's. It is not a natural process. I am glad they don't do stuff like that now. Everything would have been better if they had left it alone. I'm not sure how but I wish they could put it back the it way it was, then leave it alone, natural processes will provide the correct habitat.

I also get you think the enviromentalist (who are concerned with something other than ORV access) lied about the regneg. Their lawyers, the NPS lawyers, and the regneg facilatators didn't think so or they wouldn't have been at the table.

There is an easy way to tell if ORV access affects wildlife. We just have to close beaches and monitor them, guess what some of that is happening as we speak. The ORVers are scared to death because they know what the results will be. I bet you would find any scientist's work that doesn't fit into your world view biased.

Beachdumb you misspoke it outraged the ORV access proponents, of course they are in a constant state of outrage about something.

Well Beachdumb overcrowded beaches overrun with ORVs and all the junk they drag out there is a recreational conflict to me and a bunch of other visitors. I get that you don't get it.

I do get it and there was plenty of ORV free beaches on the island, you can walk for miles North of Rodanthe and not see any ORV junk. Been that way since I started visiting, don't know where you've been.
I also get you think the enviromentalist (who are concerned with something other than ORV access) lied about the regneg. They, their lawyers, the NPS lawyers, and the regneg facilatators didn't think so or they wouldn't have been at the table.

Lawyers, I get it. No poet ever interpreted nature as freely as a lawyer interprets the truth.

There is an easy way to tell if ORV access affects wildlife. We just have to close beaches and monitor them, guess what some of that is happening as we speak. The ORVers are scared to death because they know what the results will be. I bet you would find any scientist's work that doesn't fit into your world view biased.

Have you been paying attention? Compared to this time last year(the first year of new rules), overall visitation is down, bird success is way down, turtle nesting is way down, and visitor frustration is way high.

Uh oh, those "groups" better find some new revenue streams. The wheels are coming off those group's abuse of the ESA... The SELC is not going to like this:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr1493

H.R. 1493: Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2013

To impose certain limitations on consent decrees and settlement agreements by agencies that require the agencies to take regulatory action in accordance with the terms thereof, and for other purposes.

beachdumb,

As I said, it is happening all over and a lot of folks have had enough. We may very well lose the battle but, they will know they were in a fight. I have already asked my congressman to co-sponsor HR1493. You know, I have never minded a good fight, just don't like paying for both sides just to be in it. I remember friendly exercises at PI back in the 60s. You knew who you were fighting because you were looking him in the eye. Things have not been that clear since then. Probably never will.

To Buxton,

I am sorry but I have not seen that "junk" come off those trucks on the beach, much less left there. I have seen stuff left by some that walk on and I probably would have had to think twice about carrying it back off myself. And I have done my turn cleaning the beaches. This occurs, as often, in front of camp sites, villages and "vehicle free areas". I also just remembered an old saying, "One man's junk is another man's treasure". Just came to me. Figured a little humor was due about now.

This will probably do it for me.

Thanks for the conversation.

Lets go fishing. Have not had a chance to wet a line this year. Hope you guys have.

You better get that line wet soon, Ron, summer's practically half over....;-)

A few years ago, I tried to retire. I got voted down. How do you tell your son and all the guys that worked for you and helped you be successful that you won't help them now. I have to tell you, I had it easy running the show. I had more free time then than I do now. They made it easy for me. But, with what they are up against today trying to make it with a small business, I don't know. I fear many will fail. I can't help them as much as they helped me. They will make it and I will give them all that I can because they are all like sons to me.

I keep saying that the time for fishing will come. Maybe when we stop spending so much time fighting for the right and the access. Some times I wonder if I even know what it is all about anymore. Then somebody lights a new fire under my butt.

I am on volunteer standby to go out on head boat with kids tomorrow if they need me. HOFNOD ( Hooked on Fishing - Not on Drugs) Virginia Beach. I would get to bait hooks and release fish, probably Croakers. Great organization. Might be as close as I get to a fish for a while.

Hope you are doing well and the offer still goes if you can make it down. You owe me the opportunity to try and tweak your opinions just a little. I swear, it won't hurt a bit.

Best to you,

Ron

Beachdumb it is a one way street with you guys, when baselines look good it has nothing to do with the new ORV rule but when the same baseline show a decline it is fault of the new rule.

I am suspicious when visitors to CHNS become concerned with the local economy. I feel if they were that concerned they would quit exaggerating all the hype that the beaches are closing, the Park doesn't want visitors, there is an environmental conspiracy, I'm never coming back etc. The negative PR,that people with no economic interest, have promoted has absolutely harmed this economy, all because they basically want unlimited ORV access on the Park's beaches. Under the new ORV rule you have miles of the best fishing, surfing, kiteboarding, shelling beaches to drive on outside of the known resource closures in the spring and early summer. Your combative in your face attitude is the mirror image of the modus operandi of the ORV representatives that are negotiating for ORV access. It is too bad because there could and should be responsible adaptive management practices that would provide more and better access for all.

Yep Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, glad you brought that up. PINWR is wonderful area north of Rodanthe and contiguous with CHNS. They don't allow driving on the beach. The Refugee allowed driving on its beaches years ago but stopped it, not so the greenies would have a place to sing Kumbaya but because they acknowledged ORV use as a problem for the flora and fauna of refugee's beach. They don't see pedestrian access as such. And in case you don't know management of PINWR is not connected with management of CHNS other than policing the highway and some maintenance overlaps. And no I don't think telling me to go drive 25 miles to PINWR to get that experience is equitible.

The junk I was referring to was not trash that was left but tents, umbrellas, pig cookers, volleyball nets, flags etc etc (in addition to the parking lot conditions and vehicles coming and going all day long) that people in vehicles feel they need to take to the most remote sections of the Park that I find obnoxious. You guys are welcome to all that just give me an opportunity to have an equitable experience separate from that.

Public quote from Dare county Commissioner actively involved in ORV access negotiations, individual names in quote redacted by me.

"Once again the special interest groups dedicated to the ruin of all human life on Hatteras Island are working overtime on the propaganda that supports their false claims. We must work overtime to counter the misleading tales from XXXX. XXXX , who lives in Wilmington, N.C.; XXXX. XXXXX , who lives in Chapel Hill, and XXXX. XXXX , who lives in Washington, D.C. How these men have any credibility on the status of Hatteras Island is beyond me. However, they create havoc in Washington, D.C. "

Buxton, that is one excellent comment.

Oh Brother

Buxton, it has never been proven that previous management methods had any bearing on species success or failure. There were always closures and protections for species at the seashore for as long as I can remember.

The anti-access “groups” referred to in this article and Kurt attribute the “record nesting” and “restored wildlife” on the seashore to the new management plan. It is just not true, they know it, we know it, but it is regurgitated constantly in defense of their new plan. It is just propaganda that attempts to support their false claims. These “groups” are used to spinning the truth to garner support from their uninformed members. Its seems you've bought it, hook, line and sinker...

I don’t know anyone that is advocating "unlimited beach access" and nor anyone claiming all the beaches are closed, that is rhetoric falsely claimed by those "groups" trying to discredit the pro access groups. Also those “groups” claim that returning the previous plan would have no species protection at all, just more false rhetoric.

Yeah PINWR didn’t restrict ORV access because it affected wildlife, they just did it because it didn’t fit their version of flora and fauna. And they don’t use the extreme “pedestrian buffers” either, wonder why that is?

How about the miles of beach between Hatteras Village to Frisco and Buxton to Avon? They’ve been closed to ORVs for a long time. Again, where have you been? There was plenty of opportunity to have an equitable experience separate from that for a long time, stop pretending you didn’t. I’m beginning to wonder if you really live there.

Pulled the names from the quote, because you didn’t want to offend your buddies? Birds of the feather flock together. ;-)

Beachdumb

Yes there have been resource closures in the Park for a long time. But if you believe NPS biologists, coastal geologist and avian biologist they were lacking. ORV groups fight any changes that increase resource protection. There is a documented case of least terns chicks being crushed by ORVs near Hatteras Inlet when ORVers demanded and got a ORV trail opened. Resource measures are not that complicated, the CHNS official web page states:

"At Cape Hatteras National Seashore, beach closures are established to provide undisturbed habitat needed by breeding birds to successfully nest and raise their young."

I am not sure what time of year you visit the beach but I have witnessed parking lot conditions where large (1 mile or better) sections look like they have been cultivated by a blind farmer with industrial farm machinery. To suggest that this type of use doesn't have an affect on emergent vegetation or barrier island ecology is ludicrous. (Any grad students looking for a thesis to work on?)

Did you miss the sign coming into Buxton that states "Park Closing"? It is still there, checked yesterday. Misinformation and the sky is falling alarmist rhetoric abounds on HI. Every negative economic blip is attributed to the new ORV rule but never considers the effect that the only road to the island that has been washed out for weeks at a time has or the national economic recession. The negative PR has gotten so bad that the very pro ORV access local Internet newspaper (Island Free Press) editor has addressed it more than once.

Just what do you think PINWR's version of flora and fauna is? PINWR does close sections off to pedestrians that are not as restrictive. I guess because they didn't have to deal with ORVers demanding that the same rules apply to pedestrians as apply to ORVs, in addition to not having to manage 8000 lb vehicles churning their beaches into rutted messes. Go back to the regneg meetings and listen to what the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club president said about birds and pedestrians. The pedestrians restrictions in the new rule are there because ORVers advocacy and comments. The only time ORV groups are concerned about pedestrians issues is on ORV accessible beaches. It is a token response.

The area between Frisco and Hatteras and Buxton to Avon was never designated pedestrian access beach. That beach was closed to vehicles for vehicle safety reasons, never assigned as pedestrian access only. Parts of those beaches were changed back to ORV beaches at the instance of the ORV organisations before the final rule was established. The beach is so eroded in those areas that highway 12 has been moved west 2 times in Buxton. The beach and highway 12 are close to being in the same place. The same is true outside of Hatteras where the entire road was washed away and a new inlet formed with Hurricane Isabel. Those are the pedestrian beaches the ORV side begrudgingly agreed to.The Park's new ORV rules designates, for now, those areas ( and some others) as vehicle free areas, of course the ORV advocates during regneg wanted the caveat added that should they ever become suitable (wide enough) for driving that it would be allowed. The new amended version of S. 486 continues to take dead aim at reducing and ellimimating as much vehicle free areas as possible.

From the amended bill,

"The Secretary shall undertake a public process to consider, consistent with management requirements at the National Seashore, the following changes to the Final Rule:

(2) Extending seasonal off-road vehicle routes for additional periods in the Fall and Spring if off- road vehicle use would not create resource manage- ment problems at the National Seashore.

(3) Modifying the size and location of vehicle- free areas"

Extending seasonal off-road routes (2) for additional periods because of resource concerns makes no sense because those beaches are closed for pedestrian safety concerns not resource concerns. This is just a ploy to create less vehicle free seasonal time in front of the village beaches.

So yea it is pretty clear to me the ORVers are reluctantly ok assigning pedestrians to recreate in PINWR, small areas that could be changed to ORV routes and shorten seasonal ORV closures.

The commissioner's quote came from an article in the Island Free Press look it up if you are interested. Your wrong about why I redacted the names. I left the Commissioner's name off too, just did it as a courtesy to Kurt. It is clear to me why you added a comment that lent nothing to our discussion or addressed the quote. And yes I take offence when you and your friends describe themselves as the "access side" as if anyone who doesn't agree with your view is not. My history of Hatteras Islands goes back to the late 1950's. I love everything about this Park, even driving on the beach. I particularly enjoy watching visitors enjoying the Seashore. It saddens me that these new regulations were so long in coming almost as much as the changes that required them.