Decision Reached Regarding the Hunting Program at Cape Cod National Seashore
Contact: George E. Price, Jr., Superintendent, 508 349 3785 x 203
Today the National Park Service (NPS) announces its decision regarding the hunting program at Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS). In the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), the NPS selected the preferred alternative described in the Final EIS. This alternative, Develop a Modified Hunting Program, will guide future management of hunting within CCNS. This decision permits the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW) to resume stocking pheasants within the seashore, but will then phase out pheasant stocking over the next 14 to 17 years. The decision will also allow the continuation of waterfowl and upland game hunting in a manner consistent with State and Federal regulations; increase hunting opportunities for native upland bird species by allowing a turkey hunt; improve habitat conditions for northern bobwhite quail; clarify where hunting is and is not allowed within the park; increase the no-hunting safety buffers along bike paths; expand outreach to hunting and non-hunting visitors regarding safety; and increase cooperative monitoring and management of the hunting program with MDFW. Since this decision comes after this year’s hunting season has started, to minimize confusion, the existing rules regarding where hunting is and is not allowed within CCNS will remain in place during the current hunting season. Implementation of the expanded buffers and closures described in the Final EIS will begin with the 2008 fall hunting season.
The 1961 legislation that established Cape Cod National Seashore allowed the National Park Service to permit hunting within the seashore, and hunting has been regulated by existing state law and seashore-specific special regulations since that time. In 2002, CCNS was sued for failure to follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) with respect to the hunting program, and failure to comply with NPS Management Policies regarding the introduction of exotic species (pheasants). In September 2003, the U.S. District Court ordered CCNS to review the hunting program using the alternatives analysis and public participation approach required by NEPA. The court also enjoined the pheasant hunt until CCNS completed the NEPA process. In 2004, CCNS initiated the NEPA process by holding numerous public scoping meetings and soliciting public input on hunting in the park. Using the information gathered during the scoping process and the results of studies conducted to fill key information gaps, CCNS prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) for public review and comment. There was a 60-day public comment period on the Draft EIS in the spring of 2006, and two public meetings were held during the comment period. Over 200 comments were received on the Draft EIS - these comments were used to improve the draft and produce the Final EIS. Using the information and analyses in the Final EIS, the NPS determined that the preferred alternative, Develop a Modified Hunting Program, best met the goals, objectives, and policies of the NPS and CCNS. This decision is summarized in the Record of Decision.
Superintendent Price said, "This decision will retain hunting as part of Cape Cod National Seashore's cultural heritage, address many of the concerns raised by non-hunting visitors, and better reflect NPS management policies. Public participation has been key to this effort, and we appreciate everyone's input and patience throughout this lengthy process."
The Final EIS and ROD can be accessed on line at http://parkplanning.nps.gov, at http://www.nps.gov/caco/parkmgmt/planning.htm, or from the seashore’s home page (http://www.nps.gov/caco) by following the "Management" and then "Park Planning" links. Hard copies of the Final EIS are available at outer Cape libraries; copies of the Final EIS and the ROD are available at Province Lands Visitor Center and Salt Pond Visitor Center, and CCNS Marconi Headquarters for onsite review.