Nighttime Driving Prohibited on Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches
Contact: Outer BAnks Group, 473-2111 ext 148
Superintendent Mike Murray announced today that, under the Consent Decree signed on April 30, 2008 by U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle, a new seasonal restriction on nighttime beach driving will go into effect immediately on the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Beginning May 1, 2008, all Seashore beaches are closed to off-road vehicles (ORVs) between the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Paragraph 24 of the Consent Decree states: "To increase the chances of successful turtle nesting, the National Park Service (NPS) shall close all potential sea turtle nesting habitat (ocean intertidal zone, ocean backshore, and dunes) to nonessential ORV use from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. from May 1 to November 15, except as set forth in paragraph 25 below." Paragraph 25 states: "Between September 16 and November 15, NPS may issue night driving permits for authorized nonessential driving between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The permit application process shall have an educational component, and the permit shall contain restrictions on light use. During the September 16 to November 15 time period, NPS retains the discretion to limit night driving to certain areas or routes, based on resource protection considerations."
On April 16, 2008, all three parties involved in litigation over the Seashore’s Interim Protected Species Management Strategy jointly filed a proposed Consent Decree that would settle all of the issues raised by the Plaintiffs (Southern Environmental Law Center, National Audubon Society, and Defenders of Wildlife) in the lawsuit. The night driving restriction on Seashore beaches was one of the issues that the Plaintiffs, the Federal Defendants (National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior), and the Intervenor-Defendants (Dare County, Hyde County, and the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance) agreed to in the joint filing and which became enforceable when Judge Terrence Boyle signed the Consent Decree on April 30, 2008.
The night driving restriction will be posted at all Seashore ORV access ramps. During the dates the new requirement is in effect, the public is expected to remove ORVs from the beach by 10:00 p.m. and not to enter the beach with vehicles until 6:00 a.m. The regulation is enforceable by NPS law enforcement rangers. Violators are subject to up to six months imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine. To report violations, contact: Dare Central Communications: 252-473-3444. For further information, contact the Chief Ranger’s Office at 252-473-2111.