Agreement Reached to Preserve Wildlife and Recreation Opportunities on Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Contact: National Park Service, David Barna (202) 208-6843
Contact: Cyndy Holda, (252) 473-2111 ext 148
Washington, DC – The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that a settlement has been reached that will protect nesting areas for Piping Plovers and other species and allow recreational opportunities for park visitors. According to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray, a consent decree was filed on April 16, 2008 in US District Court whereby the parties involved in the lawsuit to regulate beach driving along Cape Hatteras National Seashore (federal government, environmental organizations, local counties, and recreationists) agreed to a settlement of the case.
This agreement will allow off-road vehicle beach (ORV) access to remain open year round. It is not expected to affect the fall or winter fishing season, and will allow many areas of the beach to remain open to recreational use. Terms of the consent decree will result in buffers being established during portions of the spring and summer around bird breeding and nesting areas, including creating a 1000 meter vehicle perimeter and a 300 meter pedestrian perimeter around piping plover chicks until they have fledged.
"The agreement reached between the NPS and the other parties to the lawsuit is a creative solution that addressed a tough issue," said Lyle Laverty, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. "The Department, the NPS, and the Park are committed to meeting our mission objectives as well as working to mutual benefit with the local tourism and fishing community. This well thought out plan will serve as an example of how we fulfill our responsibilities and meet the needs of all parties involved."
The compromise prevented a complete year-round shutdown of ORV access to six popular fishing areas and was able to accommodate all parties’ interests. There will be various closures, particularly during the breeding season, to protect plovers and other species, but the park will generally remain open.
The park is working closely with a negotiated rulemaking advisory committee, which is helping NPS develop an ORV regulation and management plan for Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Park Superintendent Mike Murray said, "This is a positive step to resolve the issues raised in the lawsuit and will allow us to focus our effort on development of the long –term ORV management plan and regulation. As we implement the settlement, we will keep all interested parties informed about the status of beach access, as well as about wildlife breeding activities that are occurring on the Seashore."
Did You Know?
In the 1700s, Ocracoke Inlet was one of the busiest inlets in the East. It was one of the few navigable waterways for ships accessing inland ports such as Elizabeth City, Edenton or New Bern. It was here that Blackbeard the pirate found the inlet's heavy shipping traffic ripe for easy pickings.