2008 Consent Decree
Off-Road Vehicle Management Planning in Progress
For the past several years, the National Park Service (NPS) has been in the process of developing the first ORV management plan for Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The plan will provide for resource protection (including protected, threatened and endangered species), visitor access and safety, and address potential conflicts among various park users.
The plan will also ensure that ORV use is managed to satisfy applicable laws and an executive order that has been in place since 1972, which requires the NPS to develop special regulations for parks that allow ORV use.
2008 Consent Decree
In October 2007, Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (plaintiffs) filed a lawsuit against the NPS alleging inadequacies in management of protected species at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and failure of the park to comply with the requirements of the ORV executive order and NPS regulations regarding ORV use.
The species identified for protection included: the piping plover (federally-listed threatened), several species of colonial waterbirds (state-listed threatened and Species of Special Concern), the American oystercatcher (state-listed Species of Special Concern), and several species of sea turtles (federally-listed threatened and endangered).
In April 2008, a U.S. District Court Judge signed a consent decree to settle the lawsuit. The consent decree was agreed to by the plaintiffs and the NPS; and by Dare and Hyde Counties and a coalition of local ORV and fishing groups (Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance) which participated in the lawsuit as intervenors. The consent decree, which is enforceable by the court, provides for specific species protection measures and requires the NPS to complete the ORV plan and required special regulation by Dec. 31, 2010 and April 11, 2011 respectively.
New ORV and Species Protection Requirements
To meet the legal requirements of the consent decree, the NPS must:
Protected species closure violations that disturb or harass wildlife, or vandalizes fencing, nests, or plants are mandated to expand 50 meters for the first violation, 100 meters for the second, and 500 meters or more for the third. These violations may have up to a $5,000 fine and/or imprisonment up to 6 months.
Did You Know?
When the Home sank on Diamond Shoals off of Cape Hatteras in 1837, there were only two life jackets for all 130 people on board. Ninety people died. Congress passed the Steamboat Act the next year, requiring all vessels to carry one life jacket per passenger.