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Cape Lookout National Seashore Opens Public Scoping for Interim Protected Species Management Plan

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Date: October 25, 2005
Contact: Wouter Ketel, 252-728-2250 ext. 3005

Through two public scoping opportunities, the National Park Service (NPS) is asking for public input on the development of a Cape Lookout National Seashore (Seashore) Interim Protected Species Management Plan. This plan will be the guiding document for protected species management at the Seashore until the park¡|s Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan is completed in 2008 as currently scheduled.

Public participation is vital to the NPS planning process. Public scoping is an early and open process to determine the scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the plan and associated Environmental Assessment (EA). The NPS looks forward to receiving input from everyone, particularly on issues identified, concerns you may have, and any ideas for alternatives that will meet the need, purpose, and objectives of this planning process. The comments and concerns gathered during public scoping will be used in the development of the plan and EA.

In order to provide for broad public comment, the NPS will be holding two public scoping meetings and accepting comments on-line at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/CALO or by direct mailing.

The two public scoping meetings are scheduled on:

* November 8, 2005 from 6:00 ¡V 9:00 p.m. At the Duke Marine Lab, 135 Duke Marine Lab Road, Beaufort, NC. 6:00 ¡V 7:00 sign-in and open house 7:00 ¡V 7:30 short presentation 7:30 ¡V 9:00 open house

* November 9, 2005 from 6:00 ¡V 9:00 p.m. At the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, 1205 Island Road, Harkers Island, NC. 6:00 ¡V 7:00 sign-in and open house 7:00 ¡V 7:30 short presentation 7:30 ¡V 9:00 open house

Each meeting will begin with an open house and short presentation which provides an opportunity to look at informational posters and slides, and to ask questions or give comments to park staff. Following the presentation, the open house will continue and public comments will be recorded. The comments and concerns gathered during public scoping will be used in the development of the Interim Protected Species Management Plan/EA.

If you cannot attend the public scoping meetings, you can easily participate by submitting comments by December 9, 2005 directly on-line on the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) web site at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/CALO.

Select the Interim Protected Species Management Plan project, and use the Submit Your Comments for Public Scoping link found in the ¡§Documents and Links¡¨ section.

If you cannot use the internet, you may mail written comments to: Superintendent, Cape Lookout National Seashore, 131 Charles Street, Harkers Island, NC 28531.

Please include your full name, mailing address, and e-mail address, if available, with your comments so that we may add you to our mailing list and provide you with information throughout this planning process. Comments must be received by December 9, 2005.

After the public scoping meetings in November 2005, the NPS will complete the development of alternatives, analyze impacts of the alternatives, and prepare a draft plan and EA that will be released for public review. Once the public review period for the plan and EA is over, the NPS will analyze and respond to public comments, prepare any revisions needed to the plan, and consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) regarding the plan. It is anticipated that a decision will be made and the plan implemented in the spring of 2006.

Updates on the planning process, meeting notices, and documents will be provided as they become available on the NPS PEPC web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/CALO in the Interim Protected Species Management Plan/EA project.

INTERIM PROTECTED SPECIES MANAGEMENT PLAN PROJECT INFORMATION (OPEN FOR PUBLIC COMMENT)

BACKGROUND

The Seashore is beginning the process to develop an Interim Protected Species Management Plan/EA. This plan will guide management practices for protection of species over the next 3-4 years until a long term Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) management plan and regulations are developed. The plan will describe practices that will be used to ensure protection of the species while allowing for visitor use. The benefits of the plan and its development process include allowing for a means of public input and comments, meeting the requirements under the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and setting forth plans for how the park will allow recreational use while protecting species. PURPOSE AND NEED

The purpose of taking action at this time is to evaluate and implement strategies to protect sensitive species while allowing for appropriate recreational use, as directed in the enabling legislation, NPS management policies, the Endangered Species Act, and other laws and mandates until the long-term ORV Management Plan is developed.

An Interim Protected Species Management Plan/EA would meet the following need until the long-term ORV Management Plan is completed:

* There is a need for a management plan to prevent adverse effects to protected species in compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), NPS management policies, and park enabling legislation.

ISSUES IDENTIFIED

The following highlights several of the issues identified early on in the planning process:

* Federally Listed Threatened and Endangered Species: Recreational activities at the Seashore could impact federally threatened or endangered species and their habitat, on the beach and soundside of the Seashore. Conflicts between the listed species and recreational use could create direct or indirect losses to the species.

* Visitor Use and Experience: Management of protected species could result in adverse and beneficial changes to visitor use and experience.

* Other Sensitive Species: Habitat for the American oystercatcher and colonial waterbirds may be vulnerable to recreational uses.

* Local and Regional Economics: Management of protected species could affect local and regional economics.

* Park Operations and Management: Accommodating recreational uses while protecting sensitive species requires sufficient park personnel and adequate funding. Park operations (staffing and funding) may be affected by protected species management strategies.

Did You Know?

Portsmouth villagers stand on the steps of their newly completed church in 1915.

Portsmouth Village had as many as 685 people living there near its height in 1860. Buildings still standing there today include a church, Life-Saving Station, post office and school. Cape Lookout National Seashore More...