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Contact: George E. Price, Jr., Superintendent, 508 349 3785 x203
Cape Cod National Seashore Superintendent George E. Price, Jr. has announced that a Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) has been completed for the National Seashore’s hunting program. The 1961 legislation establishing Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS) allowed the National Park Service (NPS) 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, 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 being released today.
The Final EIS describes and evaluates the environmental consequences of three alternatives for managing hunting at CCNS which are:
- No Action: This alternative would manage hunting within CCNS as it had been prior to 2003, including re-establishment of the pheasant hunt.
- Develop a Modified Hunting Program - the preferred alternative: This alternative would phase out pheasant stocking and hunting over a 14 to 17 year period; 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 with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
- Eliminate Hunting: This alternative would eliminate all hunting within CCNS. A sub-element of this alternative would only eliminate pheasant hunting.
The National Park Service will sign a Record of Decision adopting the preferred alternative no sooner than 30 days following release of the Final EIS.
Superintendent Price said, "The preferred alternative will retain hunting as part of Cape Cod National Seashore's cultural heritage, address many of the concerns raise by non-hunting visitors, and better reflect NPS management policies. Public participation has been key to developing this EIS, and we appreciate everyone's input and patience throughout this process."
The Final EIS can be accessed on line at http://www.nps.gov/caco/parkmgmt/planning.htm, or from CCNS's home page (http://www.nps.gov/caco) by following the "Management" and then "Park Planning" links. Hard copies of the Final EIS will also be available at outer Cape libraries, and at the Province Lands and Salt Pond Visitor Centers, and CCNS Marconi Headquarters for onsite review.