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Cape Cod National Seashore Superintendent George Price has announced that the Dune Shack Historic District Preservation and Use Plan/Environmental Assessment/Assessment of Effect (EA) is available for review by the public. A public meeting to discuss the plan is scheduled for May 10, 2011, from 5:30 to 7:00 PM at Province Lands Visitor Center, off Race Point Road, Provincetown.
The Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District, located within Cape Cod National Seashore, is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic district is composed of approximately 1,900 acres including both the historic buildings (dune shacks) and the dune landscape. Eighteen of the nineteen dune shacks are owned by the National Park Service (NPS) and are currently occupied by different groups and individuals under a variety of administrative instruments, such as leases, permits, and agreements. The purpose of the EA is to establish a Dune Shack Historic District Preservation and Use Plan that provides clear direction and consistency for NPS managers, dune shack dwellers, users, and advocates.
A public scoping meeting for the project was held on October 19, 2009. At that time the public provided input for the NPS and the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission (commission) to consider in developing the Dune Shack Historic District Preservation and Use Plan. The commission engaged its Dune Shack Subcommittee (subcommittee) to study the issues, develop alternatives, and provide a recommendation for the future management of the historic district. The subcommittee met 11 times between November 2009 and July 2010. All subcommittee meetings were publicly noticed and attended by members of the public. The subcommittee provided a detailed report to the commission in May 2010, and also held a public meeting to provide the public the opportunity to comment on the subcommittee's progress. The subcommittee's report was adopted by the full commission in July 2010. The report is the basis for the preferred alternative evaluated in the EA.
The EA addresses stewardship, access, and occupancy of the historic district. Under the preferred alternative, the public would continue to have daytime access to the historic district on foot, with vehicle tour operators, and on guided ranger programs. Off-district venues, such as park visitor centers and art galleries would be used to communicate the historic district's values to the public. Non-profit groups would continue to provide opportunities for overnight stays by the general public. To perpetuate historic district traditions, private residential use would continue under the NPS competitive leasing program. Periods of occupancy by individuals and non-profit groups would range from three to twenty years depending on the type of administrative instrument selected. The objective would be to achieve a balanced mix of uses, in which approximately 40% of the shacks would be used as private residences; 40% would be used by non-profits with opportunities for public overnight stays; and the remaining 20% would be allocated to either category. Individuals or groups that occupy the shacks would continue to perform preservation maintenance and bear the maintenance costs. Preservation maintenance practices would be prescribed for the historic buildings and the landscape. The addition of amenities, such as solar panels, septic systems, and electricity would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The park superintendent would be responsible for making decisions for the historic district, and a standing committee of the commission would assist the National Park Service in carrying out the plan.
The EA briefly discusses several alternatives that were considered but subsequently dismissed from detailed analysis. These include: operating the shacks as bed and breakfast businesses; using all the shacks as private residences and eliminating overnight use by the public; vacating the buildings and interpreting the district as a museum; using the shacks as backcountry shelters; using volunteers to maintain the shacks in exchange for occupancy.
The EA was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) to evaluate the impacts of the plan and provide an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the plan. Beginning May 2, review copies of the EA will be located at Provincetown and Truro libraries, Salt Pond Visitor Center, Province Lands Visitor Center, Cape Cod National Seashore Headquarters, and Provincetown and Truro town halls.
A digital version can be viewed on the Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/duneshackpreservationuseplan, and on the park's website at www.nps.gov/caco. A public comment period begins on April 27, 2011, and ends on June 10, 2011. Comments can be made at the public meeting on May 10; directly on the PEPC website noted above; by email to e-mail us; or by mail to Superintendent, Cape Cod National Seashore, 99 Marconi Site Road, Wellfleet, MA 02667.