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Contact: Outer Banks Group, (252) 473-2111
Superintendent Mike Murray announced that on Monday, May 1st, 2006, the National Park Service opened an off-road vehicle (ORV) and pedestrian by-pass route along the ocean shoreline between Ramp 44 and Cape Point, and closed a 0.2 mile section of shoreline west/south of Cape Point for resources protection.
Throughout the spring, wind and high tides have eroded the beach from Ramp 44 south to Cape Point. This route has often been impassible during high tide, which has created both safety and access concerns. For alternative access to Cape Point, visitors had been using an interdunal route to access the beach west/south of Cape Point, then traveling east/north along the shoreline to the Point. A new by-pass of the narrow beach was established on May 1st behind the primary dune south of Ramp 44 to provide reliable, direct access to Camp Point. The by-pass was created after park management consulted with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and North Carolina CAMA officials. Also on May 1st, 2006, NPS officials modified an existing resource closure 0.6 miles west/south of Cape Point to include a 0.2 mile section of shoreline where piping plovers have been seen regularly foraging. The foraging area is adjacent to and contiguous with an area where piping plovers have been exhibiting breeding behavior. The piping plover is a small sand-colored shorebird that nests on sandy, coastal beaches from South Carolina to Newfoundland. Plovers feed on invertebrates such as marine worms, fly larvae, beetles, crustaceans or mollusks. Feeding areas include intertidal portions of ocean beaches, washover areas, mudflats, sandflats, wrack lines and shorelines of coastal ponds, lagoons or salt marshes. Since 1986, the Atlantic Coast population has been protected as a threatened species under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The effect of these adjustments on access will be that visitors can travel from Ramp 44 south directly to Cape Point along the north/east shoreline. Visitors can also access South Beach (west of Cape Point) directly via the interdunal route. To travel from Cape Point to South Beach, or vice versa, visitors will need to use the interdunal route to avoid the resource closure 0.6 mile west of Cape Point. “It is important to maintain reasonable access to recreational opportunities while also providing for the protection of park resources such as piping plovers,” said Superintendent Mike Murray. “This by-pass will provide reliable access to the popular Cape Point area, while the shoreline closure west/south of the Point will protect piping plover foraging habitat. The net effect is that visitors will still be able to access popular fishing areas with minimal inconvenience during this phase of the breeding season.”