Beach Access Issues
March 21, 2008


Commissioner Judge challenges groups to drop the lawsuit and negotiate

By IRENE NOLAN


At the second day of negotiated rulemaking meetings to devise a long-term plan for driving off-road vehicles on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Warren Judge, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, addressed the committee after the public comment session.

About 15 islanders made public comments over two days on March 18 and 19, and after each session the 30 members of the committee had an opportunity to respond.

Judge took that opportunity and addressed his comments to his fellow committee members Jason Rylander of Defenders of Wildlife, Walker Golder of the National Audubon Society, and their attorney Derb Carter of the Southern Environmental Law Center, all of whom are involved in a lawsuit that over the legality of ORV access on the beaches and have requested a temporary injunction to close popular beaches until the lawsuit is settled.

Judge made it clear at the meeting and at a meeting of the Board of Commissioners on March 17 that he does not think the issue of ORVs on seashore beaches should be settled in the courts, but rather through negotiations among stakeholder groups represented on the federally appointed committee.

“Derb, Jason, and Walker,” he said, “I ask for these lawsuits to be withdrawn, so we can negotiate here in good faith.”
The groups did not respond to his comments in public.

Dare and Hyde counties and the Cape Hatteras Preservation Alliance have been allowed to intervene in the lawsuit by the environmental groups against the National Park Service and other federal defendants over the inadequacies in the Interim Plan that will govern ORV use and protection of natural resources on seashore beaches until a long-term plan is in place.

Judge also made comments about the beach access issues at the March 17 board meeting.

“It’s not about ORV groups,” he said at that meeting.  It’s about access to the beaches…We need your help.







   


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