| April 21, 2008
Judge in ORV lawsuit orders more information from Park Service…UPDATED
By IRENE NOLAN
District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle has ordered the National Park
Service to provide more information before he approves the settlement
of the legal action over off-road vehicle use on the Cape Hatteras
The parties to the lawsuit – plaintiffs, defendants, and
intervenors – filed a settlement, known as a consent decree, with
the court on Wednesday, April 16.
The lawsuit in this case was filed in October by Defenders of Wildlife
and the National Audubon Society, represented by the Southern
Environmental Law Center, against the National Park Service and other
federal defendants. Dare and Hyde counties and the Cape Hatteras
Access Preservation Alliance were allowed by Boyle to enter the legal
action as defendant/intervenors.
Details of the settlement are available in the Shooting the Breeze
column by editor Irene Nolan on the front page of The Island Free Press
The settlement, which has been approved by the parties to the lawsuit must now be approved by Boyle.
Boyle had not responded to the settlement until Friday afternoon, April 18.
In two orders filed on Friday afternoon, he asked the Park Service to
respond in writing within seven days to seven questions and to appear
in his court on Monday, April 21, to provide the court with an
examination of the maps that are part of the consent decree.
The questions he posed include:
• Whether the consent decree established any
control over access to beach driving at existing seashore ramps.
• The description and location of the ramps from
Highway 12 to the beach as they now exist on the seashore.
• Whether there will be under the consent decree
a numerical count of the number of vehicles that enter or have access
to the beach.
• Restrictions or limitations on the type, size,
weight, and characteristics of vehicles that will have access to the
beach under the consent decree.
• Whether the consent decree requires separate
permitting and qualification of a driver and vehicle, including a
processing fee before either driver or vehicle are eligible for beach
• Whether the consent decree requires safety screening or qualification of beach drivers.
• Whether the consent decree takes into account the safety of bathers and pedestrians.
In addition to answering the questions by next Friday, Boyle had
ordered a suitable representative, or representatives, not to exceed
three people, from the National Park Service to appear at the U.S.
Courthouse in Elizabeth City at 2:30 p.m. Monday for an “in
camera ex parte” proceeding to examine maps of pre-nesting areas
and closure data.
However, Boyle cancelled that meeting in an annotation filed on Saturday by a court clerk.
An “in camera” proceeding refers to a hearing or inspection
of documents that takes place in private, often the judge’s
chambers. “Ex parte” means that it will happen
without the other parties in the case.
Boyle’s order noted the court would make a record of the
proceeding, but that record would not be made public or provided to
To read Judge Boyle’s two-page order in this case:
To read Judge’s Boyle’s Order for In Camera Review: