Beach Access Issues
July 28, 2008

Another violation of a protected area increases buffer at Ramp 27

The National Park Service staff discovered another violation of a resource protection area on Saturday, July 26, at the least tern colony north of Ramp 27.

The Park Service says the violation likely occurred between the time of high tide Saturday morning at 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Saturday when the violation was discovered.

The ranger who investigated the incident observed two separate vehicle tracks that had entered the closure, which was established to protect least tern nests and chicks, and reported that access was most likely gained by driving between the last Carsonite post and the tide line.  The vehicles traveled approximately one tenth of a mile into the closure, where the occupants got out of the vehicles and built a beach fire.  There were multiple foot prints around the fire area and at least two sets of human tracks that went from the fire approximately 200 feet up to the dune line. 
The April 30, 2008 consent decree related to shorebird and sea turtle protection at Cape Hatteras National Seashore requires the National Park Service to automatically expand a resource protection area by 50 meters for the first confirmed deliberate act that disturbs or harasses wildlife or vandalizes fencing, nests, or plants and 100 meters for a second violation. 

On May 26, there was a deliberate violation in this area as a result of an intentional entry violation (campfire/violation notice issue), and that buffer was modified on May 27.  Park staff documented the most recent violation on July 27 and expanded the closure by 100 meters (328 feet) in accordance with the consent decree. 

As a reminder, temporary resource protection areas are established to protect beach nesting bird nests, unfledged chicks, and sea turtle nests until the breeding cycle has been completed.  Posted areas are closed to vehicles, pedestrians, and pets.  In addition, under the consent decree beach driving is prohibited from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. from May 1 until Nov. 15, to increase the chances of successful sea turtle nesting.  Violation of park regulations, including entering a resource protection closure, are federal criminal violations, each subject to up to a $5,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment.

For more information, call 252-473-2111 ext. 148.

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