Beach Access Issues
January 29, 2009

UPDATE:  Agenda is set for Feb. 3 meeting of negotiating committee

The National Park Service has released the agenda for the next meeting of the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

The meeting will be at the pavilion at Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills and will begin at 8:30 a.m.  The public can attend.  Public comment sessions will be at noon and at 5 p.m.

The committee, comprised of stakeholder groups, is charged with reaching a consensus that will help the Park Service formulate a long-term regulation for ORV access on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Since its last meeting on Jan. 6 and 7, subcommittees have had several meetings, mostly to try to reach consensus on some of the most difficult issues, including ORV use at the seashore’s points and spits, which are also favored areas for nesting shorebirds.

At Tuesday’s meeting, subcommittees will review the status of their work, and the group will try to reach conditional consensus, or narrow, as many issues as possible before the committee ends its work.

The committee’s last scheduled meeting is Feb. 26 and 27

Click here for agenda of Feb. 3 meeting

January 14, 2009

Negotiated rulemaking meeting is rescheduled

The meeting of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 21-22, has been cancelled. 

The Feb. 3 meeting will occur as scheduled and a Federal Register notice has been submitted to schedule a final meeting on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 26 - 27.  The latter meeting will begin each day at 8:30 a.m. at Wright Brothers National Monument in Kill Devil Hills.

The committee, comprised of 29 stakeholder groups, is attempting to reach consensus on a rule for operating off-road vehicles on the seashore.

According to the National Park Service, cancellation of the late January meeting will give subcommittees additional work time to continue preparation of proposals on several key unresolved issues, including the designation of ORV routes and areas, site specific management at inlets and Cape Point, hours of allowable night driving, and management of beaches in front of the villages during the off-season. 

“The intention is pure and simple to give subcommittees more time to work out an agreement,” seashore superintendent Mike Murray said in a phone interview. “We want to reserve the full committee time to discuss and develop a consensus.”

Murray said he has talked with committee members.  He said some don’t want any more meetings and some wanted to extend the timetable of the negotiated rulemaking committee, which is scheduled to finish its work in February.

The superintendent, who is also the leader of the negotiated rulemaking committee as it designated federal official, said that the Park Service has a schedule to get the final rule finished, published, and put in place.  That deadline is April, 2011.

At the last committee meeting on Jan. 6-7, some members asked Murray if the Park Service could extend the committee’s time to reach a consensus.

Murray said he didn’t see that happening because of the deadline to finish the plan.

“It is our intention that February will be the last meetings,” he said.

“There is a lot of agreement,” he said, “but it’s the hard stuff that remains.”

For instance, he noted, that the routes and areas subcommittee, which is charged with reaching a consensus on which areas of the seashore will be open to ORVs, has agreed on many areas.

“But,” he said, “there are a few areas of disagreement, and those are the hard nuts to crack.”

Most areas of disagreement on this subcommittee involve Bodie Island spit, Cape Point, South Beach, Hatteras Inlet spit, and the South Point of Ocracoke – all favorite areas with visitors, especially fishermen.

“My feeling,” Murray said, “is that there is agreement on more issues than there is disagreement….Some more effort has the possibility to be productive.”

The National Park Service has issued three action alternatives for an ORV rule, and it is hoping that the negotiated rulemaking committee will devise a fourth alternative.

However, if the committee cannot reach consensus, Murray said, the Park Service could issue a fourth alternative, based on the work of the committee and the areas in which its members did agree.

Murray said that whatever the outcome, the work of the committee, which has been formally meeting since January, 2008, has been “extremely valuable.” 

If the committee cannot agree on a rule by consensus, the Park Service will devise the rule, and, Murray said, all of the discussions of the last year will figure into that final rule.

“I really want to know as much as possible about what the committee can agree to,” he said.

Details and status of the subcommittee proposals will be reported to and deliberated by the full committee at the Feb. 3 meeting.  The late February meeting will provide the committee with time to integrate the various subcommittee documents into a comprehensive package for final deliberation.

“I commend the committee members for their continued hard work on these very difficult issues,” said seashore Superintendent Mike Murray.  “NPS is committed to completing the negotiated rulemaking process.  Though we are operating under firm deadlines for completing the process, I want to ensure that the remaining meetings are scheduled and structured to give the committee its best chance of success.”

The meetings are open to the public and there are public comment periods, usually at noon each day and at 5 p.m. on the first day of two-day meetings.  A schedule for the meetings will be posted on the site closer to the dates.


For an Island Free Press article on the National Park Service alternatives for ORV management:

You can read the National Park Service’s ORV management alternatives on this Web site.  The document is long and divided into subject areas.  Anyone with an interest in ORV driving should look at it. The most interesting documents are the narrative, management alternatives matrix, routes and areas table, and the maps. 

Click here for Park Service's ORV alternatives

Other information:

Members of the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee:
Updated List Of Negotiated rulemaking committee members and the organizations they represent

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