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
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
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
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
at WrightBrothersNational 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
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
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.
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.”
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.
an Island Free Press article on the National Park Service alternatives for ORV
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.