Access and Park Issues
Pedestrian access to Cape Point
ORV access may come in two weeks
east side of Cape Point reopened to pedestrians yesterday, July 7, and
the area could be open to off-road vehicles in two weeks.
Access for pedestrians is via a corridor that begins about 100 meters
south of Ramp 44.
Although the piping plover chicks in the area east of Cape Point had
fledged by last week, access to the Point has remained closed because
of a resource protection closure for unfledged American oystercatcher
chicks south of Ramp 44.
The oystercatcher chicks, which are provided a 200-meter buffer under
the consent decree, have now fledged, and the access corridor has
reopened to pedestrians. Pets are not allowed in the
“Young oystercatcher fledglings are relatively large birds and weak
flyers and are less capable of getting out of the way of moving
vehicles or pets off leash,” the Park Service said in a media
release. “There is a two-week waiting period after
chicks fledge before an area is reopened to ORVs or pets. It
expected that the access corridor to the Point will reopen to ORV
access and pets in about two weeks, provided no new resource closures
occur in the area.”
According to the National Park Service’s weekly resource management
report, 15 piping plover chicks have fledged at Cape Point, which is
considerably more than the four fledged there last year.
Doug McGee, the Park Service’s lead biologist for Hatteras said that
increase may be partly because of the wet spring, which kept the areas
that the plovers like to forage in from drying up too early.
McGee said he also thinks that earlier pre-nesting closures benefited
this year’s breeding pairs, who settled down and started nesting
slightly earlier than last year.
There are three oystercatcher plover chicks that have not fledged from
west of Cape Point. McGee said those chicks are ready to fledge and
he doesn’t think this brood will interfere with opening access to
the point from the east at Ramp 44.
Last year, two piping plover chicks fledged on Ocracoke – for a total
of six in the seashore.
This year, McGee said, the chicks at Cape Point have had fewer losses
to predators, while the chicks on Ocracoke have been taken a heavy hit
from ghost crabs and other predators.
So far, no chicks have fledged on Ocracoke, McGee said, and only one
If Cape Point opens in two weeks – on or about July 21, it will be
earlier than last year.
The Point opened to pedestrians on July 17, 2009, and it opened to ORVs
on July 29.
Temporary resource protection areas are established to protect
threatened and endangered species, including piping plovers and sea
turtles, as well as state or federal species of concern, including
American oystercatchers and colonial waterbirds (terns and black