NPS releases Final
Impact Statement on ORV plan
By IRENE NOLAN
Service has released the Final Environmental Impact statement (FEIS)
for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Off-Road Vehicle Management
The final plan/EIS evaluates two no-action alternatives and four action
alternatives for managing ORV use and identifies their potential
The Park Service has chosen Alternative F in the FEIS as its preferred
“Alternative F is designed to provide visitors to the seashore with a
wide variety of access opportunities for both ORV and pedestrian
users,” according to an NPS media release.
The FEIS comes 8 months after the Park Service issued a draft version
of the plan in March. The public had an opportunity to attend public
hearings to give comments or to submit them in writing to the Park
The Park Service says that after the public comments were considered,
Alternative F was revised to provide more pedestrian access adjacent to
resource closures, where possible, and a more balanced approach to ORV
routes and vehicle-free areas than Alternative F provided in the
Alternative F in the FEIS designates one fewer mile for ORV routes
year-round than the draft version – 27.9 miles, compared to 29 in the
draft. (ORV routes are still subject to closure for resource protection
during the pre-nesting and nesting seasons.)
It designates fewer miles – 12.7 – for seasonal ORV routes than the
draft, which proposed 23 miles.
Areas designated as vehicle-free year-round increased by about 10 miles
– from 26.4 in the FEIS, compared to 16 in the DEIS.
Some major areas closed to ORVs year-round include:
mile at Bodie Island spit
- From Ramp
for 1.5 miles
- Ramps 27 to
- New Ramp
32.5 to Ramp
- The area
miles south of Ramp 38 to four-tenths of a mile north of Ramp 43
a miles west of Cape Point to 1.7 miles west of Ramp 45
- One mile of
at the Hatteras Inlet spit
- The North
Ocracoke to new Ramp 59.3
- New Ramp 63
mile northeast of Ramp 67
- Ramp 68 to
four-tenths of a mile northeast of Ramp 70 (day-use area)
For a more detailed chart of off-road vehicle routes and areas, click here.
To support access to both vehicle-free areas and designated ORV routes,
Alternative F would involve the construction of new parking areas,
pedestrian access trails, ORV ramps, and improvements and additions to
the interdunal road system.
For a detailed chart of some of the details in Alternative F – such as
permits, pets, and night driving – click
A few of the highlights are:
- All village
will play by the same rules. All village beaches will be open
ORV use from Nov. 1 until March 31. All village beaches will
closed to ORVs from April 1-Oct. 31. Currently Frisco and Hatteras
village beaches are closed year-round, and the other village beaches
are closed to ORVs for a shorter period -- from May 15 until Sept. 15.
required to drive on the beach. Seven-day and annual permits
be available. A short education course will be required. There will be
no limit on permits, and permit fee will be based on cost recovery.
prohibited from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m.
capacity is established – the linear distance of the route divided by
20 feet per vehicle. That about the equivalent of 260 vehicles per mile.
parked only one deep. Stacking of vehicles in more than one
will be prohibited.
be similar to what they are now – except they will not be allowed in
pedestrian access areas seaward of bird pre-nesting areas.
- Beach fires
allowed only in front of the village beaches, Coquina Beach and the
Ocracoke Day Use Area. Beach fires will require a non-fee education
permit and are prohibited from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.
The FEIS is another very, very large document. It’s in two
volumes – one about as long as the DEIS, which was 800-plus pages-- and
one somewhat shorter than that. It’s more than an armful to carry.
a Record of Decision no sooner than 30 days from the date of
publication of the Notice of Availability (NOA) of the FEIS in the
Federal Register by the Environmental Protection Agency
The notice is expected to be published on Friday, Nov. 19.
“The release of the final ORV management plan/EIS is an important step
toward completion of the required ORV regulation at the seashore,”
seashore Superintendent Mike Murray said in a media release.
greatly appreciate the level of public interest and participation in
the planning process.”
Murray said in a meeting with reporters last month that he expected the
Record of Decision to be issued on the FEIS by the end of the year.
Shortly after Jan. 1, he said, the Park Service will publish a proposed
ORV rule that will spell out the nuts and bolts of off-road vehicle use
on the seashore and will begin a 60-day public comment
After those comments are reviewed, a final regulation will be
published, followed by a 30-day waiting period.
According to the terms of a 2008 consent decree, agreed upon by parties
to a lawsuit by environmental groups and signed by a federal judge, the
Park Service must finish the final special regulation by April 1.
Electronic copies of the document are available for public review
online at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/caha.
For a direct link to the FEIS:
For a direct link to the red-lined version of the FEIS (with additions
and deletions from draft plan highlighted in red:
Hard copies or compact disks (CDs) of the FEIS are being mailed to
those who have previously requested them. A limited number of
and hard copies of the FEIS are available at the Seashore headquarters,
1401 National Park Drive, Manteo, NC 27954. You may also
a hard copy or CD by contacting Mike Murray, Superintendent, Cape
Hatteras National Seashore, 1401 National Park Drive, Manteo, NC 27954,