Initial response to
Environmental Impact Statement is muted
By IRENE NOLAN
to the National Park Service’s Final Environmental Impact Statement on
ORV regulation on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore has been muted so
when the document involved runs more than 1,000 pages and comes in two
volumes. The main document runs more than 700 pages with 427 pages of
Most people, including advocacy groups on both sides of the issue of
resource protection versus access to the seashores beaches, are trying
to mine what exactly is in the document that will guide the National
Park Service off-road vehicle regulation for decades.
groups – National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife -- that filed
a lawsuit in October, 2007, against the Park Service over what they see
as inadequate resource protection, along with the Southern
Environmental Law Center that represented the groups, said in a media
release today that they are evaluating.
Preservation Association and other groups that advocate for more
“reasonable” access are evaluating.
County, which as
a defendant-intervenor on the side of the National Park Service in the
lawsuit, is also evaluating.
and forums have even been fairly quiet, considering the importance of
“I knew all
wouldn't be good, but thought it would be at least a little better than
this,” one person posted on the Red Drum Tackle Shop’s online forum.
fat lady has sung,” said another in a post. “Thanks, NPS, for
listening. Your approval rating is ZERO!”
The Island Free Press has received a few responses already to an
article about the FEIS, which was posted yesterday afternoon.
“Let's not mince words,” wrote one reader from Maryland. “Alternative F
violates the charter that created CHNRA. Mike Murray should be put in
jail and the so called ‘National Park Service’ should be disbanded for
this conversion of public parkland into a special interest refuge. How
can this be allowed to happen in a democratic society?”
The release from the environmental groups noted they “will evaluate the
plan to ensure it balances the interests of all seashore users and
fulfills the park service’s responsibility to preserve the seashore’s
natural resources, including rare sea turtles, birds, and their young,
for present and future generations.”
also made it clear that they were not totally happy either in their
release, which was headlined, “Preferred alternative plan falls short.”
alternative announced yesterday falls short of the U.S. Department of
Interior’s own scientists’ recommendations regarding the measures
needed to protect wildlife within the national park,” the release said.
Service’s final rules must provide adequate vehicle-free space and
protections for both pedestrians and wildlife, while still allowing
responsible beach driving in some areas,” said Julie Youngman, senior
attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center. “We look forward to
working with the Park Service to build on the success of this
that Alternative F allows ORV use on the “majority of the seashore” –
28 of 67 miles – and that “only” 26 miles are designated as year-round
vehicle-free areas “for pedestrians, families, and wildlife.” The
remaining 13 miles of seashore are seasonally open to ORVs.
groups again point to record numbers for nesting sea turtles and
fledged piping plover chicks on the seashore this year, along with
facts and figures showing the Dare County occupancy and sales taxes
were up this summer, including a record-setting July.
record numbers of visitors and wildlife this year, it is entirely
possible for Cape Hatteras to be responsibly shared and enjoyed,” said
Jason Rylander, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife. “We hope
Park Service’s final plan will strike an appropriate balance that meets
the needs of the seashore’s many users.”
demonstrate that under science-based wildlife management, nesting birds
and turtles can rebound, tourism can thrive, and wildlife and people
can share the beach at Cape Hatteras,” said Walker Golder, acting
executive director of Audubon North Carolina. “The Park Service’s plan
currently falls short of providing adequate science-based, year-round
protections for the seashore’s natural resources.”
president of the OBPA, said about the FEIS that “no one has a clear
idea of the big picture yet”
regular OBPA board meeting, the group began preparing to tackle the
document and provide its members an update on what they can expect
under the Park Service’s preferred alternative.
said, the National Park service has responded only too well to its
mandate of providing resource protection but has failed miserably into
its mission to provide for public recreation.
chosen to ignore the recreation part of their mission,” Couch said.
Service done recently, he asked, to further its mission of providing
recreation, such as fishing or swimming or surfing?
Coast Surfing Championships at the Lighthouse,” he said. “(The Park
Service) has almost single-handedly run them out of there.”
vice-chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, was more
cynical in his response to his initial look at the FEIS.
Carter could have written it in ’05 and saved us a lot of time and
To read the environmental groups’ entire media release, go to http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/press_releases_folder/2010/11_16_2010_groups_seek_responsible_orv_management_at_cape_hatteras.php
direct link to
For a direct link to the red-lined version of the FEIS (with additions
and deletions from draft plan highlighted in red):