Beach Access and Park Issues
February 1, 2011



Park Service releases its 2010 annual reports on protected species

 By IRENE NOLAN





The Park Service has released the Cape Hatteras National Seashore 2010 annual reports for protected species and a report on the status of its off-road vehicle management.

The following 2010 reports have been posted on the park planning (PEPC) website under the Interim Protected Species Management Strategy project:

Piping plover annual report
Sea turtle annual report
Seabeach amaranth annual report
Colonial waterbird summary
American oystercatcher summary
Status of off-road vehicle management plan and negotiated rulemaking with appendices
Cape Hatteras National Seashore annual law enforcement report

Some of the highlights of this year’s report:

2010 was a good year for piping plovers on the seashore. Twelve breeding pairs were identified, the most since 1996 when 14 were observed. Nests were documented at Cape Point, South Beach, North Ocracoke Spit, and South Point on Ocracoke.  Fifteen chicks fledged last year from six broods for a fledge rate of 1.25 chicks per breeding pair.  That is the highest number of fledged chicks since record keeping began at the seashore.

2010 was also a good year for sea turtles.  A record number of sea turtles nests – 153 – were documented at the seashore this year.  It was also a good year for sea turtle nesting in other areas of North Carolina and along the rest of the southeast coast, where records were set in other areas.

Once again, the annual surveys turned up no seabeach amaranth plants on the seashore. None have been found here since 2005.

Colonial waterbirds nesting appeared to be down in 2010, compared to 2009, even though resource protections were similar both years. The Park Service says that one explanation for the high nest numbers in 2009 is that early season storms forced the birds to abandon their first nesting attempts on the offshore islands and nest in larger numbers on the seashore. There were no early season storms in 2010 and the nesting numbers on the seashore declined.

American oystercatchers also had a good year on the seashore.  Fifteen pairs of oystercatchers were successful in fledging 30 chicks.  The fledge rate of 1.3 per pair is the highest since monitoring began at the seashore.

In its status report on off-road vehicle rulemaking, the Park Service confirmed what officials told Judge Terrence Boyle in a status conference last year – that the final rule will not be ready by April 1, as required by the consent decree. Now, the Park Service says the final rule will be completed this summer and will be implemented in the fall.

The annual law enforcement report says that last year, park rangers issued 558 citations, 502 written warnings, and 3,774 verbal warnings.  The Park Service says there was increased emphasis in 2010 on documenting verbal warnings.  Citations and written warnings were 1,060, compared to 458 in 2008 and 1,095 in 2009.

You can read the entire reports at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=358&projectID=13331&documentID=38808

Federal Judge Terrence Boyle, who is overseeing the consent decree that settled a lawsuit against the Park Service, is expected to schedule another status conference on the reports and the ORV plan later this winter.




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