Park Service is preparing to implement ORV rule
By IRENE NOLAN
While the public is commenting on the National
Service’s proposal rule for off-road vehicles on the Cape
Hatteras National seashore, park officials are already working on the
details of implementing a final plan.
The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July
6. Sixty days of public comment ends on Sept. 6.
park must analyze and respond to the comments before a final rule can
The number of responses will determine how long the analysis of the
public comment will last, but it could be several weeks or months.
The final rule will be effective 30 days after it is published in The
According to the terms of a consent decree that ended a lawsuit by
environmental groups over ORV operation on the seashore, the rule is to
be effective by Nov. 15.
And that apparently is what the Park Service is planning for.
One unanswered question is how much permits to operate an ORV in the
seashore will cost.
Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray says the park is working now on
determining fees for annual and seven-day permits.
Murray says the park is working through the process that was outlined
in the Final Environment Impact Statement – on pages C-60 and C-61 of
Appendix C in Volume II of that document.
As outlined, the ORV permits will be operated as a cost recovery
The actual price “will be derived by determining all the additional
operational costs (staffing, supplies, equipment and other
non-personnel costs), above and beyond” the park’s base funding that
will be required to administer and manage the permit program.
That number will be divided by the estimated number of permits by type,
annual or seven-day, that will be sold to determine the cost of the
permit by type.
These above and beyond the base funding will include:
Staffing to issue permits and enforce permit requirements
Additional staffing needed to implement new management activities
related to law enforcement, resource management, maintenance, and
ORV informational materials, signs, and supplies
And other programs support costs necessary to administer and implement
the plan and rule.
“The initial price will inherently involve some subjective analysis
because of the uncertainties about the total number of permits and the
number of permits by type that might be purchased,” according to the
However, the Park Service, based on the cost of permits at other
locations, said it is looking at annual permits in the $90 to $150
price range. Seven-day permits are estimated at 33 to 50
of the annual permits.
The FEIS also notes that “the permit is not intended to guarantee
access at all times to all areas designated as ORV routes.”
That fact alone could drive down the number of visitors who might seek
seven-day permits and theoretically drive up the cost.
The FEIS and the proposed rule also specify that applicants must apply
in person for permits and complete a “short” education program – at no
That could cause a logjam when visitors arrive on weekends for their
weekly rentals and all try to get permits on a Saturday or Sunday.
The plan and proposed rule also called for a number of infrastructure
improvements, including new ramps, parking areas for access to
pedestrian-only stretches of beach, and interdunal roads.
Murray says that the park has not yet determined the cost of the
“More detailed planning needs to be done to accurately determine
construction costs,” he said in an e-mail and phone interview earlier
“Construction of new infrastructure will require an environmental
assessment (EA),” he said, “to further flesh out details of size,
configuration, and construction materials for proposed improvements
(which will determine the construction costs), and to evaluate the
The park, he said, expects to begin work on the EA this fall.
When the final ORV regulation goes into effect 30 days after its
publication, Murray said that the designed routes and other ORV
management elements in the rule, such as permits and night driving,
will become effective – even though infrastructure improvements cannot
be made until after an environmental assessment is completed.
“Once the EA is completed,” he said, “construction can occur and will
likely be phased over several years, with first priority given to
installing the new ramps and parking areas that are necessary to
support access to the designated routes and vehicle free areas (i.e.,
that would provide the primary access point to an area), and second
priority given to those ramps and parking areas that would enhance
access to those areas (e.g., that would provide a second access point
to an area).”
He said that the two phases would be completed over a “several year
period” and would use the park’s appropriated funding.
to read the regulation.
to read the Record of Decision on the selected alternative which was
published last December.
public comment period will be open from today until Sept. 6.
Comments must be received on or before midnight (Eastern Daylight
Time) on Tuesday, Sept. 6. The NPS says that it does not
anticipate extending the public comment period beyond Sept. 6 because
of the court deadline for completing the final rule.
submit comments on the Proposed Rule, identified by the Regulation
Identifier Number: (RIN) 1024-AD85, by any of the following
instructions for submitting comments
or hand deliver
to: Superintendent, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, 1401
National Park Drive, Manteo, North Carolina 27954.
submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov
or submitted by mail must be entered or postmarked before midnight
(Eastern Daylight Time) Sept. 6. Comments submitted by hand
delivery must be received by the close of business hours (5 p.m.
Eastern Daylight Time) September 6, 2011. Comments will not
accepted by fax, e-mail, or in any way other than those specified
above, and bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic)
submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.
submissions received must include the agency name and RIN for this
rulemaking: 1024-AD85. All comments received through the
Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov
will be available without charge. Before including your
address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying
information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire
comment including your personal identifying information may be made
publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your
comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public
review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
view comments received through the Federal eRulemaking portal, go to http://www.regulations.gov
and enter “1024-AD85" in the “Keyword or ID” search box.