Beach Access and Park Issues
April 25, 2012

Subcommittee hearing on Jones bill is Friday, April 27

By IRENE NOLAN


A congressional hearing on a bill introduced in February by U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., is scheduled for Friday, April 27, at 9 a.m. and should be available live on a House website.

Jones introduced the bill – H.R. 4094 – on Feb. 28 to restore reasonable motorized and pedestrian access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 

The hearing will be before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. 

A live broadcast of the hearing should be available to the public through the House Natural Resources Committee website.  Further information on next week’s hearing can be found here.  

“I am very pleased that the National Parks Subcommittee has agreed to take up this bill,” said Congressman Jones.  “This is an urgent situation.  The access restrictions mandated by the National Park Service’s final rule are significantly impacting the Hatteras Island economy and are totally unnecessary to protect wildlife.  This is about jobs, it’s about taxpayers’ right to access the recreational areas they own, and it’s about restoring balance and common sense to Park Service management.” 

H.R. 4094 would overturn a final rule implemented by the National Park Service in mid-February, as well as the 2008 U.S. District court approved consent decree.  Jones’ bill claims that the rule and the consent decree excessively restrict human access to the recreational area.  The bill would reinstitute the Park Service’s 2007 Interim Management Strategy to govern visitor access and species protection in the seashore.  The Interim Strategy was backed up by a 113-page Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which found that it would not jeopardize the species of concern, namely piping plover and sea turtles. 

The subcommittee has not yet publicly announced the names of witness who will give testimony, but that could be available on the committee’s website tomorrow.

We know that Jones will testify.  The Park Service said in a media release that its witness will be Bert Frost, associate director for Natural Resources Stewardship and Science. Also, Warren Judge, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, and John Couch, president of the Outer Banks Preservation Association are expected to testify.

In addition to the hearing on the Jones bill, the subcommittee will have an oversight hearing on “Access Denied: Turning Away Visitors to National Parks.”

UPDATE: April 26, 2012

HOUSE LEGISLATIVE HEARING ON:

  • H. R. 4094 (W. Jones), To authorize pedestrian and motorized vehicular access in Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, and for other purposes. "Preserving Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Act"

AND OVERSIGHT HEARING ON:

  • "Access Denied: Turning Away Visitors to National Parks"

WITNESSES AND TESTIMONY:

Panel I

Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-NC (H.R. 4094)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL (Oversight hearing)

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-FL (Oversight hearing)

Panel II

Testifying on HR 4094 and Oversight Hearing

Herbert C. Frost
Associate Director, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

H.R. 4094

Warren Judge
Dare County Board of Commissioners
Dare County Government, NC

John Couch
President
Outer Banks Preservation Association, NC

Oversight Hearing

Kenneth W. Wright
Vice Chairman
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

KC Crook
Florida Resident

John J. Curlett
Florida Resident

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