March 14, 2013

Park Service establishes prenesting
areas for shorebird breeding season

Between Jan. 28 and Feb. 8, National Park Service NPS Resources Management staff conducted an annual assessment of breeding habitat for piping plovers, Wilson’s plovers, American oystercatchers, and colonial waterbirds in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 

During this assessment, preferred habit was located and prenesting areas for piping plovers, Wilson’s plovers and American oystercathers, weather and shoreline conditions permitting, will be installed by March 15. Prenesting areas for colonial waterbird sites will be installed by April 15. 

The 2013 breeding habitat assessment and prenesting maps are posted on the NPS PEPC website under the Document List for the ORV Management Plan/EIS and Rulemaking project at:

The prenesting closure areas are based on the recent breeding history of the respective protected species at the seashore and the actual habitat conditions observed during the annual assessment. 

At most prenesting areas, pedestrian access is allowed along the shoreline below the ocean high-tide line until such time that shorebird breeding activity is observed, then standard species-specific buffers will be implemented.  Dogs are generally prohibited in the pedestrian shoreline access corridor below the high-tide line adjacent to the prenesting closures and within any posted resource closure, but properly leashed dogs are otherwise allowed in open ORV routes and pedestrian areas.

The site-specific restrictions are posted at each location with on-site signage and is the most accurate and up-to-date indication of access status.  

In addition, on March 15 the Bodie Island Spit seasonal ORV route from 0.2 mile south of Ramp 4 to the inlet will be changed to a seasonal Vehicle Free Area in accordance with the designated ORV routes identified in the special regulation.  The area is currently open to pedestrians, and the seasonal ORV route will reopen to vehicle use on Sept. 15.  The designated year-round ORV route from 0.5 of a mile south of Coquina Beach to 0.2 of a mile south of Ramp 4 remains open to vehicles with access via Ramp 4.

ORV permits are available at Coquina Beach, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center in Buxton, and the Ocracoke Visitor Center.  The permit offices are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., year-round, seven days a week, except Christmas Day, with expanded hours on weekends and holidays during the summer season.  The cost of an annual permit (valid for the calendar year) is $120.  A seven-day ORV permit (valid from the date issued) costs $50. 

The seashore’s interactive Google Earth map has been updated to reflect these changes.  The map is available on-line at:  During the summer season, this map is subject to frequent changes and on-site signage provides current conditions.

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