July 8, 2014

Burr offers amendment to Sportsmen's
Act to ensure beach access

By IRENE NOLAN

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, today offered an amendment to S 2363, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014, that would help ensure public and ORV access to North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 

The Burr amendment is identical to S 486, which passed unanimously through the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on June 18, 2013.

The amendment would modify the National Park Service's ORV plan and final rule for the seashore, which became effective in February 2012. It would set rules and parameters for the Park Service to follow when it considers limiting public access to beaches, including off-road vehicle access.

Under the amendment, the Park Service must review and modify wildlife buffers to ensure that are of the shortest duration, cover the smallest area necessary to protect resources, and designate pedestrian and vehicle corridors around resource closures. 

It also instructs NPS to undertake a public process to consider making slight changes to night driving restrictions, extending seasonal ORV routes in the spring and fall, and modifying the size and location of vehicle-free areas.

Finally, it orders the NPS to construct new vehicle access points as expeditiously as possible.
 
“Federal restrictions on beach access have hurt North Carolina and local businesses along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore for years – it has done damage to our local communities and our local economy,” Burr said in a news release.  “We must ensure that North Carolinians and tourists from around the country have access to North Carolina’s scenic treasures, and the Sportsmen’s bill offers the perfect opportunity to address this pressing issue once and for all.

"Over a year ago, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources reached a compromise that was a critical step forward in the effort to allow people to have access to our beaches while at the same time addressing any potential environmental concerns.  It is my hope that we can take up this amendment and allow the Senate a chance to finally vote on it.”
 
The House version of S 486, introduced by Congressman Walter Jones, R-N.C., was included in HR 2954, the Public Access and Lands Improvement Act.  That bill was passed by the House of Representatives in a bipartisan vote earlier this year.
 
Sportsmen's groups, including the American Sportfishing Association and Congressional Sportsmen Foundation, are supporters of S 486.

The Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act was introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., in May. It has 45 Co-Sponsors. 

As of yesterday, there were 13 proposed amendments to the legislation.

"If you have a chance call and thank Senator Hagan (202-224-6342) for her leadership on S 2363," Warren Judge, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners said in an e-mail today. 

"We need you to call Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid, 202-224-2158, and show your support for the amendment and ask the Majority Leader to allow the amendment to move forward.   Please pass this on to all you have contact with.  Remember this is a bipartisan Sportsmen's Act, so supporters are a group much greater than us."

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For information on The Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014 and to read the text of the bill, go to http://www.senate.gov/ http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d113:s.02363:

To read a IFP story on S 486 from June 18, 2013 and the text of the bill as amended by the Senate Committee, go to http://islandfreepress.org/2013Archives/06.18.2013-SenateCommitteePassesSubstituteVersionOfBillToOverturnORVPlan.html
 

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