U.S. House of Representatives this afternoon passed the $585 billion
National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 300 to 119 in a
"yay" or "nay" vote that lasted just five minutes.
December 4, 2014
UPDATE: House passes defense bill that
includes changes to seashore ORV Plan
By IRENE NOLAN
the bill and also passed is a public lands package of bills, one of
which includes some significant changes to the Cape Hatteras National
Seashore's Off-Road Vehicle Plan.
The Cape Hatteras legislation
instructs the Secretary of Interior to review and adjust wildlife
protection buffers and to confer with the state of North Carolina on
certain buffers. It also makes other modifications to the final ORV
plan, such as the earlier opening of beaches that are closed at night
during the summer, extending seasonal ORV routes in the fall and
spring, and modifying the size and location of vehicle-free areas.
legislation doesn't go as far as advocates for more reasonable public
access to the seashore would like nor is it what North Carolina's
Congressional delegation originally proposed.
earlier into this Congress and the one before it with the
bipartisan support of Republican U.S. Rep Walter Jones and the state's
two senators, Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Kay Hagan, would
have overturned the final rule and ordered the Park Service to return
to its publically vetted 2007 Interim Protected Species Management Plan.
The House passed the bill twice as part of a larger public lands package, most recently last February.
Senate bill was amended and then favorably reported out of the Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June 2013, also along with
other public lands bills. But the legislation never made it to the
Senate floor for a vote.
The wording of the bill that passed
today is almost identical to the Senate version. While it doesn't
overturn the plan, staff members for Burr and Jones have said that the
only way the Cape Hatteras legislation was going to make it into the
lands package bill was by negotiating the language with committee
members in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats until January.
some of them said that the bill requires more significant change than
some access advocates might think. It will hold the Park Service
more accountable to the public on the issues of access and ORV use.
negotiation went on behind the scenes by Burr and Jones and their
staffs to get the public lands package -- and the Cape Hatteras part of
it -- included in the amendment to the defense bill.
The bill was not finally filed until the last minute on Tuesday night.
David Scarborough, treasurer of the Outer Banks Preservation
Association, said on behalf of the access advocacy group, "CHAPA is
grateful to Sen. Burr and Congressman Jones and the members of their
hard working staffs for their work to pass the Hatteras legislation in
the current Congress. Their perseverance, as demonstrated by
their efforts to include the legislation in the defense bill package,
shows their commitment to the citizens of Dare County and visitors to
the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.
House has passed this legislation numerous times in recent years only
for it to get bogged down in the Senate," he said. Eighteen
months ago, through the efforts of Senator Burr, the bill was rewritten
to gain bipartisan support in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
"While the bill does not do everything we had
originally hoped," Scarborough added, "we are confident it will
establish a strong framework to guide the park service and hold it
accountable in the development and administration of the Cape Hatteras
ORV management plan in a manner that properly balances public access
with resource protection....We are excited that the bill has passed in
the House today, and are hopeful that similar success will come shortly
in the Senate. We look forward to building a strong working
relationship with the new Park Service Superintendent to successfully
accomplish the changes required by the new legislation."
Burr applauded the House passage of the bill in a media release today.
Hatteras legislation will help tourists and sportsmen gain access to
North Carolina’s renowned Outer Banks beaches," he said. "The
legislation will set rules and parameters for the National Park Service
(NPS) to abide by when they consider limiting citizen access to
beaches, including off-road vehicle (ORV) access.
from outside interest groups and federal restrictions on beach access
have crippled local businesses along the Cape Hatteras National
Seashore for years – it has impaired the local community and its
economy,” Burr said. “This House vote is a win for North
Carolinians and tourists from around the country who wish to visit
North Carolina’s scenic treasures."
He called it "a long
journey that required compromise on both sides of the aisle in order to
see it through" and said he feels "confident that my Senate colleagues
will swiftly pass this legislation.”
Jones' work on getting the legislation passed, he voted "no" today on
the bill, based on his strong feelings on issues that affect U.S.
troops and on his opposition in general to the "unconstitutional" war
“I cannot vote for a bill that cuts military benefits
while funding wars that Congress never declared,” said Congressman
Jones. "Congress repeatedly authorizes spending on undeclared
wars that put our troops in danger and then has the audacity to cut the
benefits of those they are unconstitutionally sending overseas to
fight. It’s just not right.”
also opposed a provision in the bill which "directs the U.S. government
to give away 2,300 acres in Arizona to a foreign-controlled corporation
(Resolution Copper) without going through a competitive bidding process
and without the approval of local native American Indian tribes who
consider the land home."
The Senate is expected to take up the defense bill next week, probably later in the week.
is also expected to pass easily in that chamber, despite the objections
of some Republican senators to the inclusion of the public lands
package in a military policy and spending bill.
Here is the exact language for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore that is part of the public lands package:
SEC. 3057. CAPE HATTERAS NATIONAL SEASHORE RECREATIONAL AREA.
(a) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:
FINAL RULE.—The term ‘‘Final Rule’’means the final rule entitled
‘‘Special Regulations, Areas of the National Park System, Cape Hatteras
National Seashore—Off-Road Vehicle Management’’(77 Fed. Reg. 3123
(January 23, 2012)).
(2) NATIONAL SEASHORE.—The term ‘‘National Seashore’’ means the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.
(3) SECRETARY.—The term ‘‘Secretary’’ means the Secretary of the Interior.
(4) STATE.—The term ‘‘State’’ means the State of North Carolina.
(b) REVIEW AND ADJUSTMENT OF WILDLIFE PROTECTION BUFFERS.—
IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this
Act, the Secretary shall review and modify wildlife buffers in the
National Seashore in accordance with this subsection and any other
(2) BUFFER MODIFICATIONS.—In modifying wildlife
buffers under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall, using adaptive
(A) ensure that the buffers are of the
shortest duration and cover the smallest area necessary to protect a
species, as determined in accordance with peer-reviewed scientific
(B) designate pedestrian and vehicle corridors around
areas of the National Seashore closed because of wildlife buffers, to
allow access to areas that are open.
(3) COORDINATION WITH
STATE.—The Secretary, after coordinating with the State, shall
determine appropriate buffer protections for species that are not
listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et
seq.), but that are identified for protection under State law.
MODIFICATIONS TO FINAL RULE.—The Secretary shall undertake a public
process to consider, consistent with management requirements at the
National Seashore, the following changes to the Final Rule:
Opening beaches at the National Seashore that are closed to night
driving restrictions, by opening beach segments each morning on a
rolling basis as daily management reviews are completed.
Extending seasonal off-road vehicle routes for additional periods in
the Fall and Spring if offroad vehicle use would not create resource
management problems at the National Seashore.
(3) Modifying the size and location of vehicle free areas.
CONSTRUCTION OF NEW VEHICLE ACCESS POINTS.—The Secretary shall
construct new vehicle access points and roads at the National Seashore—
(1) as expeditiously as practicable; and
(2) in accordance with applicable management plans for the National Seashore.
REPORT.—The Secretary shall report to Congress within 1 year after the
date of enactment of this Act on measures taken to implement this
Click here to read the entire 1,648 pages of the National Defense Authorization Act.