National Park Service today released some details on how Cape Hatteras
National Seashore officials plan to address legislation passed by
Congress in December that makes some changes in the seashore's Off-Road
February 4, 2015
NPS releases some details of plan
to comply with new legislation
By IRENE NOLAN
The Cape Hatteras legislation, passed as part
of the National Defense Authorization Bill, instructs the Secretary of
Interior to review and adjust wildlife protection buffers, keep them in
place the shortest possible duration, designate vehicle and pedestrian
corridors around resource closures, and confer with the state of North
Carolina on certain buffers and protections.
It also makes
other modifications to the final ORV plan, such as conducting a public
process to consider such changes 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
The seashore's new superintendent, Dave
Hallac, who took over the job just a little more than a month ago, said
in an interview last month, that park officials "are actively working
on all parts of the legislation, we're taking it very seriously, and
I'm going to be looking for ways to involve the public as we move
Hallac has been working closely and meeting with Park
Service officials in the regional office in Atlanta and in Washington,
D.C. He made another trip to both cities just a few weeks ago.
said again today in a news release that seashore staff began the
process in early January of reviewing and complying with the
The law provides 180 days for the Secretary of the
Interior, in coordination with the State of North Carolina and in
accordance with applicable laws, to review and modify wildlife buffers
and designate pedestrian and vehicle corridors around buffers to allow
access to areas that are open in the seashore.
The Secretary of the Interior must report back to Congress within one year after the date of enactment of the Act.
schedule is ambitious but we will do our best to utilize input from the
public, our experienced staff, and the assistance from other State and
Federal agencies, to implement the legislation,” Hallac said in the
He said that The Outer Banks Group plans to use a four-step approach:
Review the best available science on wildlife buffers, in coordination
and consultation with state and federal agencies, to consider
modifications to buffers currently used by the seashore and possible
new ORV corridors.
"We anticipate making any proposed modifications available for public input and review later this spring, he said.
Launch a series of public discussion meetings in late May or early June
to gather and consider input on morning openings, extending seasonal
ORV routes, and modifying vehicle-free areas and to develop a plan to
implement appropriate changes.
3) Review the current beach
access construction projects schedule for possible reprioritization
towards those projects that provide vehicle access points in critical
4) Report back to Congress by December 19, 2015.
seashore's staff will be supplemented, he said, by NPS employees from
the Southeast Regional Office and in consultation with other federal
and state agencies who share responsibilities and management of
In addition, the seashore will post updates to the park webpage at: http://www.nps.gov/caha/parkmgmt/2015ndaact.htm
with accomplishments to date and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
about the process. Updates via press releases will be issued
every two weeks or as significant progress is made.
One question on the website asks if any changes will be made to the way ORVs are managed before this summer.
is possible that proposed changes to wildlife buffers or the proposed
establishment of corridors around closed areas may be put into place
during the summer of 2015," park officials say in response. "The
efforts to consider modifying the Final Rule will take more time and
potential changes are not expected to be implemented during the summer
of 2015. In this interim period, ORV use will continue to be managed
under the current seashore ORV Management Plan and special regulation."
Senate passes defense bill that includes changes to seashore's ORV plan
House passes defense bill that includes changes to seashore ORV Plan
U.S. House, Senate poised to pass bill that would change seashore's ORV plan
Editor's Blog: ORV legislation is very significant for access advocates