Seashore uses new ORV corridor rule for first time at Cape Point
By IRENE NOLAN
Hatteras National Seashore officials this morning established an
off-road vehicle corridor near Cape Point to allow drivers to bypass a
pair of American oystercatchers that are engaged in pre-nesting
is the first time that the seashore has used the new buffer regulations
that were enacted last summer as a part of changes in the ORV plan
required by legislation passed by Congress in December 2014.
the old buffer rules, the area would have been closed to ORVs and
pedestrians when the birds began exhibiting their "courting" behavior
-- effectively shutting down access to Cape Point.
The new rules allow the park to establish a corridor to allow ORVs to pass by the birds during breeding and nesting.
to Hatteras Island District Ranger Joe Darling, the corridor is about
1/4 mile long and is open to ORVs only. It is closed to
because the birds recognize humans as predators, said Randy Swilling,
the seashore's natural resources program manager, but are less bothered
by passing vehicles.
most of the seashore's oystercatchers are banded, Swilling said
resource managers know the pair is the same couple that has closed down
Cape Point in the past.
new rules allow the corridor to remain in place if the birds decide to
build a nest in the area. However, when the chicks hatch --
normally after about 30 days -- a 150-meter buffer would effectively
close access to Cape Point until the chicks fledge.
if no other nesting shorebirds get in the mix at Cape Point, access to
Cape Point could remain open this year well into May.
recent years, Cape Point has been closed to vehicles -- and sometimes
pedestrians -- in early April. Last year, access to the Point was
closed on April 7.
new buffer rules are intended to allow more public access to the
seashore's beaches during the bird and turtle nesting season, while
still protecting the wildlife.
said seashore rangers will be in the area, explaining the buffer rules
to visitors and sharing with them how the park works to protect
wildlife. The rangers will occasionally bring spotting scopes, so
the visitors can get a better look at the birds.
"We want to have a presence, to get the word out," Swilling said.
said that pedestrians were getting creative about the fact they aren't
allowed to use the corridor. He said he talked to a couple of
people who were hiking to the Point and were stopped at the
corridor. Undeterred, they hitched a ride in a vehicle for the
1/4 mile and then walked the rest of the way.