man-made and natural factors contributed to Cape Point staying open all
summer long to ORVs for the first time in roughly a decade.
Cape Point was technically closed for almost two hours in July when an
unexploded ordnance washed ashore on the Shelly Island sandbar, the
beach otherwise remained open for ORVs, thanks to nesting factors and
established ORV corridors.
was because of a combination of things,” said David Hallac, Cape
Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent. “The first thing is that we
have more flexible wildlife protection buffers. There’s no question
that flexible buffers contributed to it being open.”
changes to the ORV management plan, which stemmed from the
implementation of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015
and which were propelled by years of efforts by the OBPA, NCBBA
and the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club, certainly played a role in
continual access for beach-goers.
2015, before the changes were implemented, Cape Point closed to ORV
access on April 6 and reopened on August 30, for a total of 147 days.
number was almost cut in half last year, when Cape Point was closed to
ORV access from May 11 until July 27, for a total of 77 days.
Not counting the brief closure due to the unexpected Shelly Island ordnance, the total number of closed days in 2017 was zero.
we hadn’t had the driving corridor this summer, Cape Point would have
been closed,” said Hallac. “In fact, there would have been roughly a
two month period where you wouldn’t have been able to access Cape
pedestrians were unable to walk to the Point via the ORV corridor, most
folks easily caught a brief ride. “We’re confident that everyone who
wanted to get down there found a way,” said Hallac.
second reason Cape Point was open was due to the season’s nesting
patterns. “Really, it’s because of bad luck for some of the wildlife
that was out there,” said Hallac. “In some cases, there were nests that
got washed away early in the summer. Predators like foxes and coyotes
also ate bird eggs that were out there.”
nests that were successful were either far enough away to not affect
the Point, or the flexibility of the National Park Service to establish
buffers ensured that access remained open.
you combine flexible buffers with the nesting [issues], it led to the
Point being open all year,” said Hallac. “Congress asked us to make the
buffers the smallest size possible that would still allow us to protect
the species. And we really tried to go down to the minimum size.”
2017 may be a bit of anomaly, but it follows a two-year trend that indicates a more accessible Cape Point in the years to come.
we are seeing is a likelihood that there will generally be more access
to Cape Point in the future,” said Hallac. “It definitely was unusual
in terms of all of the right factors coming together when it came to
access, but what we try to look at is [access] across longer terms –
not just a year’s time.”
you look at last year, it was closed for half the amount of time that
it was closed the year before… It is likely that Cape Point will
continue to be open in the summertime for longer than it was before we
changed the wildlife protection buffers [in 2015.]”
Closing and reopening dates for Cape Point for the last five years:
- 2017 - Cape Point closed to ORV access on July 14 due to Unidentified Military Device (2 hours).
- 2016 - Cape Point closed to ORV access on May 11 and reopened on July 27 (77 days).
- 2015 - Cape Point closed to ORV access on April 6 and reopened on August 30 (147 days).
- 2014 - Cape Point closed to ORV access on April 2 and reopened on August 26 (147 days).
- 2013 - Cape Point closed to ORV access on April 9 and reopened on August 23 (136 days).