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« Chamber of Commerce i… | Home | Clean up the clutter … »

Infrastructure improvements required under FEIS will need another environmental study

Friday 18 February 2011 at 3:29 pm.

My blog last week on the National Park Service’s economic impacts of its Final Environmental Impact Statement has generated some interesting comments and a good discussion.

I wrote last week that the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce is seeking businesses that participated in an economic survey on impacts.  The businesses contacted by RTI International were kept confidential, and the chamber would really like to know more about them.

You might be interested to know that the chamber has heard from one business that confirmed it participated, and two that think maybe they did, that someone called them a long time ago and asked economic questions.

Maybe more will surface.

The discussion on the blog eventually branched out to include how the Park Service will pay for the new infrastructure that is required under the FEIS – new ramps, parking areas, pedestrian trails, soundside accesses, and interdunal roads.

The question was raised by Dennis Gray, aka Denny in Dayton, who asked:

I think the bigger question now is with the Federal budget cuts, what happens if the proposed alternative’s facility/roads/ramps construction can’t be funded? The proposed budget now has an $81 million cut in NPS construction (yet includes an additional $360 million for land acquisition, what does that tell you about the NPS direction?) Will they propose something they can’t execute?

Ted Hamilton, aka Salvo Jimmy, wrote:

You’ve raised a good question.

Can NPS legally put the restrictions of Alt F in place with no plan to provide in a timely manner the funded improvements required by Alt F such as additional ramps, interdunal roads, parking, etc.?

And Mike Berry responded with this:

The new ORV Management Plan (CFR Regulation) calls for new construction—parking, ramps, etc. Without that new costly construction the NPS is in violation of its enforceable regulation. Funding for such projects in NPS nation-wide looks pretty bleak these days. This funding issue is going to get interesting and Judge Boyle and SELC just might be in the national seashore management business for a while to come—now there’s a happy thought. Plenty of work for lawyers at taxpayer expense.

Actually, the issue of how these improvements – and other requirements called for in the FEIS – will be funded is still very murky, and does raise many interesting questions, not all of which the Park Service can answer – or wants to answer – at this point.

At a meeting with reporters in mid-December, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray talked in general terms about the new infrastructure and how it would be funded.

“We have designed the plan so that we don’t need additional base funding,” Murray said. “We got a good increase (in base funding) after the consent decree.”

Murray said the park was now developing information about infrastructure improvement costs.

“The director (of the National Park Service) and the assistant director are aware that we need one-time start-up costs…It seems that we have support from Washington and Atlanta for the funds.”

Murray acknowledged the problem with “tight budgets,” but added that the Park Service has tried to design a “realistic” infrastructure improvement plan and that some of it can be accomplished at a low cost.

Deputy Seashore Superintendent Darrell Echols followed up that December conversation with an e-mail yesterday.

“We continue to operate under a Continuing Resolution until March 4, and as a result, we do not have details related to either the FY11 or FY12 budgets,” Echols said.  “Both are being reviewed and discussed by Congress and the President, but until they determine final budgets, we are unable to provide any specifics.  We simply do not know.

“As for the infrastructure improvements identified in the FEIS, the NPS continues to pursue various funding opportunities to implement these,” Echols continued. “We continue to anticipate that a combination of base funding and primarily ORV permit funds will be used to implement the improvements…”

Now comes the really interesting part.

Echols also wrote that “additional environmental compliance in the form of an EA (Environmental Assessment) is needed before these improvements can be made.”

And he said the actual improvement costs will be determined during the EA development.

So, there must be yet another environmental study before the park can make the infrastructure improvements that are required by the FEIS – or even know how much they will cost.

At the December meeting, Murray said park officials are hoping that one Environmental Assessment can be done to cover all of the improvements.

Also at the meeting, Cyndy Holda, the park’s public affairs specialist, added that the requirement for another environmental study was an irony not lost on park officials.

If this entire process had been completed when it was first required in the 1970s, another Environmental Assessment would not have been required.

It’s worth noting that an off-road vehicle plan was written and sent to Washington in 1978.  But it was never finalized and published in the Federal Register.

Echols also answered a question about ORV permits and fees in his e-mail.

“Final ORV permit costs have also not been determined due to the budget uncertainty,” he said.  “Whenever we have a final budget and obtain a clearer picture of the future, we can finalize the permit costs.”

Murray is still saying publically that a proposed ORV regulation will be made public this winter, that there will be 60 days of public comment, that the Park Service will take several months to assemble and respond to public comments, that a final rule will be issued late this summer, and that the rule, including permits, could be implemented as soon as fall.

Personally, I agree with Mike Berry when he says that federal Judge Terrence Boyle and the Southern Environment Law Center will be managing the seashore for a while to come.

There seems to no end to this rulemaking nightmare.


Salvo Jimmy

I have little doubt that someones “species of concern” will be smack dab in the middle of the Alt F infrastructure improvement areas.

Salvo Jimmy (Email ) - 18-02-’11 16:14

Oh great, another comment period. This means we can all sit down and write long, thought out, intelligent letters that will wind up in their septic system.

Hankavon (Email ) - 18-02-’11 16:51

For years I knew no ORV group could prevent a permit and fee, it’s the norm in all other parks where ORV use is allowed.

I am just curious as to why the Audobon and Defenders of Wildlife do not make some nice contributions, since they got what they want and claim so many of thier supporters use the Seashore.

Anon - 18-02-’11 17:02

“Whenever we have a final budget and obtain a clearer picture of the future, we can finalize the permit costs.”

That, friends, is Fedspeak for “When we see what the budget shortfalls are, we’ll set the ORV fee’s to make up the difference”

The ORV’s will be the only source of funding for “PARK USAGE FEE’S” you can take that to the bank…

Jack - 18-02-’11 20:06
Rob Alderman

If the NPS was to ban all ORV’s from the beach, then they would still have to make new lots and walkovers available to the public.

So, why is it that the ORV users are going to be the only ones paying for this crap? Considering that there are new lots and walkovers included in ALT F.

They should put in parking meters or better yet—Stick a teenager collecting $5 a whack in June, July and August at all lots..

The ORV users should NOT be the only ones paying for this. I would think that some how this discimination. One user pays and the other user does not.

It’s not the ORV users fault that neither the NPS, Dept of the Interior or the Federal Goverment knows how to spend their money.

Not to mention the money wasted by the NPS to cover the Lawyer fees for the Enviros.

Those Sum Bit—es should donate that money back to the NPS to help with this..Ooops..Nevermind..They don’t think Alt F is strict enough, so they will not help support it.

Rob Alderman - 19-02-’11 09:45
Matt Stubbs (Samsdad)

Since the park will not be in compliance with the final rule can we ask for the consent decree until it becomes fully compliant? I really never saw me saying that I wanted this horrible decree to stay, but it is better than the future!

Matt Stubbs (Samsdad) (Email ) - 19-02-’11 09:53
Paradise Lost

I will always be glad that I was able to enjoy the beauty and freedom of the Outer Banks for the past 50 years. But now; government, politics, special interests, and power-struggles have essentially destroyed the enjoyment of this amazing place for almost everyone. I hate to even think it, but I would rather see the Banks slowly taken back by the ocean and die the noble death than witness what I see happening to her now. There are many to blame. All should be very ashamed.

Paradise Lost - 19-02-’11 13:27
Hawk Hawkins

The NPS will never be in compliance…why start now???Why not leave the “infrastructure” to nature?Maintain the ramps,let us go where Humans have a right to go and God will sweep the beach clean with storms-as always.If funding is not available nothing will change…except there will be more beach closures.

Hawk Hawkins (Email ) - 19-02-’11 16:56

The claimed lack of funding is the reason for not building the long replacement to Bonner Bridge, the major infrastructure on the Seashore. Is this an adequate reason? Just curious.

anon - 20-02-’11 09:52
Denny in Dayton

The bridge is funded, or at least is funded as of projected costs a couple of years ago. Add inflation, change orders and delays and the cost could exceed the funding.

Denny in Dayton (Email ) - 20-02-’11 13:07

I Agree with Denny except the word “could” at the end needs to be changed to WILL exceed the funding. I guess in a couple of year we will be riding by both an unfinished lighthouse and bridge on our way to the beach with no access. Maybe we nee to invest in longer casting beach rods so we may fish at the point from Rt 12.

Make no mistake the NPS has no intention on applying any of the points of ALT F we consider beneficial or helpful. Their intention will be as always wait until the last minute and then start a study that will further delay to the next last minute and so on.

samsdad1 (Email ) - 21-02-’11 07:34
Denny in Dayton

When Murray says the plan will be available "This winter" does he mean the one ending on March 21 2011 or the one beginning Dec 21 2011? I swear I’ve heard this promise before.

Just as suspected, take the costs of the improvements (and Lord knows what else) whether it has to do with ORV’s or not, subtract the pennies from Washington, divide by the expected number of permits and there’s your permit fee. Incredible. You don’t suppose we’ll be paying the fees before (if ever) the facilities are built do you?

When Murray was in Cape Cod they charged people around $200 for overnight permits to camp on the beach in their campers, then denied them access to the beach making them "camp" in a asphalt parking lot about a half mile from the beach with little beach access. As I recall there were no refunds, He’s got experience in this.

Denny in Dayton (Email ) - 21-02-’11 10:06

As far as ORV fees all I will say is. Pennies…lots of pennies folks, it’s US currency they have to take it.

Alexy (Email ) - 21-02-’11 12:00
Fuming mad

I will not contribute one cent to any NPS function. I will no longer participate in beach cleanups. I will donate the equivalent of the beach access fee and more to OBPA or CHAPA. NPS is a bad neighbor and I am fed up.

Fuming mad (Email ) - 23-02-’11 13:50

Made up my mind along time ago, I will not be buying a permit.. There are others who feel the same…Good luck funding everything off ORV permits..I think they are counting their chickens before they hatch….I will not pay for less access..


JAM (Email ) - 25-02-’11 12:06

I think it’s funny that so many ORV users get mad at the NPS, when they should be getting mad at the locals on the Outer Banks. I’ve attended most of the protests and the best turn out was the Please Help Us on the Point.

Most of those, like every other protest or rally was mainly comprised by out of towners. The locals might contribute a few bucks to the fight, but most would not take one day from work to fight for their access, but will cry and whine everytime you walk into their business.

Hatteras Island does’t deserve their access and has lost this issue, because they have not been willing to stand up for it. The vast population has sat back and hoped that a few locals and visitors would save them, rather then save themselves.

Find a new issue and move on, this one is over.

I for one will no longer help those that will not help themselves. Continue to sit and home and complain, you seem to be very ample at it.

Anon - 28-02-’11 07:57
Denny in Dayton

@Anon: what delusional kind of alternate universe do you live in? I can’t think of anyone I know who lives on the island who hasn’t been active in fighting for access with the exception of the one or two birders. Do you know how much time many of these business people took from their jobs to attend Reg/Neg meetings without compensation. (unlike some on the other side who were)

If there is a side that relied on "outsiders" it’s the birders. There are only a handful who reside on the island, they have relied on large regional organizations like NC Audubon and the SELC as well as the national DOW for money and "support" from many members who have never been to or may never be to CHNSRA. But they got to add their comments as if they were informed when they aren’t, just like you on this absurd post.

Denny in Dayton (Email ) - 28-02-’11 09:17

Don’t confuse yourself. I own a place on HI and visit frequently and I also attended several Reg/Neg meetings. I never saw more then a couple-few dozen in attendance and most were the same people over and over.

Most of the people that complain I’ve never seen at one meeting of any kind.

You are the one in the delusional universe. Just contributing to a calendar or a $100 check to CHAPA will not win this fight.

The Islander apathy is sickening. Serving my food with an attitude about the NPS or complaining to me as you take my money about beach closures WILL NOT WIN this fight.

You are a good writer and make numerous good points in your posts on this blog, but there is not 1% of representation of the 4000+ year round residents at any meeting involving these beaches.

Anon - 28-02-’11 15:24

Hey Anon even if all 4,000 got up and spoke they are still up against the millions of uninformed armchair enviros with a antiquated law on their side. These groups have worked decades to get where they are today. They first tried the ghost crab sand compaction route and failed so they found the cute and fluffy plover and bingo grandma from Debutte buys in and donates her families inheritance not knowing or caring about who they hurt as long as these few birds live.

samsdad1 (Email ) - 01-03-’11 07:24

If the locals don’t at least try and express their concern/outrage publicly, then why should the goverment care. It definitely proves my point.

Wether anyone listens or not to the out crys and protests of the locals means little. It’s the idea of standing up and trying to show that you care and TRYING to make a difference.

That’s OK. Myself and many more outsiders are through. I am going to continue to come and make do, but I am keeping my money in my pocket and I am going to quit wasting my time writing to officials. Why should I do it, if the locals feel they have already lost years ago.

The armchair lobbiests deserve to win against lazy, I give up mentalities.

Anon - 01-03-’11 08:00

I guess we cannot count on you, Bummer. Thanks for leading by example.

samsdad1 (Email ) - 01-03-’11 09:12


I’ve supported this for well over 10 years and have stood steadfast, when the access has been attacked, but I am unable to wrap my head around the fact that the residents have not contributed more of their time to put their bodies and voice in front of those that would harm them.

I’ve yet to see any recent updates from CHAPA or the OBPA. On the OBPA website they are currently talking about the winners of the Calendar drawings and how they are raising their member fees.

Member fees are being increased to support legal fees. I am shocked by this, since no positive results have been made thus far from any legal action they have taken.

It is prudent that the OBPA/CHAPA bring together the residents 1st and get them more involved and then worry about sueing and raising fees.

What exactly is the OBPA planning? What are they doing to restore access, other then funding lawyers in losing cases?

Anon - 02-03-’11 06:44

“Do you know how much time many of these business people took from their jobs to attend Reg/Neg meetings without compensation. (unlike some on the other side who were)”

Denny in Dayton, just how many reg neg meetings did you attend? You want to sit up there in Dayton, OHIO and tell us how it is. I did not see you at any Reg Net meetings making your thoughts known. You come down here at your convenience and that is fine, but don’t keep trying to tell us how much of an expert you are on this issue.

Anon - 02-03-’11 19:15

Typical Anon. Point out the flaws of others and not offer your contribution. If he attended one or none that is his issue. But to pick him out of a crowd of posters on these sites an slam him for his location in this country is BS. I guess if we do win this it will be because of you and we should erect your statue immediately? We who could not make the trips down followed through our peers as best we could, but it really did not matter how many showed up when the Enviros blindsided everyone with their puppet judge and the lawsuit.

samsdad1 (Email ) - 03-03-’11 07:21

“Typical Anon. Point out the flaws of others and not offer your contribution.”

I think that you are a typical out of towner. My contribution is living here and providing on a daily basis while you complain via the internet from where ever you hail from. Then you week or two week warriors come down here and think they know what is happening and threaten not to return if things do not change to your liking at CAHA.

For you to make the statement “but it really did not matter how many showed up” is nothing but a flimsy excuse for not wanting to put forth a real effort by being there and then you have the nerve to get on the keyboard to tell us all about it. Typical!

Anon - 03-03-’11 10:31
Salvo Jimmy

When island residents got fairly well organized and started picketing REG-NEG meetings on the island, recall what happened?????

Environs claimed that they feared for their safety.

All meetings got moved off island to NPS property under the guise of better security. I was present at all REG-NEG meetings except the very last one and I never saw any safety issue from the on island protests at REG-NEG meeting sites.

IMHO it was a move to make it harder for island residents to express their protest. 40+ miles away at a minimum if you lived in RWS. Permit needed if you wanted to be at the actual meeting site.

No doubt the move also cut down on REG-NEG attendance by island residents.

Salvo Jimmy (Email ) - 03-03-’11 10:51

Salvo Jimmy,

If you were the one being threatened at the entrance to the Reg Neg meetings when they were held on HI, you may view things with a different opinion. When the meetings were held at the Comfort Inn in Nags Head, there was a cost involved for the use of the facility so to facilitate security and minimize costs it makes perfect sense to me to hold them at a NPS facility. I am not sure what you mean about the “Permit needed if you wanted to be at the actual meeting site.” There was a permit needed if there was to be a demonstration. To the best of my knowledge there was a permit requested for one of the meetings at Wright Brothers National Monument and that was granted.

To make a comparison, review the lack of control during the DEIS meeting held at HI vs the DEIS meeting held at Wright Bros.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore starts at Whalebone Junction not at HI doesn’t it?

Anon - 03-03-’11 17:05
Salvo Jimmy


Should have been clearer on the permit. Only needed for a demonstration/protest on NPS property, not to attend a meeting on NPS property.

Yep, Seashore starts at Whalebone and goes all the way to Ocracoke Inlet. Real easy for Ocracoke folks to get to KDH.

And yeah I know some had to come from out of state but they were not the citizens being largely affected.

Salvo Jimmy (Email ) - 04-03-’11 10:05

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