The Outer Banks Preservation Association and the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association have posted comments on the National Park Service?s proposed off-road vehicle rule for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on their websites.
The Park Service published its proposed regulation for ORVs at the seashore on July 6. Public comment is open for 60 days ? until Sept. 6.
The groups say they have written this document ?to better inform the public as they prepare their response? to the rule.
?It is our belief that all persons who make use of this Recreational Area owe it to our fellow citizens and future generations to participate in this process,? Jim Keene, a former president of the NCBBA who was also a member of the failed committee that tried for almost two years to negotiate the rule, said in an e-mail to reporters.
Last week, in my blog, I discussed the importance of commenting on the proposed rule ?even as weary as we are of continuing to comment when our efforts appear to be useless. I offered a few thoughts about what we ought to think about as we write comments.
This week, I share the thoughts from OBPA and NCBBA, two groups that have tirelessly advocated for more reasonable access to the seashore beaches, because they offer some different and very interesting ideas and avenues for comment.
?The NPS document spells out rules for ORV Operations and ORV Routes and Areas, therefore your comments should be directed to the document as written and/or that which you believe has been left out or ignored,? the groups say. ?Comments should propose specific solutions where at all possible.?
I would add that you should comment not only on what has been left out, but what has been included.
The groups suggest that ??you note those parts most objectionable to you and your response should be written accordingly.?
OBPA and NCBBA say they will not publish a form letter, ?since this type of response will be ignored by the NPS/DOI readers.?
You can click on a link at the end of this blog to read the entire document, but here are some of the highlights:
ORV permit costs:
?While we will not support permits/fees, if they are instituted by the superintendent, he should limit their cost to a minimal amount that could be readily afforded by the average citizen. A visitor to this seashore should not have to consider the cost of a permit when budgeting his/her family vacation. The $150-$200+ permit costs at some seashores is uncalled for in this Recreational Area.?
Availability of permits:
?Any permit should be readily available on the Internet. The NPS could not possibly process the volume of visitors arriving on a sunny Saturday in mid-summer thus creating unintended closures.?
This is a very good point. Park officials have said that people will have to apply in person and take a ?short educational course? to get a permit. Neither the Final Environmental Impact Statement nor the rule deals with exactly where these permits will be available.
Indeed, weekend afternoons could be a nightmare on summer weekends. Visitors will not want to spend the better part of a day on their vacations waiting to get a permit ? only to find out the year-round ORV routes are not really open year-round.
Special use permits:
The groups? comments note that they support a permit to transport mobility impaired individuals.
?We appreciate a permit being made available but to immediately remove the vehicle presents a safety issue for the impaired person. The driver must be allowed to keep the vehicle conveniently parked to allow a quick and orderly transport from the beach if the need should arise.?
?Review the table DESIGNATED ROUTES, understand what this will do to limit the access to your traditionally, favorite areas whether they be for fishing, shelling, surfing, swimming or family recreating area. Write what is in your heart, without anger, but be explicit.?
?While the chart references ramps 2.5, 32.5, 47.5, 59.5 and several interdunal roads, no mention is made of how or when these routes will be constructed. Money is very slow coming from Washington (as evidenced in the recent end to the work on Bodie Island Lighthouse). Nothing should be closed unless or until these infrastructures are in place and usable. Parking areas must also be constructed to enable parking for all of the vehicles denied the right to park at favored areas.?
Indeed, Superintendent Mike Murray said in an article published this week on Island Free Press that he envisions it will take ?several years? to implement all of the infrastructure improvements.
Also noted in the comments:
- Vehicle-free area should not be designed in the rule and should revert to ORV routes if they are not used by a justifiable number of pedestrians.The rule should provide latitude to the superintendent to adaptively alter designated routes or create new ones if the beaches are altered my natural events or to better reflect visitor-use patterns.
- ORV use in the villages during the winter season should not be fixed in the rule but should be decided by the superintendent, NC Department of Transportation, and Dare and Hyde county officials.
- Night driving restrictions are based on supposition rather than science.
All of the points made in the OBPA and NCBBA documents are worth thinking about when you make comments.
And, by the way, I sent several e-mails two weeks ago to the Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center to ask if those groups wanted to comment on the proposed rule.
They have not answered.
There are currently 69 public comments in the docket folder for the proposed rule at the website, regulations.gov.
To view what others have written, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;dct=FR+PR+N+O+SR+PS;rpp=10;po=0;D=NPS-2011-0005
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Click here to read the OBPA/NCBBA comments.
Click here to read the regulation.
The public comment period will be open from today until Sept. 6. Comments must be received on or before midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) on Tuesday, Sept. 6. The NPS says that it does not anticipate extending the public comment period beyond Sept. 6 because of the court deadline for completing the final rule.
You may submit comments on the Proposed Rule, identified by the Regulation Identifier Number: (RIN) 1024-AD85, by any of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments
Mail or hand deliver to: Superintendent, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, 1401 National Park Drive, Manteo, North Carolina 27954.
Comments submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov or submitted by mail must be entered or postmarked before midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) Sept. 6. Comments submitted by hand delivery must be received by the close of business hours (5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time) September 6, 2011. Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or in any way other than those specified above, and bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.
All submissions received must include the agency name and RIN for this rulemaking: 1024-AD85. All comments received through the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov will be available without charge. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment including your personal identifying information may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.