The National Park Service has released the final report of the Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee for Off-Road Vehicle Management for Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The committee disbanded in late February without reaching its goal of consensus.
The report was compiled and prepared by the Reg-Neg committee facilitators – Patrick Field and Ona Ferguson of the Consensus Building Institute in Boston, Mass., and Robert Fisher of Fisher Collaborative Services in Alexandria, Va. – for the National Park Service. The report provides diverse stakeholder input on a full spectrum of ORV management issues for the seashore, according to the Park Service media release.
The bad news is that the report is 1,654 pages long. The good news is that if you read the responses from the beach access and environmental caucuses that were published earlier this week, you have read the most important part of the report. Each is 77 pages.
That’s 154 pages of the report. There are a few pages of introduction.
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, which had a seat at the table, submitted several pages of comment.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also submitted comments – about 20 pages.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission submitted a brief addendum – mostly about nesting sea turtles.
And the watersports representative on the committee, Trip Forman, and his alternate, Matt Nuzzo, both of REAL Watersports, submitted an addendum for their industry that is an incredible 1,400-plus pages.
Their response includes letters of support from watersports superstars, pages and pages of petition signers – with emails and addresses – and hundreds of pages of e-mailed support for preserving ORV access for surfers, windsurfers, and kiteboarders.
It’s rather interesting, since a few folks have been critical of the watersports industry for not being proactive enough on the ORV access issue.
There were some groups with seats at the negotiating table that were conspicuously absent from the final report.
Jim Lyons of the Cape Hatteras Recreational Alliance, Neal Moore of the Cape Hatteras Bird Club, and Stephen Kayota of the Hatteras Island Homeowners Coalition did not submit responses for the report – or at least they were not included.
All three of these committee members caucused with the environmental/conservation groups during the final committee meetings and joined the Defenders of Wildlife and National Audubon Society to vote against the routes and areas plan by the ORV access caucus.
That final vote at the final meeting on the two versions of the routes and areas map was 17 to 5 and essentially ended the stalled negotiation process. (Majority did not rule in the committee because of ground rules set up by members. It was all or nothing.)
Lyons represented pedestrian-only access issues. Moore represented birdwatchers. Kayota represented a group that would settle for nothing less than year-round closures of the beaches in Frisco village, where he owns an oceanfront home.
Finally, as you look over which groups did and did not write an addendum for the final report, consider the interesting case of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission.
It seems that the MFC was for the beach access proposal before it wasn’t sure it was really for it – at least not yet.
MFC was represented on the committee by Wayne Mathis, who voted with the beach access caucus on that last 17-5 decision.
MFC Chairman Mac Currin said that Mathis “served with the confidence and authority of the MFC” but asked that the commission be removed from the list of groups submitting the ORV access addendum until the full commission could vote on it – maybe in May.
“I have read the document and do not have any major problems with it,” Currin wrote in an e-mail. “I would predict that the MFC will be supportive, but at this time, I cannot speak for them. The MFC members may be able to review the draft before our next meeting and voice approval or not, but some may wish to have a more in-depth discussion at our next meeting and formally vote on approval- that may be best. Regardless, we will review the document at least by our May meeting and give it our full consideration.”
I seriously doubt at this point that anyone cares whether MFC gets around to voting in May.
If you have the urge to look at all 1,654 pages, it can be found at:
The report has been uploaded to the PEPC website, under the ORV Management Plan project, and is the last bullet on the documents list page. Because of the size of the report, it is separated into two files.