The National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Southern Environmental Law Center weighed in yesterday on the National Park Service?s Draft Environmental Statement on off-road vehicle management on the Cape Hatteras Seashore.
And they don?t like the Park Service?s preferred Alternative F ? one of six scenarios put forward in the document.
So now we know that neither side in the struggle for access to the seashore like what they saw in the 810 pages.
Those who advocate more access for pedestrians and vehicles have said they support none of the alternatives. Instead they support an alternative put forward by the Coalition for Beach Access.
The environmental groups, on the other hand, do like one alternative ? sort of.
They like Alternative D, which the Park Service has identified as the environmentally preferred alternative, though not its preferred choice. It is also the most restrictive of all of the alternatives in terms of public access.
The big three ? Audubon, Defenders, and SELC ? outlined their comments in a joint statement yesterday.
The groups said they could support Alternative D with some modifications.
They want more pedestrian-only access and, of course, less ORV access. They would allow pedestrian access in areas where colonial waterbird and shorebird breeding behavior is observed. And they want more specific areas identified as closed year-round?not just seasonally ? to ORVs and reserved for pedestrians and wintering shorebirds.
They are also asking for more parking spaces and dune walkovers. We assume that would be to accommodate more people walking to the beach. (Wonder if that would be paved parking areas? The seashore sure could use more asphalt.)
Also, the groups have said that they would agree to access corridors to Cape Point and to South Point on Ocracoke ? subject to the usual resource closures.
Now that is a change that would make everyone happy.
After a brief overview of their comments, the groups went on to sing the praises of the consent decree during past two years.
You know by now how it goes.
In just two years, birds and turtles have made a startling recovery, visitation to the seashore has increased, and business is better than ever, despite closures and a crippling national recession.
These statements are backed up with the usual half-truths and misleading information.
I?ve addressed these claims with facts and perspective in at least seven blogs in the past year.
So I will spare you a re-run. Besides, I fear I am preaching to the choir.
There are however, people, members of the environmental groups and of the media, how will accept these claims as fact. This is unfortunate ? and embarrassing for the media.
The environmental groups, led by SELC, have developed a very clever strategy ? just say it?s true often enough and everyone will believe it?s true.
Then you use clever touches in the releases ? pictures of baby birds squashed in tire tracks or beaches jammed with ORVs on summer weekends.
My personal favorite claim in this most recent statement is:
?The Park Service?s preferred alternative F sets aside only 16 miles of the 68 miles of seashore year-round as non-ORV areas for pedestrians, families, and wildlife.?
I like that ?families? touch.
However, I would challenge any of these protectors of families to find more of them on any summer weekend in areas closed to ORVs than in areas open to ORV access.
It?s not just fishermen who want ORV access. It?s families ? who are bringing youngsters, babies and baby equipment, canopies, outdoor games, life jackets, boogie boards, grills, and coolers of drinks and food to camp out for a day at the beach.
Again, you know how it goes.
I am publishing the full text of the Audubon/Wildlife/SELC media release with a link to the SELC Web site where you can find more charts and graphs and statistics.
Then I am providing links to the seven blogs I have written about what is wrong with the picture they are painting.
You can go back and refresh your memory about the facts or catch one you may have missed.
JOINT STATEMENT FROM AUDUBON/DEFENDERS/SELC
(Issued on May 12, 2010)
National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Southern Environmental Law Center submitted comments yesterday Tuesday, May 11, regarding the National Park Service?s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on Cape Hatteras National Seashore?s Off-road Vehicle Management Plan.
Collectively, these organizations represent 1.5 million members and supporters.
As a unit of the National Park System, Cape Hatteras has been required for decades under federal law to establish guidelines for off-road vehicles (ORVs) that minimize harm to wildlife and natural values of the seashore in accordance with the best available science.
Comments submitted by the conservation groups outlined several measures necessary for the Park Service to meet its legal mandates to conserve and protect the natural resources of the Seashore, leave them unimpaired for future generations, and provide an appropriate balance between continued ORV use and other public uses of the seashore, including pedestrian and family use.
The conservation groups support a final ORV management plan based on the environmentally preferred Alternative D in the DEIS, modified to:
? Allow pedestrian access subject to standard resource closures when shorebird or colonial waterbird breeding behavior is observed.
?Allow 100-foot ORV access corridors to Cape Point and South Ocracoke, subject to standard resource closures when shorebird breeding activity is observed.
? Increase the number of parking spaces and dune walkovers.
? And designate specific areas closed year-round to ORV use for pedestrians and wintering shorebirds.
Additional comments in support of a final ORV management plan based on a modified environmentally preferred Alternative D were also filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, American Bird Conservancy, Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation International, Delaware Valley Ornithological Club, Delmarva Ornithological Society, Sacharuna Foundation, Salem Audubon Society, Saving Birds Thru Habitat, and Wildlands CPR.
In the DEIS, the preferred alternative F put forward by the Park Service falls short of the U.S. Department of Interior?s own scientists? recommendations regarding the measures needed to protect wildlife within the national park. The Park Service?s preferred alternative F sets aside only 16 miles of the 68 miles of seashore year-round as non-ORV areas for pedestrians, families, and wildlife.
Both wildlife numbers and park visitation numbers are up under the 2008 consent decree?s temporary management of ORVs in the park. The last two years had record numbers of turtle nests and the highest number of nesting piping plovers since 1998, as well as a net average increase of nearly 100,000 park visitors in 2008-2009 during months affected by the consent decree, compared to the same time period during the three previous years, 2005-2007. Not only did park visitation remain solid, but Dare County rental occupancy for both 2008 and 2009 reached a record high over a 15-year period despite two years of a nationwide economic recession.
Other beaches on the Atlantic coast that have instituted ORV regulations for natural resource protection have also shown economic resilience to the changes, according to a 1998 study done by Industrial Economics, Inc., for the Division of Economics of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For more information
SHOOTING THE BREEZE BLOGS ON MISLEADING INFORMATION
What the SELC won?t show you?.WITH SLIDE SHOW
Buxton takes a beating from beach closures
SELC?s latest spin on the consent decree
The Continuing Adventures of Defenders, Audubon, and SELC in Wonderland
Is Cape Hatteras a National Park or a Wildlife Refuge?
Another misleading and misinformed SELC media release
More on the misleading media campaign to declare the consent decree a success