National Park Service Begins Cape Hatteras Seashore Changes
Superintendent David Hallac announced today that Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) staff began the process in early January of reviewing and complying with recently passed legislation in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act related to the Seashore.
The legislation provides 180 days for the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the State of North Carolina and in accordance with applicable laws, to review and modify wildlife buffers and designate pedestrian and vehicle corridors around buffers to allow access to areas that are open in the Seashore.
It also requires a public process to consider, consistent with management requirements at the Seashore, changes to the Seashore’s Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) special regulation as it relates to morning opening of beaches, extending the length of fall and spring seasonal ORV routes, and modifying vehicle free areas. The Secretary of the Interior must report back to Congress within one year after the date of enactment of the Act.
“The schedule is ambitious but we will do our best to utilize input from the public, our experienced staff, and the assistance from other State and Federal agencies, to implement the legislation,” stated Superintendent Hallac.
The Outer Banks Group plans to use a four-step approach:
- Review the best available science on wildlife buffers, in coordination and consultation with State and Federal agencies, to consider modifications to buffers currently used by the Seashore and possible new ORV corridors. We anticipate making any proposed modifications available for public input and review later this spring.
- Launch a series of public discussion meetings in late May/early June to gather and consider input on morning openings, extending seasonal ORV routes, and modifying vehicle free areas and to develop a plan to implement appropriate changes.
- Review the current beach access construction projects schedule for possible reprioritization towards those projects that provide vehicle access points in critical areas.
- Report back to Congress by December 19, 2015.
Assistance to Seashore park staff will be supplemented by NPS employees from the Southeast Regional Office and in consultation with other Federal and State agencies who share mutual responsibilities and management of natural resources.
Updates via press releases will be issued every two weeks or as significant progress is made.
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