Public Comment Needed by August 2, 2013
As announced by Superintendent Barclay Trimble on June 26, 2013, the public comment period for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Proposal to Facilitate Additional Public Beach Access – Environmental Assessment opened on July 1, 2013 and will end on August 2, 2013.
We urge you to review the documents, to form your personal opinions about the proposals, and to provide your comments by August 2, 2013.
The official NPS documents for this assessment can be found at the following link:
The document is 188 pages long. We suggest that you first focus on tables 2-1, 2-2 and 4-5 to understand the proposed projects. You should then review other sections within the document as needed to aid you in your review and formulation of comments.
You may submit your comments at the following web site:
The Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA) motto is “Preserve and Protect, Not Prohibit.” Another phrase often used is “Free and Open Beaches.” Our goal has always been to maximize beach access for all visitors to the beaches at Cape Hatteras. Infrastructure projects alone cannot resolve the punitive access restrictions placed on the public by the ORV rule in February, 2012. Nevertheless, infrastructure projects to improve access are long overdue. In our opinion, many of the projects identified by NPS have obvious value, while some are more questionable. We urge everyone who values CHNSRA to take the time to review the proposals, form your own opinions, and provide comment within the allotted time frame.
The following information will be the basis for the official CHAPA comments to the National Park Service Environmental Assessment. We thank the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA), an alliance member, for their effort in preparing the project assessment table which is included and which they distributed to their members last week. We hope you will find it useful as you conduct your review.General Observations:
- The 29 infrastructure projects assessed by the NPS address both pedestrian and ORV access improvements which were identified in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Final Environmental Impact Statement/ORV Management Plan – November, 2010. These projects are defined within the NPS assessment on page 5. Per the NPS descriptions;
- 5 of the projects are intended to primarily benefit ORV access.
- 5 of the projects are intended to benefit both pedestrian and ORV access.
- 19 of the projects are intended to benefit pedestrian access only.
- 11 projects include components to improve access to the handicapped in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Many of the projects are long overdue. Some of the projects are of questionable value to either ORV or pedestrian use.
- Cost estimates have not been provided for each individual project.
- The NPS intends to fund all 29 projects with the ORV permit fees instituted by the ORV rule in February 2012. (“Funding for the proposed action would come from ORV permit fees established under the ORVMP/EIS.” p. 45)
- Approximately $2 million in ORV permit fees were collected in 2012.
- ORV permit fees are also used to fund ongoing operations, e.g. permit offices, rule enforcement, ramp maintenance.
- None of the projects are intended to be funded through the general or capital budgets for the CHNSRA.
- The NPS intends to assign the highest priority to projects that provide access to areas of the beach that are closed to ORVs. (“Facilities would be implemented based on funding, cost, and regulatory issues with the highest priority given to construction projects that provide access to areas of the beach that are closed to ORVs.” p. 45)
- Timelines for projects have not been provided.