Comment Now About Changes to the ORV Rule You Want Implemented


The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 requires a public process to consider changes to the ORV rule as it relates to the morning opening of beaches, extending the length of seasonal ORV routes in the fall and/or spring, and modifying the size and location of vehicle Free areas (VFAs).  The National Park Service (NPS) provided preliminary alternatives for these three elements in its July 30 newsletter.  (Click this link to view the newsletter and to provide comment).

 Comments are due by August 21, 2015.  The newsletter also outlines the timeframe for steps which will follow, including a future comment period for the proposed rule which will likely occur in late 2015, early 2016.

 The alternatives in the newsletter present ideas the NPS has developed for consideration, but, the newsletter also asks the question “Are there any additional alternative options you would like the NPS to consider?”  CHAPA will submit detailed and specific recommendations to the NPS and will share them with you at a later date.  The NPS places high value on comments submitted by individuals and CHAPA urges you to personally participate in the scoping process.  Please ensure the NPS understand what is important to you in each of these elements and submit additional options for consideration as requested.  CHAPA offers the following information to help you prepare.

Morning Opening of Beaches:

Current Rule:  All beaches open at 7:00 am, close at 9:00 pm

 NPS Preliminary Options:

  • Designate priority beaches that are cleared by resource management staff and opened at 6:30 a.m.
  • Allow visitors to follow resource management staff onto the beach at designated ramps and to drive a safe distance behind the staff as they clear the beach.

CHAPA Position:

  • NPS should take necessary steps to open priority beaches as soon after first light at possible.
  • You should tell the NPS which beaches are high priority and what time you think they should open.

Seasonal Open / Close ORV Access Dates:

Current Rule: seasonal beaches are open to ORV access between the following dates:



Beaches in Front of Villages:

Nov 1 – Mar 31

Beaches Outside of Villages (currently only on Bodie Island, ramp 4 S):

Sep 15 – Mar 15

 NPS Preliminary Options:

  • An additional two weeks in the fall and spring
  • An additional four weeks in the fall and spring
  • An additional six weeks in the fall and spring
  • An extension in the fall only

CHAPA Position:

  • Seasonal beaches in front of villages should be reopened earlier in the fall and longer in the spring.
  • Seasonal beaches not in front of villages, including any new seasonal beaches as a result of the review of VFA designations, should be reopened to ORV access no later than September 15.
  • You should tell the NPS what you believe are most reasonable dates for opening and closing of seasonal beaches for ORV access and why.

Vehicle Free Areas:

Current Rule: 25.25 miles are designated as Vehicle Free Areas (VFAs).

Beach Classification:


Vehicle Free Area

25.25 mi

Seasonal Access Route

12.60 mi

Year Round ORV Route

25.15 mi


63.00 mi

Current VFAs


Bodie Island

Ramp 1 S


Ramp 2 S


Bodie Island Spit


Current VFAs


Hatteras Island

Rodanthe Pier N


Ramp 23 S


Ramp 27 S


Ramp 34 N




Ramp 45 E to Point


Ramp 45 W


Sandy Bay


Hatteras Island Spit


Current VFAs


Ocracoke Island

Ramp 59 E


Between Ramp 59 W and Ramp 67 E


Campground W


South Point (Inlet Spit)




NPS Preliminary Options:

  • The NPS does not provide specific recommendations and ask the public the following question: “What locations do you see as potential areas for modification?”

CHAPA Position:

  • The size and number of current VFAs are excessive and detrimental to the visitor experience.
  • The NPS should reclassify many of the current VFAs to either seasonal ORV routes or year round ORV routes.
  • The NPS should reclassify some seasonal ORV routes to year round ORV routes.
  • Reducing the amount of VFA miles can be done in a way that will not increase risk to natural resources nor affect the opportunities for visitors to experience large expanses of vehicle free beaches while at the seashore.
  • You need to tell the NPS which VFAs are most important to you for designation as either seasonal or ORV routes, why it is important, and why you think that the change in designation meets the objectives described in the NPS scoping newsletter.  For some, the temptation will be to tell the NPS that all VFAs should be designated as ORV routes.  While that may accurately reflect your sentiments, please be aware that the reality is that all VFAs will not be eliminated.  CHAPA urges you to review the list of VFAs and provide comments accordingly.


CHAPA Position:

  • The NPS should issue 10 day permits in addition to annual permits.
  • The NPS should issue annual permits that are valid for a year from issue date.