11/26/2010 - The following letter to the Virginian Pilot editor was published this week in the newpaper's online edition. It was written by Jeff "Wheat" Golding, OBPA board member, in response to an earlier editorial supporting the FEIS. That editorial can be read at
A good compromise on Hatteras driving, I should say not!
The fight for access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area began long before the now infamous presidential executive order 11644 signed by Nixon in 1972. In fact, the Park Service originally intended that Hatteras and Ocracoke be set aside as primitive wilderness, in complete conflict with the 1937 legislation establishing the Seashore. The Park Service’s new proposed plan is also in direct conflict with that legislation and a healthy dose of other federal statutes designed to guide NPS and other federal agencies in their management decisions.
I received my copy of the FEIS (proposed rule) Thursday the 18th of this month. The scales at the post office put this two volume, 1000 plus page document, at 8 pounds 12 ounces. And in spite of my hard earned knowledge of the subjects at hand, I have only just begun to digest this federal work. I have seen enough already to know that what has been presented in this editorial is flawed and often not fact based.
The new rule does not bring predictability to the Seashore except what areas will be permanently closed to both pedestrian and ORV use. The remaining areas will still be subjected to confusing seasonal and nesting closures as they have for the last three years. The proposed new parking areas will not assist anyone in accessing the remote portions of the islands and in fact will eliminate access to significant portions of the seashore to mobility impaired persons such as me. If you study the FEIS you will see this. And if you look beyond the published FEIS, you will also see that the reported economic impact of the Consent Decree, somewhat mild in comparison to the proposed rule, has been white-washed by NPS in their thinly veiled attempt at “putting lipstick on a pig”.
Mr. Luzzatto, When I called and spoke to you yesterday and received your blessing to extend beyond the 750 character limit, I neglected to mention Carter’s E.O. 11989 (1977) and the Park Services’ reliance and use of this order in order to justify these immense, proposed closures. This E.O. requires that NPS determine that “considerable adverse effects” either will be caused or are being caused by ORV’s before an area is closed to ORV use. To date, NPS, neither USFWS nor the various environmental groups have been able to demonstrate anything even remotely approaching “considerable adverse effects” as a result of vehicular access to the Seashore. Instead we are confronted with hundreds of pages of speculation, out of date studies, USGS protocols that were “peer reviewed” by the authors, and it gets worse. One study within the FEIS concerns bird behavior in South Africa, perhaps just a short ferry ride from Ocracoke.
A compromise this FEIS is not. Instead it is a significant derogation of the congressionally mandated mission of this Seashore that will negatively affect the lives of tens of thousands of people from all over this nation, many of whom have visited here for generations, as well as those of us that live here. Without the ability to show “considerable adverse effects”, NPS proposes to change the entire nature of this seashore and our environment. This is not a compromise; this is a tragedy unfolding before our eyes.
I encourage Mr. Luzzatto to come and visit Hatteras Island to see and hear firsthand what this proposed rule will mean to the residents and visitors to this island.