Section 3057, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area was passed in December, 2014 as part of The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. Now law, this bill requires the National Park Service (NPS) to review and adjust Wildlife Protection Buffers by June 19, 2015. Specifically, this section of the law requires that “…buffers are of the shortest duration and cover the smallest area necessary to protect a species, as determined in accordance with peer-reviewed scientific data; and… designate pedestrian and vehicle corridors around areas of the Nations Seashore closed because of wildlife buffers, to allow access to areas that are open.”
NPS is currently developing their plan to implement this legislation and intends to release it to the public before the end of April.
CHAPA’s recommendations were sent to the Superintendent for his consideration on April 10, 2015. We believe the recommendations offered can be implemented with minimal disruption to the NPS resource management processes already in place at the Seashore. We also believe our recommendations will balance resource protection and pedestrian / ORV access at the Seashore in a way that is consistent with the intent of the law. We encourage you to read this document.
Representatives from the Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA), North Carolina Beach Buggies Association (NCBBA), Cape Hatteras Anglers Club (CHAC), Dare County Commissioners, and Hatteras Island businesses have been engaged in the effort to develop the CHAPA recommendations since the law was passed. Over the past two months, this group has met with Superintendent Dave Hallac and members of his staff on several occasions to discuss and share ideas about what steps should be taken to meet the intent of the law. In addition to meeting with the Superintendent and members of his staff, we have also met with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC).
Another section of the law titled “Construction of New Vehicle Access Points” states that new vehicle access points and roads should be constructed “…as expeditiously as practicable; and…in accordance with applicable management plans for the National Seashore.” CHAPA priorities were sent to the Superintendent on March 5. Following distribution, we met with the Superintendent and members of his staff to discuss. We are awaiting priority decisions to be announced by the NPS.
NPS has developed a website to track their actions to implement the law as they are announced. The website is titled “2015 National Defense Authorization Act Actions Update” . We recommend that you visit this website to be aware of announcements as they occur.
NPS intends to schedule approximately five public meetings to present the changes they intend to make and to gather input immediately after their release of their plan in April. We will advise you of the dates and locations for those meetings when they become available.
We ask you all to keep informed, to participate in the public meetings, and to make the Park Service aware of your reaction to their actions over the coming weeks and months as the law is implemented. Public participation and input remain critical to the success of achieving our goals of more reasonable pedestrian and ORV access within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.