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Sunday, 03 May 2015 12:54
The National Park Service published  the "Environmental Assessment: Review and Adjustment of Wildlife Protection Buffers - Cape Hatteras National Seashore" on April 29, 2015".

This document presents the changes to wildlife buffers and corridors proposed by NPS for implementation after June 19th.

As previously announced, NPS is holding public meetings between May 4 and 8 to explain the proposals and to receive public input.  OBPA will provide additional information to assist you in understanding the potential impact of these important changes.
 
4/24/2015 Status Report - NPS ORV Management Planning Project
Friday, 24 April 2015 08:29


On April 13, 2015 we announced that CHAPA’s recommendations regarding changes to the Resource Management Program required by the new law were sent to the Superintendent for his consideration.  Since that communication, two additional events of which you should be aware have occurred.

1. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Provides Input to NPS in Accordance with Section 3057 of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act

On April 15, 2015 Gordon Myers, Executive Director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission  provided information to the National Park Service (NPS) which included buffer and corridor and management practices  recommendations regarding North Carolina state species of concern, sea turtles and piping plovers at the Seashore.  This action was taken to help NPS fulfill the requirement of the new law that “…appropriate buffer protections for species not listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973…, but that are identified for protection under State law” be determined after coordinating with the State.

CHAPA supports the  NCWRC recommendations (click on link to read) and believe they provide sound  direction to NPS for the management of buffers and corridors in a manner that will balance resource protection and pedestrian / ORV access at the Seashore in a way that is consistent with the intent of the law.  We urge you to read this document.  You will find that the recommendations provided to NPS by CHAPA are consistent with those developed by NCRWC.

2. 4/22/2015 NPS Update – Infrastructure Projects Priorities Set and Public Meetings Announced

On April 22, 2015, Superintendent David Hallac provided an ORV Management Plan Update for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. (Click on link to read.)  The update provided information of which you need to be aware.

  • Reprioritization of Construction Projects

The Park Service has reprioritized and expedited the schedule of projects identified in the 2010 ORV Management Plan to emphasize projects that provide ORV and pedestrian access.

This action complies with  the section of the law titled “Construction of New Vehicle Access Points”  which 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.

CHAPA supports the projects and prioritizations announced by Superintendent Hallac and believe they will provide valuable improvements to access at the Seashore as intended.  We believe these projects are an appropriate use of the ORV fees which are collected at the Seashore, but we continue to urge the Park Service to seek cost effective solutions as it moves forward with these projects.

The project name and original and expedited schedules are in the table below:

Project

Original Start / Completion Date

Expedited Start / Completion

New ORV Ramp 25 with boardwalk to the beach

2013 / 2014

Completed

Ramp 25 – New 10 Car Parking

2013 / 2014

Spring, 2015

New ORV Ramp 32 (Little Kinnakeet) with a 10-car parking lot and foot trail to the beach

2014 / 2015

2015

A new unpaved interdunal road between Ramps 45 and 49

2017 / 2018

2015 / 2015

A new ORV Ramp 63 across from Scrag Cedar Road on Ocracoke

2016 / 2017

2015 / 2016

A new ORV Ramp 48

2018/2018

2015/2016


  • Public Meetings to Present  Proposed Actions to Modify Wildlife Buffers and Corridors

Superintendent Hallac also announced that five public meetings have been scheduled for the week of May 4, 2015 at which information about the NPS proposed actions with regard to the modification of wildlife buffers and corridors as required by the new law.

Meetings have been scheduled as follows:

Monday, May 4

Ocracoke, North Carolina

Ocracoke School, 1 Schoolhouse Road, Ocracoke, NC  27920

6 PM to 8 PM


Tuesday, May 5

Buxton, North Carolina

Cape Hatteras Secondary School, 48576 Hwy 12, Buxton, NC  27920

6 PM to 8 PM


Wednesday, May 6

Raleigh, North Carolina

NC State University Campus

McKimmon Conference and Training Center, 1101 Gorman Street, Raleigh, NC  27695

6 PM to 8 PM


Thursday, May 7

Hampton/ Norfolk, Virginia

Embassy Suites Hampton Roads, 1700 Coliseum Drive, Hampton, VA  23666

6 PM to 8 PM


Friday, May 8

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Hilton Garden Inn, 5353 N Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC  27949

6 PM to 8 PM


Specifically, the law requires the National Park Service (NPS) to review and adjust Wildlife Protection Buffers by June 19, 2015.  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.”

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.

What You Should Do:

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.  We will advise you when the NPS publishes their proposals for changes to buffers and corridors.  In addition to following our communications, we urge you to visit the NPS webpage titled   “2015 National Defense Authorization Act Actions Update” and to visit www.IslandFreePress.org to stay current with the latest information.

 
Friday, 12 December 2014 22:03

Today, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015.  The bill has been forwarded to President Obama for his signature.  Section 3507 within Title 30 of the bill is named the Cape Hatteras Seashore Recreational Area.  This section is the same legislation known as Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act(S. 486) .

The passage of the Cape Hatteras bill represents a major milestone in our fight to properly balance visitor recreational and resource protection goals within the seashore.  It has been a rocky road to navigate, and we thank our membership for their encouragement and support over the years.

We cannot overstate our gratitude to Congressman Jones, Senator Burr, and Senator Hagan for their years of undying commitment to our cause.  We also thank others who have been steadfast in their support of our mission including Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, the Dare County Board of Commissioners and particularly Commissioner Warren Judge.  On multiple occasions over the past six years Commissioner Judge was called to testify before congressional committees which he always did with unmatched passion, conviction and effectiveness.

We must also thank other organizations that have been by our side throughout this effort.  Most notably, the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club (CHAC) and the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA) have been instrumental in the formation, funding and guidance of the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Association (CHAPA).  Other organizations such as the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) have provided invaluable counsel and support over the years.

The satisfaction, relief and sense of accomplishment we feel today is tempered by the realization that much work is still ahead to execute the new law and to accomplish its objective.  We believe the legislation establishes requirements and guidelines to the National Park Service that will result in reasonable regulations that will properly balance recreational access and resource protection.  We look forward to working with the NPS and the new superintendent to achieve this objective.

 
CHAPA Recommendations to NPS for Changes to Resource Managment Program
Monday, 13 April 2015 09:24

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.

 
Sunday, 07 December 2014 19:16

On Thursday, December 4, the House of Representatives passed and sent to the Senate H.R. 3979, The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.  Included in this bill, and therefore also passing, is section EC 3057 Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.  This section is the same legislation known as Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act (S. 486) which was introduced by Senator Richard Burr (NC) and approved unanimously by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2013.  It is also the same bill that Senator Burr sponsored as an amendment to the unsuccessful Bipartisan Sportsmen’s act which failed to pass the Senate in July 2014.

The Defense Spending Bill was crafted over the past several weeks by a joint Senate / House committee to establish Defense funding levels for the next year.  Senator Burr and Congressman Walter Jones pushed for S. 486 to be included as part of a package of land bills attached to the Defense Authorization Act.  The complete bill was introduced in the House late Tuesday night (December 2) and sailed through with a vote of 300 – 119 on Thursday.

The bill will be debated on the Senate floor this week with a vote expected either late in the week or early the following week.  Odds of Senate passage appear high given the importance of the Defense Spending legislation and the margin of the bi-partisan House vote.  However, we urge everyone to contact their Senators to ask their support.  If you live in North Carolina, it is equally important that you call or email to thank Senator Burr and Senator Hagan for their continued effort to bring this legislation to passage.  Please call or email as quickly as possible since the legislation will likely be considered during the week.

Senate Directory

Letters through U.S. mail will likely not be received before the vote occurs.

Senator Burr’s press release follows:

December 4, 2014 - 3:31 PM

Burr Applauds House Passage of Beach Access Legislation

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) applauds the House passage of H.R. 4435, a bill that includes legislation he authored known as the Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act (S. 486).  After successful bipartisan negotiations last year, an amended version of Senator Burr’s bill was approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  With Senator Burr’s urging, the amended version of S. 486 was included as part of larger legislation that the House of Representatives passed today. The Hatteras legislation will help tourists and sportsmen gain access to North Carolina’s renowned Outer Banks beaches.  The legislation will set rules and parameters for the National Park Service (NPS) to abide by when they consider limiting citizen access to beaches, including off-road vehicle (ORV) access.

Senator Burr has long been an advocate of opening up North Carolina’s beaches to the public, while maintaining the wildlife and scenic beauty and began work on this legislation in 2008. Senator Burr’s hard work has led to ORV access finally being passed by the House and soon by the Senate.

“Interference from outside interest groups and Federal restrictions on beach access have crippled local businesses along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore for years – it has impaired the local community and its economy,” Senator Burr said.  “This House vote is a win for North Carolinians and tourists from around the country who wish to visit North Carolina’s scenic treasures. This has been a long journey that required compromise on both sides of the aisle in order to see it through. I feel confident that my Senate colleagues will swiftly pass this legislation and unlock the beauty of North Carolina’s shores.”

New parameters would direct the NPS to minimize buffers on protected areas and keep them in place for the shortest possible duration necessary, designate pedestrian and vehicle corridors around areas that are closed, coordinate with the State of North Carolina when establishing certain buffers, and allow for a public process when considering limiting access in special situations.  The agreement also directs the NPS to construct vehicle access points and roads as expeditiously as possible and report its progress to Congress within one year of the act becoming law.

Groups including the American Sportfishing Association and Congressional Sportsmen Foundation are supporters.

Text of the Bill:

EC. 3057. CAPE HATTERAS NATIONAL SEASHORE RECREATIONAL AREA.

(a) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:
(1) FINAL RULE.—The term ‘‘Final Rule’’means the final rule entitled ‘‘Special Regulations, Areas of the National Park System, Cape Hatteras National Seashore—Off-Road Vehicle Management’’(77 Fed. Reg. 3123 (January 23, 2012)).
(2) NATIONAL SEASHORE.—The term ‘‘National Seashore’’ means the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.
(3) SECRETARY.—The term ‘‘Secretary’’ means the Secretary of the Interior.
(4) STATE.—The term ‘‘State’’ means the State of North Carolina.

(b) REVIEW AND ADJUSTMENT OF WILDLIFE PROTECTION BUFFERS.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall review and modify wildlife buffers in the National Seashore in accordance with this subsection and any other applicable law.
(2) BUFFER MODIFICATIONS.—In modifying wildlife buffers under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall, using adaptive management practices—
(A) ensure that the 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
(B) designate pedestrian and vehicle corridors around areas of the National Seashore closed because of wildlife buffers, to allow access to areas that are open.
(3) COORDINATION WITH STATE.—The Secretary, after coordinating with the State, shall determine appropriate buffer protections for species that are not listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), but that are identified for protection under State law.

(c) MODIFICATIONS TO FINAL RULE.—The Secretary shall undertake a public process to consider, consistent with management requirements at the National Seashore, the following changes to the Final Rule:
(1) Opening beaches at the National Seashore that are closed to night driving restrictions, by opening beach segments each morning on a rolling basis as daily management reviews are completed.
(2) Extending seasonal off-road vehicle routes for additional periods in the Fall and Spring if offroad vehicle use would not create resource management problems at the National Seashore.
(3) Modifying the size and location of vehicle free areas.

(d) CONSTRUCTION OF NEW VEHICLE ACCESS POINTS.—The Secretary shall construct new vehicle access points and roads at the National Seashore—
(1) as expeditiously as practicable; and
(2) in accordance with applicable management plans for the National Seashore.

(e) REPORT.—The Secretary shall report to Congress within 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act on measures taken to implement this section.

Click here to read the entire 1,648 pages of the National Defense Authorization Act.

 

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