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Friday, 16 April 2010 00:00

Here is the link to the video of the Buxton workshop presented by the Coalition for Beach Access.

This workshop provides valuable information to help you prepare comments on the NPS DEIS.

http://www.darenc.com/video/player.php?title=beach_access_04_13_10.wmv

The handouts used in ths workshop can be downloaded at:

http://www.obpa-nc.org/position/assessment.pdf

The Coalition's Position Statement can be downloaded at:

http://www.obpa-nc.org/position/statement.pdf

 

 
Friday, 05 March 2010 00:00

March 5, 2010                                                                                   

Coalition for Beach Access

Announcement: ORV Access Environmental Impact Position Statement Released

The Coalition for Beach Access is a group of organizations committed to the preservation of pedestrian and ORV access to the beaches within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.  These organizations participated in the NPS Negotiated Rule Making Process which was unable to arrive at a consensus recommendation from all parties. 

The Coalition has continued to advocate its positions over the intervening months as the NPS has prepared the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft ORV Plan for the Recreational Area.

The Coalition has developed the attached “ORV Access Environmental Impact Position Statement” to summarize its positions on many of the issues that are important to its goal of open access to the Recreational Area.

The Coalition believes the positions stated within this document and its attachments represent a common sense, reasonable approach to ORV Management that will protect public access and natural resources without impairment to either.

All who are interested in the preservation of pedestrian and ORV access to the beaches within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area are urged to compare and contrast this document with the NPS DEIS and ORV Plans to assist them in the preparation of comments during the official comment periods.

Electronic Copy of Statement can be downloaded at www.obpa-nc.org/position/statement.pdf

Electronic Copy of NPS DEIS can be downloaded at:  http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=358&projectId=10641&documentID=32596

The Coalition:

American Sportfishing Association                                         

Avon Property Owners Association

Cape Hatteras Anglers Club                                       

North Carolina Beach Buggy Association               This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Outer Banks Preservation Association                   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association

United Mobile Sportsfishermen

Watersports Industry Association, Inc

 
Friday, 01 January 2010 00:00

Brief History of the Consent Decree –

Why we need H.R. 718 and S.1557

 For decades, the National Park Service has worked closely with the residents of and visitors to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to preserve the fundamental purposes for which the park was created, that is, to provide public access to the seashore while preserving the natural habitats of wildlife, both indigenous and migratory.

 In 2007, an Interim Federal Plan was put in place to regulate access to the National Seashore until the final plan is in place in April 2011.  It was adopted through a public process and was being implemented by the National Park Service in a fair and effective manner, balancing public access with resource protection.

 In January of 2008, the Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of the Audubon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife, filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin the National Park Service from further management of the Park pursuant to the 2007 the Interim Plan.  The complaint alleged that the Park Service Interim Plan was inadequate to protect and preserve the natural resources of the National Seashore as required by Executive Order 11644.  E.O. 11644 requires generally that ORV use in national parks be managed “so as to protect the resources of those lands, to promote the safety of all users of those lands, and to minimize conflicts among the various uses of those lands.”

 The remedy requested was to enjoin all ORV access to the Bodie Island Spit, Cape Point, South Beach, Hatteras Spit, North Ocracoke and South Ocracoke on Cape Hatteras National Seashore for the duration of the litigation or until a final plan is adopted.   Since most of the National Seashore is inaccessible except by vehicle, this action would make these areas unavailable for recreation purposes for all, including the elderly, the handicapped, families with small children, fishermen and birdwatchers, among others, 24 hours a day, 12 months of the year until the final plan is in place.

 Dare County, North Carolina, Hyde County, North Carolina, and Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and were granted the right to intervene on Dec. 14, 2007.   Despite objections by Dare County, the National Park service chose not to defend the lawsuit and negotiations began between the U.S. Attorney, representing the National Park Service, and the environmental groups.  Dare and Hyde Counties and the Preservation Alliance were excluded from these negotiations.  After weeks of negotiations, the framework of a settlement was presented to Dare County for comment.   Changes were requested but were rejected and no settlement was reached. 

 Several days after the failed negations, Dare County and Hyde County were presented with a take-it-or-leave-it option and given one hour to decide whether to accept the settlement as presented and enter a Consent Decree or risk total closure of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area for the remainder of 2008 and the entirety of the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

 The counties for practical reasons reluctantly entered into the Consent Decree, as they could not risk full closures for three entire seasons.  The Consent Decree effectively overrides any authority of the National Park Service to make reasoned judgments as to the management of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and resulted in closures of beaches that were unprecedented in the history of the Park.

 The Consent Decree was not implemented until May of 2008 by which time bird nests had, for the most part, already been established and tourist plans and financial commitments already made.  Even so, the Consent Decree with its severe limits on access to the National Seashore and had a severe negative impact on the 2008 season.  In 2009, the consent decree has had a devastating effect on the economy, the residents and business owners of Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke. Local family businesses that have been on Hatteras Island for decades are closing or are barely hanging on.  This area depends on the summer tourist season to support the economy through the winter.  If the 2010 season is lost, as it surely will be if the Consent Decree remains in place, it is unlikely that these businesses will be able to survive, and a part of our heritage that makes Hatteras unique will be lost forever.

 H.R. 718 and S. 1557 would restore the authority of the National Park Service to preserve beach access to the seashore, which is critical to protect our cultural heritage, our economy, and the public’s right of access to their seashore, while protecting the Park’s resources.

NPS Resource Management Field Summary Reports – Synopsis

The first full season under the Consent Decree

  The 2009 bird-breeding season at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore experienced better than normal nesting weather.  Temperatures at the Seashore were cooler than normal. No tropical storms or nor’easters flooded the islands.  Normal rainfall amounts fell.  Conditions suggested better than average results might be expected.  Actual numbers reported by the NPS through August 7, 2009 indicate results have not been better, and in some cases are worse, than in 2008. 

 In the case of the piping plover (PIPL), 2009 compared to 2008 recorded fewer breeding pairs (9 vs. 11), fewer hatched eggs (19 vs. 22), and fewer fledged chicks (6 vs. 7).  The Consent Decree went into effect on May 1, 2008, after the arrival of the PIPLs for the 2008 breeding season.  The results for 2008, and for 2009 (the first full year under the Consent Decree) have shown no improvement from what was experienced under the Interim Plan in effect in 2006/2007.  The 2009 fledge rate of .67 per breeding pair matches the 2006 results.

American oystercatchers (AMOY) nesting results for 2009 were also worse than in 2008.  Assuming all remaining chicks as of August 7 successfully fledge, 2009 will record 14 fledged chicks compared to 17 recorded in 2008.  AMOY’s do not breed until four years of age, so the increase in the number of breeding pairs in recent years should be attributed to management policies prior to the Consent Decree.

Results for black skimmers and other colonial waterbirds for which closures are established have not yet been quantified by the NPS.  The turtle-nesting season is still in progress with nests and false crawls numbers to-date similar to what were experienced in 2008.

Observations suggest that black skimmers continue to nest in limited numbers on the seashore with the Consent Decree having no noticeable improvement.  However, as in 2008, skimmers have nested in great numbers on Cora June Island.  David Allen of the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission said there were “over 100 black skimmers” and some common terns on Cora June Island after viewing pictures this summer.   Although only 500 yards behind the Hatteras Village ferry docks, Cora June is not technically part of the Seashore and therefore is excluded from the NPS statistics. Also, approximately 250 to 300 black skimmers, 30 common terns and 300 least terns have been observed nesting on the beaches south of the Oregon Inlet groin on Pea Island.  However, this area is also excluded from the results reported by the NPS because it is managed within the Pea Island Wildlife Reserve, even though it is a part of the Seashore.  

 The results have not supported the closure policies dictated by the Consent Decree.  In fact, factors other than ORV or pedestrian activities have had a more significant impact on results.  The NPS recognizes that predators are responsible for significant loses of bird and turtle eggs and hatchlings.  Since 2002, over 800 predators have been trapped on the Seashore.  Numbers of trappings have increased substantially over the past two years after the NPS hired a full-time trapper.  Some have surmised that predator activity on the beaches may have actually increased as a result of the Consent Decree due to the absence of ORVs and pedestrians.  Another factor negatively impacting the breeding success of all shorebirds is the loss of habitat due to vegetation growth that has occurred in areas used for nesting in prior years.  The absence of ORV activity as a result of closures during the non-breeding season (September thru March) has contributed to the unchecked vegetation growth in these areas.  A third factor that negatively impacts results is weather.  Storms did not impact the bird-nesting season in 2009, and it remains to be seen if storms (combined with the NPS policy of not relocating turtle nests from at-risk locations) will negatively impact the 2009 turtle hatches.

 When costs are considered, the appropriateness of the Consent Decree is even more questionable.  Thru 8/16/2008 (only three and a half months after its implementation), the NPS spent $316,000 more than what would have been spent under the Interim Plan (per Supt. Mike Murray) and continues to incur incremental costs during 2009 (aprox. $300,000 to $400,000).  As a result of the Consent Decree settlement, the plaintiffs were paid $100,000.  These costs are real, but the cost to the U.S. taxpayers does not even approach the cost to the economy of the islands, nor the diminished quality of the visitors’ experience at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Beach Access Report Summary

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area

TOTAL AREA

Bodie, Hatteras & Ocracoke Districts

Dates

% Closed To Access

% Open

To Access

Miles

Closed

To Access

Open

ORV&Ped (NPS)

Open

Ped Only

(NPS)

Limited

Access

(NPS)

Closed

(NPS)

07/30/09

60.4%

39.6%

40.5

26.5

26.8

5.1

8.6

07/23/09

62.2%

37.8%

41.7

25.3

28.3

4.1

9.3

07/16/09

63.1%

36.9%

42.2

24.7

25.9

4.3

12.0

07/09/09

64.8%

35.2%

43.5

23.6

26.6

3.6

13.3

07/02/09

67.8%

32.2%

45.6

21.7

26.5

6.2

12.9

06/25/09

67.4%

32.6%

45.4

22.0

26.2

6.1

13.1

06/18/09

72.7%

27.3%

50.3

18.9

25.5

11.1

13.7

06/11/09

70.7%

29.3%

47.6

19.7

25.3

9.6

12.7

06/04/09

67.5%

32.5%

45.4

21.9

25.8

7.8

11.8

 

TOTAL AREA – Averages

Dates

% Closed To Access

% Open

To  Access

Miles

Closed

To  Access

Open

ORV&Ped

(NPS)

Open

Ped Only

(NPS)

Limited

Access

(NPS)

Closed

(NPS)

Jun to Now

66.3%

33.7%

44.6

22.7

26.3

6.4

11.9

Jul 2009

63.7%

36.3%

42.7

24.3

26.8

4.7

11.2

Jun 2009

69.6%

30.4%

47.2

20.6

25.7

8.7

12.8

  On the birthday of our nation, America’s first National Seashore welcomed visitors by closing 67.8% of its beaches to ORV use and 20% to all human use. The most popular beaches at the Seashore were not only closed for July 4th, but for the entire months of May, June and July.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Resource Management Reports
 2008 & 2009 thru 8/7/2009 (Summaries)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piping Plover (PIPL) Summary:  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Nests to Date

Total Pairs to Date

Active Nests

Total Nests Hatched

Total Nests Lost

Total Eggs

Total Eggs Hatched

Unfledged Chicks

Lost Chicks

Fledged Chicks

As of 8/7/2009

9

9

0

6

3

42

19

0

13

6

As of 8/6/2008

13

11

0

8

5

?

22

0

15

7

Full Year 2008

13

11

n\a

8

5

43

22

n\a

15

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Oystercatchers (AMOY) Summary: (includes Green Island)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Nests to Date

Active Nests

Nests Hatched

Nests Lost

Total Chicks Hatched

Unfledged Chicks

Chicks Lost

Fledged Chicks

 

 

As of 8/7/2009

31

0

15

16

31

2

17

12

 

 

As of 8/6/2008

32

0

13

19

24

2

7

15

 

 

Full Year 2008

32

n\a

13

19

24

0

7

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Turtle Summary:  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nests

Digs

False Crawls

 

Ratio of False Crawls to Nests

 

 

 

 

 

As of 8/7/2009

95

0

98

 

1.03:1

 

 

 

 

 

As of 8/6/2008

101

1

92

 

0.91:1

 

 

 

 

 

Full Year 2008

112

0

103

 

.92:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source is page 6 of CHNS 2008 Sea Turtle Annual Report

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Predator Removal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2002-2007

2007

 

 

 

 

Wildlife

NPS Resource

 

 

 

 

Services

 Mgt. Staff

2008

2009

Totals

Species

 

 

 

 

 

Feral Dog

1

0

0

 

1

Feral Cat

26

38

53

 

117

Raccoon

133

101

77

 

311

Mink

0

1

31

 

32

Opossum

46

57

60

 

163

Muskrat

0

1

1

 

2

Otter

0

2

5

 

7

Grey Fox

30

3

6

 

39

Red Fox

70

6

9

 

85

Nutria

0

23

49

 

72

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

305

232

291

?

828

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: 2007 & 2008 CHNS Piping Plover annual reports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 
Thursday, 04 March 2010 00:00
The effect of excessive beach closures on the residents of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands will be devastating. For several years now, the OBPA has worked hard to try and represent the best interest of residents and visitors alike in regard to beach access issues. Our goal has been to preserve and protect what has been a part of our history, our heritage, and our culture. The island communities have flourished because of the abundance of resources our beaches have provided us, and to think of life without access to those beaches is unimaginable. Unfortunately, beach closures are nothing new to us, affecting our daily island life, and viewed as a hot issue by most residents and visitors to Hatteras, Ocracoke and Bodie Islands

Current Lawsuit "Critical Habitat "

For a second time, it has been necessary to file a lawsuit to stop the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) from declaring the points and spits of Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area (CHNSRA) critical habitat for wintering piping plover. (The "Critical habitat" designation could close or heavily restrict ORV and pedestrian access for the rest of the year when nesting season closures are not in effect.)

Thanks to our membership, a coalition of supporters, fundraisers, and donations we have been able to retain legal representation to assist in this fight once again. To date we have spent over $119,000 in a lawsuit against USFWS in regard to the re-designation of "Critical Habitat for wintering piping plovers" and to which Defenders of Wildlife are the interveners. On February 4, 2010 our attorneys filed a brief with the court showing that USFWS has still not done their job in re-designation of habitat for wintering piping plovers, as required by law. USFWS, with Defenders of Wildlife, will have a chance to file a rebuttal to our suit, after which the judge may require oral arguments.

We are confident our attorneys are well prepared and have been representing our best interests as was evident in the last case against USFWS in which the judge ruled in our favor. If we win this case, we will once again be entitled to recoup a portion of the monies spent in defending our position.
DEIS

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has been released by the National Park Service (NPS). The DEIS is the document that unveils the measures proposed in managing both ORV use and protection of wildlife within CHNSRA. We are currently working on a position statement that will address aspects of the DEIS that we feel will negatively impact Congress' original intent in creating CHNSRA and its recreational areas.

Once the DEIS is released by the Park Service, it must be sent for approval to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after which there will be a public comment period of 60 days. Please take advantage of this public comment period and rationally voice your concerns about how the DEIS will impact you directly. Also, look for upcoming dates of meetings and rallies sponsored by OBPA and its coalition in several different locations during the public comment period. OBPA strongly encourages you to contact friends, family members and business contacts to get involved in this process.

Audubon, Defenders of Wildlife, and Southern Environmental Law Center have all been working very hard to shut down our beaches and change the faces of Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Bodie Islands forever. Are they really concerned about a few nesting birds or do they want human involvement removed from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area altogether? YOU BE THE JUDGE!
 
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