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.
HAGAN COMMENTS ON FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR CAPE HATTERAS NATIONAL SEASHORE
National Park Service report covers off-road vehicle usage on the Seashore
Monday, November 15, 2010 WASHINGTON, D.C. -
U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan today commented on the Final Environmental Impact Statement issued by the National Park Service on off-road vehicle usage at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Last August, Hagan cosponsored the Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act, which would reinstate the Interim Management Plan for off-road vehicles at the Seashore. This plan allows for expanded beach access while balancing important environmental concerns. "Beach access is critical to the Dare County economy, and this report overly restricts access to the Hatteras beaches. And it does not appear to reflect the input of local residents and businesses. The Hatteras community has now experienced three summers with many of the most popular beaches closed, and I am very concerned that some local businesses may not survive another. "I co-sponsored legislation that would resolve this issue by reinstating the Interim Management Plan. It appropriately balances environmental concerns with beach access. I will continue working with my colleagues and all relevant stakeholders to provide beach access and protect the environment."
Contact Senator Hagan and let her know how you feel about access at Cape Hatteras.....use the link below: http://hagan.senate.got/contact/
For Immediate Release For more information contact:
Nov 24, 2010 John Couch
Access Organizations Review the Final Environmental Impact Statement
Access organizations are conducting a comprehensive analysis of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area released by the National Park Service November 15, 2010.
The Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA), North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA), the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club and others are currently evaluating the massive FEIS document, which is in excess of 1,000 pages. In the FEIS, the National Park Service cites Alternative F as their preferred plan for managing access to the seashore for the next 10 to 15 years.
Following a preliminary review of the FEIS, access organizations believe it misapplies visitation use within the seashore and places a heavy economic burden on the local community and visiting population. John Couch, OBPA President said, "The expanded closures in Alternative F will forever close untenable portions of this recreational area and deny access to the aged, disabled, handicapped and very young visitors."
The enabling legislation that established America's first national seashore in 1937 directed the Park Service to fulfill a dual mandate of protecting natural resources while promoting present and future recreational opportunities. Couch explained, "Alternative F calls for overreaching resource protection and most importantly places a cloud of economic uncertainty upon the citizens of Dare and Hyde counties. The Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, located within the seashore, contains an additional 13 miles of resource and wilderness protection and should be included as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area visitor experience."
Access organizations call upon the National Park Service to reconsider the economic impact data to avoid leading the state of North Carolina down a destructive path of economic uncertainty. Couch added, "We can all share in North Carolina's most treasured assets and fully support resource protection that is based on peer-reviewed science while balancing the mandate for reasonable recreational access."
Next, the National Park Service will release a Record of Decision on the FEIS and then publish a proposed ORV rule, which will be followed by a 60-day period for public comments. Couch concluded, "We must all prepare to make public comments on the ORV Rule as soon as it is released. This could be the last opportunity for the public to speak out in favor of access." Visit www.OBPA.org for more information and how you can help.
Final Environmental Impact Statement
November 15, 2010 - The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area was released today by the National Park Service. The document follows the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) which was released earlier this year and received extensive public comment. There will not be a public comment period on the FEIS. However, there is a 30-day waiting period before a Record of Decision (ROD) can be issued. Sometime after release of the Record of Decision, Superintendent Mike Murray will publish a Proposed ORV Rule based upon the FEIS. This will then be followed by a 60-day public comment period.
To read FEIS Click Here...
The POP’s RAW BAR fundraiser for beach access on Sunday November 21 was a rousing success. $6,300 was raised to help in the fight to preserve pedestrian and ORV access to the beaches within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. POP’s was packed all afternoon and a good time was had by all. Special thanks to Pops Raw Bar and Heather and her staff, Dillons Corner and Quality Pools, for their hard work in pulling off this special event. Vendors and businesses contributed mightly, and special recognition to all who support ' Beach Access' !!
Be sure to stop by POP’s and express your appreciation for their support