NPS Announces Public Scoping Meetings to Consider Changes to ORV Rule

Section 3057, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area was passed in December, 2014 as part of The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. On July 20, NPS announced the scheduling of public scoping meetings between August 6 and August 12 to consider changes to the 2012 Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area ORV Rule as required by the new law.  Specifically, NPS will consider changes to three specific areas of the Rule.

  • Morning Opening of ORV access routes during summer months

The rule currently designates ORV routes to be closed from 9:00 pm until 7:00 am.  The new law requires that the utilization of a rolling schedule be considered to allow access earlier than 7:00 am.  The expectation is that NPS would schedule turtle patrols to be completed prior to 7:00 am on selected beaches to facililtate this change.

CHAPA believes greater early morning access will significantly improve the visitor experience at a time of year when sunrise occurs well before 6:00 am.  A rolling schedule, or changing the opening time for all ORV access, will facilitate important visitor activities currently not available.

  • Dates for Seasonal Closures

The rule currently designates that many ORV routes will be closed to ORV access from April 1 until October 31.  These are called seasonal routes. The new law requires that consideration be given to opening the routes to ORV access earlier in the fall and closing the routes later in the spring in order to lengthen the time ORV access is available each year.

CHAPA believes that the shoulder seasons, (early/mid fall and early/mid spring) offer visitor activities that are highly dependent on ORV access and that earlier opening in the fall and later closing in the spring will provide significant benefits.

  • Vehicle Free Areas

The rule currently designates approximately 26 miles of seashore as Vehicle Free Areas.  The law requires that consideration be given to changes in the designation of Vehicle Free Areas.

CHAPA believes a number of Vehicle Free Areas result in lost access to activities valued by visitors, significantly and negatively affecting the visitor experience.  We believe these areas are candidates to be reclassified as either seasonal routes or year round ORV routes.

CHAPA urges you to attend one of the public scoping meetings and to be prepared to voice you opinion on these important topics.

We expect, although we are not certain, that NPS will announce a public comment period for written comments.  We will keep you informed as we learn more about the process NPS will follow to complete their assessment of changes to the ORV rule.  We also urge you to participate in all phases of the process as they occur.  This is your opportunity to make a difference in what happens at Cape Hatteras in the future.

CHAPA will also prepare and present recommendations to the NPS and we will share them with you at a future date.

The NPS press release announcing the dates and locations for the scoping meetings follows.


John Couch

President OBPA



 Save the Dates

Public Scoping Meetings Scheduled to Consider Changes to

Cape Hatteras National Seashore's Off-Road Vehicle Special Regulation

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is holding public scoping meetings to consider changes to the Seashore's Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) special regulation as it relates to morning opening of beaches, extending the length of fall and spring seasonal ORV routes, and modifying the size and location of vehicle free areas.  Public scoping will help inform the development of alternatives that will be analyzed in an Environmental Assessment (EA).  The EA will be prepared in response to the Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2015 (Public Law 113-291) pertaining to the Seashore's Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Management Plan.

 The five public meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • August 5, 2015, 5:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. - Ocracoke School, 1 Schoolhouse Road

Ocracoke Island, NC  27960

  • August 6, 2015, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - McKimmon Conference & Training Center, 1101 Gorman Street, NC State University Campus, Raleigh, NC  27695
  • August 10, 2015, 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. -Cape Hatteras Secondary School, 48576 Hwy 12, Buxton, NC  27920
  • August 11, 2015, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Hilton Garden Inn, 5353 Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC  27949
  • August 12, 2015, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. - Embassy Suites Hampton Inn, 1700 Coliseum Drive, Hampton, VA  23666

Additional information on the Public Scoping and EA process will be provided in advance of the public meetings.  More information can be found on the Seashore's webpage at:


For general information on the Outer Banks Group national parks, visit,,; Twitter: @CapeHatterasNPS, @WrightBrosNPS, @FortRaleighNPS; or call 252-473-2111.