Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance
PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2012
Congressman Jones Introduces Bill to Restore Access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area
North Carolina Congressman Walter B. Jones today introduced House Bill H.R. 4094 to preserve pedestrian and motorized vehicular access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Access to the seashore is now severely limited due to the implementation of the Final Rule from the National Park Service, which went into effect on February 15, 2012. The controversial rule was issued by the Park Service in spite of an outpouring of public comments in support of reasonable recreational access.
H.R. 4094 follows a lawsuit that has been filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance (CHAPA), a grassroots project initiated by the Outer Banks Preservation Association committed to balancing recreational access with resource management. For over thirty years, OBPA has worked to maintain the seashore as intended by Congress when the first National Seashore Recreational Area was established. Preserving the traditional and cultural values of the seashore has been a fundamental principle of the group, which represents people throughout the United States.
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area has been a popular destination for American families seeking affordable, family oriented beach vacation. Under the Final Rule access to some of the most popular areas is no longer available. This has restricted access for many, including the disabled and elderly, and caused financial harm to the communities surrounding the seashore.
CHAPA President, John Couch, expressed gratitude to Congressman Jones for introducing H.R. 4094. He said, “We appreciate the efforts of Congressman Jones and the leadership he has shown for preserving access to this American treasure, so it can continue to be used by the people for its intended recreational purpose.”
Jim Keene, a Director of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association emphasized the importance of people getting involved throughout the United States. He explained, “The Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area is controlled by Congress. That is why it is vital that people everyone contact their elected leaders in Washington now and ask them to support House Bill H.R. 4094.
P.O. Box 1355
Buxton ,NC 27920
Director, North Carolina Beach Buggy Association
The Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance (CHAPA)is a project of the Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA), which is dedicated to preserving and protecting a lifestyle historically prevalent on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and specifically at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area (CHNSRA).With over 10,000 active members (representing over 38 states and Canada), OBPA and CHAPA work to protect and preserve local beaches within a framework of free and open beach access for all users, including properly licensed drivers and vehicles.
CHAPA Files Complaint Against NPS
Local Community Group Challenges New National Park Service Off-Road Vehicle Restrictions at Cape Hatteras
Proper review of alternatives and socioeconomic impacts required, says group’s filing
Buxton, NC (February 9, 2012) – The Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance (CHAPA) today filed suit challenging the National Park Service’s (NPS) issuance of a new management plan and special rule regulating off-road vehicle (ORV) use at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. The lawsuit seeks to prohibit NPS from imposing severe new restrictions on ORV use within the Recreational Area in accordance with the agency’s recently released Cape Hatteras ORV Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement and Special Regulations governing ORV management at the Recreational Area.
Since before the establishment of the Recreational Area, ORV access to and over the beaches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks has been fundamental to the use and enjoyment of the area by residents, visitors, and local businesses. “The Park Service’s new ORV management plan and rules, if implemented, will have a devastating effect on our unique, local shore-oriented culture and economy,” said John Couch, President of the Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA). “The OBPA and CHAPA have fought to keep the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area beaches free and open to residents and visitors since 1977. OBPA and CHAPA continuously have maintained that reasonable ORV access and bird and turtle species protection are not mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, the Park Service overlooked reasonable recommendations and information that OBPA and CHAPA put forth during the planning process that would have resulted in an ORV management plan and rules that both protect wildlife resources and ensure reasonable ORV access to and over the area’s beaches.”
Throughout the ORV planning and rulemaking process, CHAPA’s goal has been to work with NPS to develop a comprehensive ORV use and management plan that will meet the concerns of protecting the Recreational Area’s resources without compromising the distinctive lifestyle and economic health of the islands that make up the Outer Banks. CHAPA has advocated the protection and preservation of Seashore beaches within a framework of responsible and meaningful access to the ocean beaches and sound for all users, including pedestrians and properly licensed drivers and their vehicles.
According to the complaint filed by CHAPA in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the imposition of new, severe restrictions was “foreordained from the time that NPS began its planning process.” As set forth in the complaint, the Park Service’s planning and environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act was plagued by a series of failures. These include, among others: a failure to give meaningful consideration to views, data, or information that were contrary to NPS’s desire to impose more severe restrictions on ORV access and use; a failure to look at reasonable alternatives, including smaller and more flexible buffer and closure areas; and a failure to properly assess impacts on the local economy. The complaint asks the court to determine that NPS acted improperly and to prevent NPS from implementing its final ORV management plan and rules.
The Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance (CHAPA) is a project of the Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA), which is dedicated to preserving and protecting a lifestyle historically prevalent on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and specifically at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area (CHNSRA). With over 10,000 active members (representing over 38 states and Canada), OBPA and CHAPA work to protect and preserve local beaches within a framework of free and open beach access for all users, including properly licensed drivers and vehicles.
Director, North Carolina Beach Buggy Association
Thank you to all who commented to the National Park Service during the official proposed rule comment period which ended on September 19. The comments submitted by the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance on the nineteenth were also endorsed by the following organizations: Dare County Board of Commissioners; Hyde County Board of Commissioners; Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce; Cape Hatteras Business Allies; Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association – Board of Directors; Ocracoke Civic and Business Association; Hatteras Village Civic Association; American Sportfishing Association; Avon Property Owners Association; United Mobile Access Preservation Alliance; Watersports Industry Association; United Four Wheel Drive Associations; Recreational Fishing Alliance; Kinnakeet Shores Property Owners Association; Greater Kinnakeet Shores Homeowners, Inc.; Cape Hatteras Anglers Club; Outer Banks Preservation Association; North Carolina Beach Buggy Association; Coastal Conservation Association North Carolina. The comments may be reviewed at http://obpa-nc.org/Rule/CHAPA_Rule_Response.pdf
Many significant issues and concerns have been raised by the public and must be addressed by the National Park Service before a final rule is published and implemented. Based on the timeline previously announced by the NPS, the final rule is expected by mid-November. It remains to be seen if the NPS will adequately modify the rule to make it acceptable. The OBPA will carefully review information as it becomes available and will continue to evaluate options to pursue that will ensure free and open access to the beaches within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. We will advise you when additional information becomes available from the NPS.
The following information may prove useful as you prepare your comments.
Comments to NPS @ Cape Hatteras National Seashore
ORV PROPOSED RULE (RIN 1024-AD85)
The public comment period is opened to receive your comments on the proposed ORV RULE (36 CFR Part 7 – SPECIAL REGULATIONS, AREAS OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM, paragraph 7.58 Cape Hatteras National Seashore). The proposed regulation is available at the following sites; www.parkplanning.nps.gov/documentslist.CFM?projectID=10641, www.islandfreepress.org, www.NCBBA.org, www.obpa.org, www.preservebeachaccess.org, and multiple blogs and websites.
This summarily written document is less than 3 pages (excluding the introduction, definitions and questions & answers). The NPS document spells out rules for ORV Operations and ORV Routes and Areas, therefore your comments should be directed to the document as written and/or that which you believe has been left out or ignored. Comments should propose specific solutions where at all possible.
We suggest that upon reading this document, you note those parts most objectionable to you and your response should be written accordingly. We will not publish a form letter since this type of response will be ignored by the NPS/DOI readers.
Some of the more obviously objectionable items included in the “Proposed Rule” are:
(c) (2) ORV Permits., While we will not support permits/fees, if they are instituted by the superintendent, he should limit their cost to a minimal amount that could be readily afforded by the average citizen. A visitor to this Seashore should not have to consider the cost of a permit when budgeting his/her family vacation. The $150-$200+ permit costs @ some seashores is uncalled for in this Recreational Area. Any permit should be readily available on the internet, the NPS could not possibly process the volume of visitors arriving on a sunny Saturday in mid-summer thus creating unintended closures.
(c) (7) Special use permits…. (iii) Transportation of mobility impaired individuals, We appreciate a permit being made available but to immediately remove the vehicle presents a safety issue for the impaired person. The driver must be allowed to keep the vehicle conveniently parked to allow a quick and orderly transport from the beach if the need should arise.
(c) (9) ORV Routes …. Review the table DESIGNATED ROUTES, understand what this will do to limit the access to your traditionally, favorite areas whether they be for fishing, shelling, surfing, swimming or family recreating area. Write what is in your heart, without anger but be explicit.
While the chart references ramps 2.5, 32.5, 47.5, 59.5 and several interdunal roads, no mention is made of how or when these routes will be constructed. Money is very slow coming from Washington (as evidenced in the recent end to the work On Bodie Island Lighthouse). Nothing should be closed unless or until these infrastructures are in place and usable. Parking areas must also be constructed to enable parking for all of the vehicles denied the right to park at favored areas.
VFA’s should not be permanently designated areas and only instituted when found necessary by the Superintendent [ie, (10) Superintendent’s closures…..]. VFA’s (Vehicle Free Areas, a new term being used and implemented within this Proposed Rule) will require additional off beach parking for those who chose to be pedestrians within the VFA’s. If experience shows that VFA’s are not being regularly used by a justifiable number of pedestrians these VFA’s could/should be reopened for ORV use.
This RULE should provide latitude to the Superintendent to adaptively alter designated routes, including the designation of new routes, to recognize the ever changing landscape of the beaches due to natural events and visitor use patterns.
ORV use during the village winter season…; the dates for winter season should not be fixed by the Rule but rather be cooperatively determined annually by the Superintendent, the NCDOT, Dare County officials and Hyde County officials.
(c) (12) Night Driving Restrictions. This is a restriction based on supposition rather than science and should not be included. Never was there a reported incident of a turtle death, caused by a vehicle, until 2010 with night driving restrictions already in place.
File your comments via one of the following:
DATES: The public comment period will be open for 60 days. Comments must be received on or before midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) on Tuesday, September 6, 2011. The NPS does not anticipate extending the public comment period beyond September 6 due to a court deadline for completing the final rule.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the Proposed Rule, identified by the Regulation Identifier Number: (RIN) 1024-AD85, by any of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments
Mail or hand deliver to: Superintendent, Cape Hatteras National Seashore,
1401 National Park Drive, Manteo, North Carolina 27954.
Comments submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal:
http://www.regulations.gov or submitted by mail must be entered or postmarked before midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) September 6, 2011.
Comments submitted by hand delivery must be received by the close of business hours (5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time) September 6, 2011.
Comments will not be accepted by fax, email, or in any way other than those specified above, and bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: All submissions received must include the agency name, (National Park Service) and RIN for this rulemaking: 1024-AD85. All comments received through the Federal ERulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov will be available without change. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment including your personal identifying information may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. To view comments received through the Federal eRulemaking portal, go to http://www.regulations.gov and enter “1024-AD85” in the “Keyword or ID” search box.
For further information, call NPS @ 252-473-2111, ext. 148.