ACTION ALERT UPDATE: If Senate Bill S 486 bill is passed on Tuesday, the mandated regulation that balances the protection of wildlife with use of the beach for recreation will disappear and protections for wildlife will go with it.
We have been too quiet – it is time to make some noise if we value a reasonable management plan carefully crafted by many and supported by science. Please don’t stay silent and let a minority dictate the rules for this National treasure!
Several years ago a new management plan for Cape Hatteras National Seashore was crafted to provide a balance between beach driving, pedestrians and wildlife. It was supported in most comments the National Park Service received, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Geological Survey. The plan allows beach driving on 41 of the 67 miles of the Seashore either year-round or seasonally.
Since the plan went into effect both tourism and nesting sea turtles have set records and beach nesting birds have rebounded.
Unfortunately, a small, but vocal, group of ORV users has convinced both Senators Hagan and Burr to sponsor legislation, SB 486, that rescinds the present plan and returns to the situation of virtually no management, where families, turtles and birds were seriously impacted by beach drivers.
Federal law mandates that national parks have management plans that balance wildlife, recreational uses and vehicle access. SB 486 would violate that mandate.
This bill comes up in committee in just days, and must stop there.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT- ACT NOW
What You Can Do:
- Call both Senators Burr and Hagan and ask them to pull SB 486 from consideration. Hagan: 202-224-6342 & Burr: 202-224-3154.
- Email your opposition to the bill
- Visit our blog to find out what else you can do before 5:00 PM ON MONDAY, JUNE 17!
History of the Regulation:
In January 2012, the National Park Service announced new rules to manage off-road vehicle traffic on beaches so nesting and baby sea turtles and birds as well as pedestrians are protected in Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Read an editorial in the Virginian-Pilot about the new plan: Hatteras still open for business
Background on Cape Hatteras National Seashore:
Every year more than two million people visit Cape Hatteras National Seashore on North Carolina's outer Banks to enjoy its natural beauty, serenity, wildlife and recreational opportunities, and the numbers are rising.
Decades of unregulated beach driving pushed the birds at Cape Hatteras National Seashore — a globally significant Important Bird Area — to the brink. Populations of waterbirds that nest on the Seashore's beaches, like Least Terns and Black Skimmers, plummeted 84% from 1997 to 2007. Rare sea turtles were also suffering alarming declines. In the fall of 2007 National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and Southern Environmental Law Center successfully pushed for a temporary science-based management plan, which, in just five years, has enabled these birds and turtles to make a comeback.
In 2011 nesting birds and sea turtles continued their recovery under the science-based protection guidelines developed by the conservation partners. 147 sea turtle nests were recorded on the seashore in 2011, approaching the all-time record of 153 nests set in 2010. Nesting terns, skimmers, plovers and oystercatchers have also continued their success.
In July 2011 the National Park Service proposed new, permanent regulations for off-road vehicle use on the Seashore's beaches that jeopardize much-needed wildlife protections and put the future for birds like the Piping Plover, Least Tern, Black Skimmer, and many other shorebird species in doubt. The proposed regulation will control what happens at Cape Hatteras for decades and set a precedent for other national parks. As written, the regulation does not mandate specific, science-based protections for the wildlife that depends on the Seashore and it provides only a few areas for families to safely enjoy vehicle-free beaches.
The partner conservation organizations coordinated a citizen response to the proposed regulation and also submitted detailed comments to the National Park Service. The groups are working to insure that the Park Service will revise the plan so that it guarantees adequate space and protections for wildlife, while still allowing responsible beach driving in some areas so that all visitors can fully enjoy this national treasure.
Photo of Cape Hatteras National Seashore: © Sidney Maddock