Under the Dome

Burr, Hagan join Jones in opposing curbs on Hatteras beach driving

North Carolina's two U.S. senators announced legislation Thursday to roll back limits on beach driving -- and walking -- at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and a House subcommittee planned a hearing Friday morning on a similar bill filed earlier by U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones.

This spring the National Park Service started requiring anglers and other Outer Banks visitors to buy permits ($50 per week or $120 per year) for driving at beach locations where vehicles are still allowed.  The new restrictions are the outgrowth of a lawsuit by environmental groups and a consent decree aimed mostly at protecting the nests of rare shorebirds.  In recent weeks, the park service has closed some beach areas to pedestrians as well as vehicles after bird nesting behavior was observed.

The Senate bill announced by Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan would restore less restrictive rules that were implemented in 2007. In a press release, Burr said:

“Restricting ORV use on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore has a negative impact on local communities and the local economy. We must ensure that our state’s residents have access to North Carolina’s scenic treasures, and I am confident we can come to a compromise that allows people to have access while at the same time addressing any potential environmental concerns.”

Witnesses at the House subcommittee hearing Friday will include Jones, a National Park Service official, John Couch of the Outer Banks Preservation Association, and Warren Judge of the Dare County commissioners.

--Bruce Siceloff, staff writer


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Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area

It is not a question of rolling back limits on beach driving and walking.  It is an issue of access.  The special interest groups have paralyzed the NPS into a rule which is excessive and punitive.  There is over 40 miles of beaches closed.  Dare County has always advocated for the protection of wildlife and the free and open access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.  We have advocated for active management, not a total lock out, we have advocated for Peer Review fact based science for the protection of all species, not the whim of lobbyists for the special interest groups, and we have advocated for access for all, not what we have today in the National Seashore, where you will find that children, physically challenged persons and the elderly and not welcomed because of the extreme distances you will need to walk to get to the waters edge.  60 miles of shoreline, with 11 access points and 805 parking spaces to accommodate 5000 residents and a daily visitor population of 50,000 during the season.  Thank You, Warren Judge

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