WASHINGTON, – With the unofficial start of summer, many are thinking about the beach. So is North Carolina’s senior senator, Richard Burr, who is taking steps to address ongoing concern about the ongoing issue of off road vehicles on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Burr made the following statement after Sen. Ron Wyden Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, committed to consider the Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act during the committee’s June mark-up.
“I am pleased that Chairman Wyden committed to giving this important bill its proper consideration before the committee,” Burr said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure its passage into law. I applaud Congressman Walter Jones and the House Committee on Natural Resources for their swift passage of the House companion bill.”
If enacted, this bill would reinstate the Interim Management Strategy governing off-road vehicle use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) and set aside current mandates and requirements that prevent off-road vehicle (ORV) and citizen access to a significant portion of this National Seashore.
In December 2005, the NPS began the negotiation process to create regulations that would allow CHNS to meet its compliance standards, and in June 2007, an Interim Management Strategy was implemented to provide a framework for regulating the CHNS while the NPS developed its long-term plan. This Interim Management
Strategy allowed for controlled ORV access to the CHNS. However, on July 17, 2007, the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society to prevent ORV use until a final management plan is established and approved by NPS filed an injunction. A settlement negotiation process ensued, and on April 30, 2008, a federal judge approved a consent decree that required all seashore ramps to be closed to ORVs from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., created buffers that are in some cases more restrictive, and ruled that deliberate violations of the buffers would result in an expanded restricted area. In February 2012, the NPS implemented final rules, requiring that ORVs must obtain permits to access the CHNS, further limiting the accessibility of the park to vehicles.