Legislation to Remove ORV Control at Hatteras Inspired by Lies

This just in from Derb Carter of the Southern Environmental Law Center:

ORV Lobby: We, the people, spoke as a virtually unanimous voice in recommending practical solutions for management of the seashore. However, the National Park Service did not listen to the clearly expressed will of the people and incorporate our concerns and suggestions.

Carter: The vast majority of the public comments on the DEIS/proposed plan and proposed special regulation supported restriction and management of ORV use to protect wildlife and create vehicle free areas for pedestrians.

ORV Lobby: It has been our longstanding position that people and wildlife can live in harmony and that reasonable recreational access is consistent with proper resource management.

Carter: Breeding birds were declining and disappearing from the Seashore beaches prior to the emergency measures put in place four years ago. The legislation would return the Seashore to this management, which is not consistent with proper resource management or the laws governing management of these public lands.

ORV Lobby: NO FEES FOR ORV PERMITS

Carter: Other National Seashores require permits for ORVs and charge fees. Why should Cape Hatteras be different? In just over two months under the new plan, 3400 ORV users have purchased permits.

ORV Lobby: Dare County has long supported giving flexibility to the Superintendent.

Carter: Because it has worked so well in politically intimidating the Superintendent to do their bidding or drumming them out if they do not get in line. The Park Service needs rules for clarity, consistency, and to avoid the political haggling that has infested the Superintendent’s job at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

ORV Lobby: Therefore, Dare County believes pass through corridors should be maintained for pedestrians and ORVs in all areas of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area throughout the entire breeding and nesting season.

Carter: “ORV Corridors” was the approach to management prior to the emergency wildlife measures instituted in 2008. This approach separates the nesting areas from the feeding areas and resulted in the precipitous declines and disappearance of breeding shorebirds in the nesting areas on the Seashore.

ORV Lobby: The consent decree has taken a heavy toll on a wide range of business types including - automotive parts & repair, bait & tackle shops, campgrounds, charitable service providers, child care centers, fishing rod builders, marinas, motels and cottages, professional artists, restaurants, and retail shops.

Carter: Those claiming adverse economic impacts from the ORV restrictions provide only anecdotes and no objective measure to support these claims. Objective measures show visitation to the Seashore increased since the emergency ORV restrictions were put in place four years ago. Occupancy of campgrounds, cottages, motels as measured and reported by Dare County in its tax reports increased since the emergency ORV restrictions. Objective measures suggest the ORV restrictions may actually be improving the economy of the area which depends on tourism.

ORV Lobby: The Consent Decree, prepared by a few special interest groups behind closed doors, was never exposed to the light of public comment and review. Although Dare County was a party to the Consent Decree as an intervener, for NPS to imply that Dare County was in any way in agreement with the Consent Decree is disingenuous.

Carter: This is one of the most frustrating things about this entire matter. Attorneys for the environmental groups met for hours and hours with Dare County/CHAPA attorneys Outten (Dare County Attorney) and Liebesman to negotiate the consent decree. There are parts that are in there because Dare County and the ORV groups insisted. The Dare County and ORV lawyer encouraged the court to adopt it.

ORV Lobby: The Piping Plover is a non-indigenous “threatened” species that is not “endangered.” Words have meaning. NPS has chosen to describe this bird in a way that creates a false and misleading impression to the American people.

Carter: Breeding piping plovers are threatened, wintering piping plovers are from endangered and threatened populations. Under the ESA threatened species are managed as endangered. Both threatened and endangered piping plovers are indigenous to Hatteras Island.

ORV Lobby: Dare County supports science-based resource management and believes a careful balance between protection and access is provided in the Interim Management Strategy that would be reinstituted upon passage of H.R. 4094.

Carter: If the County supports science-based resource management it should support the final plan which is based on the peer-reviewed recommendations of wildlife management scientists on a moderate (not maximum) level of resource protection that can give wildlife a chance to thrive on the Seashore.