March 13, 2013

Legislative Alert: Tune in to the hearing on Preserving Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational

On March 14, 2013 at 10:00am EDST, the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation will hold a hearing on the Preserving Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Act (H.R. 819). This bill would reinstate the Interim Protected Species Management Strategy (Interim Strategy) governing off-road vehicle (ORV) use in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Tune in here at 10:00am EDST tomorrow, March 14, for a live video webcast of the hearing. The House Committee on Natural Resources will also post a copy of this webcast on their website after the hearing.

In 2007, an Interim Strategy was developed as a temporary compromise until an ORV management plan could be finalized. This Interim Strategy provided protections for wildlife while at the same time allowing for access to some of the most popular recreation areas in the park. However, this reasonable and science-based plan was cast aside and the National Park Service (NPS) approved a much more restrictive ORV plan that went into effect on February 15, 2012; the plan closes extensive areas of the seashore to the public and severely limits ORV access, far outweighing what is needed to address resource protection.

The sportfishing community cares about the conservation of our nation’s natural resources – including those at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. We believe strongly that reasonable access to the beaches can be provided for ORVs while protecting nesting shorebirds and other wildlife. ORV access is essential for surf fishing from beaches at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. The recently completed ORV management plan severely restricts access to the most popular areas of the seashore far beyond what is needed for fish and wildlife resource management. In implementing the ORV management plan, the Park Service ignored the numerous comments of the sportfishing community and local residents, whose lives and livelihoods are taking a direct hit from lack of access. The plan not only threatens sportfishing in the park, but the seashore’s local economy, which is largely dependent upon tourism and recreation.

This legislation is needed to provide relief to this community by requiring the park to be managed under the Interim Strategy until a more reasonable and balanced final ORV plan is developed. Seven members of the recreational fishing community – including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) – sent a letter on March 12 to the original bill sponsors Senators Richard Burr and CSC Co-Chair Kay Hagan (S. 486) and Representative Walter Jones (H.R. 819) expressing support for this legislation. As H.R. 819 and S. 486 advance in the 113th Congress, CSF will continue to keep you appraised.

For more information on access to Cape Hatteras National Sea Shore, please click here.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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