Many have called and asked me "so what is the next step and where do we go from here"? This of course, relates to the introduction of a bill in the House of Representatives yesterday by the Honorable Walter B. Jones of North Carolina.
Irene Nolan of Island Free Press put together a quick run down of the bill and the history of legislative efforts to prevent the destruction of our way of life and heritage of our Seashore that can be found at:
Included in her story is a link to the actual bill which is located at:
The Bill has been quickly assigned a number, HR 4094 and has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee. It was in this same committee that the first attempt at restoring reasonable access to this Seashore was defeated by a vote that went straight down party lines.
Many have become rather excited about the petition mentioned in Irene's article which is now close to 13,000 signatures in not quite two weeks..and for good reason. It shows tremendous displeasure by the residents and visitors to this Seashore (not a park) relevant on what has clearly become an effort by the Park Service to discourage visitation and decimate the economies of the islands.
In short, they don't want us, the very people that own this Seashore, on what they consider to be their beach. This, in spite of the Congressional mandate dictating to NPS that this area is for recreational use "which shall be developed for such uses as needed".
So, you want to help?
The first thing needed regarding this bill, HR 4094, is co-sponsors of the bill itself. One of the most simple ways to do this is to look up the email address of your local House (not Senate) representative, write a short paragraph asking them to co-sponsor HR 4094 and then explain why it is important to you and your family. You can also go to the petition site, after writing the paragraph asking for co-sponsorship and copy and past the petition letter. It reads:
We, the undersigned, do faithfully petition the Congress for immediate relief in matters regarding the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, North Carolina.
We humbly ask also for relief from the actions undertaken by Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, Jonathan Jarvis, Director, National Park Service, Michael B. Murray, Superintendent, Cape Hatteras National Seashore recreational Area and others.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore was authorized by an act of congress (16USC459) in 1937. Within this legislation is contained a mandate to the Park Service that states specifically “which shall be developed for such uses as needed” relevant to recreational activities. Amended in 1940, it became known as Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area and was set aside and dedicated “for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people”.
In 1952, the present Director of the National Park Service, Conrad Wirth, published a letter to the residents of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands in the Coastland Times, wherein he described that the Secretary of the Interior had expanded the boundaries of the villages within the Seashore to accommodate the growth necessary to cope with the anticipated visitation levels, that ramps would be constructed to facilitate vehicular access to the beach and protect the dunes, and that the people would always have access to the beaches.
Subsequently, two Executive Orders were issued by Presidents Nixon (11644) and Carter (11989) meant to manage off road vehicle (ORV) use on lands managed by the Park Service. In both cases, the Park Service was given six months to determine which areas would be open or closed to ORV use and in every instance, NPS left virtually the entire beach system, the area of the Seashore most adaptable for recreational use, open. President Carters order went one step further and relayed to NPS that they were not to close an ORV route unless they could show that it either is causing or will cause “considerable” adverse effects to the resource. For over 70 years, the Park service has not been able to satisfy this requirement in order to justify closing ORV access to any portion of this Seashore.
In 1978, the Congress passed an additional amendment to the Organic Act, where the enabling legislation for the Seashore is found. Specifically 16USC459 section 1a.1 otherwise known as the Redwoods Amendment, which forbids the Park Service from conducting any activity that would result in significant derogation of the mission established by congress for this area without “direct and specific” authorization from congress; which the Park Service does not possess.
On February 15th of 2012 the National Park Service began the implementation of a new management directive for the Seashore under the auspices of an Off Road Vehicle management plan. This “plan”, will in truth, do nothing more than discourage the visitation upon which the economies of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, depend.
Whereas, the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior have violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Administrative Procedures Act as well as the Organic Act.
And, they readily admit that nearly 100% of the financial impact will be felt by the villages surrounded by the Seashore,
And, that the newly instituted fee based access system applies only to one user group (ORV users), requiring those wishing to take their family vehicles on the beach to pay a fee to support the infrastructure for pedestrian only visitors,
And that NPS does not have the infrastructure in place to handle permits during the busy Spring, Summer and Fall seasons,
And, that NPS has determined vehicle carrying capacity limits which will prevent visitors from accessing the Seashore,
And, that major portions of the most popular beaches contained within the Seashore are being closed to ORV traffic in violation of E.O. 11989 as mentioned above,
And, That NPS does not have the funding to construct the facilities necessary to implement this new “rule”,
And, that NPS chooses to eliminate all access to the most popular areas of the Seashore, notably the inlets, Oregon, Hatteras and Ocracoke without any sound scientific basis for doing so,
And that NPS has not satisfied the requirements set forth within the National Environmental Procedures Act which would qualify this Seashore as a Traditional Cultural Property though the traditional use patterns and significance far exceed the parameters set forth within NEPA.
And, that NPS records indicate that better than 97% of all harm to wildlife has been the result of storms and predation, not human interaction,
And, that the prohibition on night driving on our beaches is purely supposition and not based upon sound, peer reviewed science,
And that the NPS and DOI have killed thousands of animals on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands in the name of species protection and or overcrowding as was the case when USFWS eliminated, in a gas chamber, literally thousands of geese at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge,
And, that in spite of the recommendations forwarded to NPS by Gordon Meyers, Chairman of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, NPS continues to plan for Endangered Species Act protection levels for non-endangered, non-threatened birds, which Meyers said were unnecessary,
And, that NPS has designated Vehicle Free Areas, for pedestrian use only, which almost perfectly overlap areas known to be closed throughout the nesting season for these same non-endangered, non-threatened bird species thereby effectively eliminating any access within these areas,
And, that is has become clear that NPS seeks to severely limit visitation to the Seashore by implementing these draconian measures which will in effect, turn this Recreational Seashore into a wildlife sanctuary in spite of the directives issued by congress and the inability to show harm to this resource or it’s wildlife.
It is for these reasons and others that we humbly beseech the Member of the House and Senate to provide relief from these draconian restrictions.
We ask that NPS be firmly reminded that their primary mission at this Seashore is to develop this area for recreational use as needed as outlined in 16USC459 sec.3.
We also ask that NPS be remanded for violation of 16USC459 sec.1a-1 as they have no direct and specific authorization from congress to derogate from the mission established for this area.
We ask that NPS be required to fully consider this area as a Traditional Cultural Property as express within the NEPA guidelines.
We also ask that any process of permitting beach driving should be free of charge to the American Public in order to limit user conflict and discriminatory penalty.
We also ask that beach driving be restored on a year round basis throughout the night and day regardless of the time of year except, with proven science, such restrictions are in place only to protect species covered by the Endangered Species Act.
We ask that closures be limited to the absolute minimum so as to satisfy the original intent of congress.
We ask that the new “rule” established by NPS be discarded in favor of a more responsible, user friendly regulation that no longer discourages visitation to the Seashore.
We ask that NPS be required to prove real harm or “injury in fact” rather than provide speculation and that sound, legally peer reviewed science be used in such decisions.
With measures such as these in place, the people of this nation will once again be able to enjoy their Seashore without fear of being turned away and the economies of Hatteras and Ocracoke may eventually recover. As things stand now, over sixty businesses have failed since NPS began its assault on our Seashore and over 500 homes have gone into foreclosure. A rather staggering statistic considering that between the two islands there are only about 5000 residents.
If you need help finding your local House Representative, go here:
So let's work on getting some co-sponsors for this Bill.
From there, we begin to work on the Resources Committee so this can go to the floor for a vote!