Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a national treasure visited by millions of people each year taking in the natural beauty, the wildlife diversity and 67 miles of shoreline. But the impacts of unrestricted off-road vehicle (ORV) use has taken its toll on the threatened and endangered shorebirds and sea turtles that nest on the seashore’s beaches.
Finally, after years of advocacy and litigation by Defenders and our partners, the National Park Service is poised to adopt regulations for beach driving on Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Yet the proposed regulation does little to protect wildlife nesting areas.
The proposal only sets aside areas for ORVs and does not mandate any specific measures to protect wildlife from beach drivers. And it reserves just 26 of the Seashore’s 67 miles of beach for pedestrians and wildlife year-round, setting aside the rest for year-round and seasonal beach driving.
In recent years, a temporary plan that limits ORV use near
protected wildlife nesting areas has been working to protect wildlife.
In 2007, protected sea turtles created just 82 nests on the shore. And in 2010, after 3 years of temporary protections, that number rose to 153. If wildlife is not explicitly protected under the Park Service’s plan, these numbers could easily decline.
All it takes is one wrong step by a piping plover into an area that is not protected, and it could be run over.
We have made great progress in winning important protections for Hatteras’ wildlife , and we can’t lose traction now. ORV advocates want the entire seashore open to beach driving. Tell the Park Service instead that you support specific, enforceable, science-based protections for wildlife and additional vehicle-free areas for nesting.
The Park Service is accepting comments until Tuesday, (September 6th) so we need you to make your voice heard now.
Comments are being accepted directly through this regulations.gov form. All you have to do is fill out your contact information, and then write your comments in the supplied box.
Below is a sample letter for you to send to the Park Service, but please customize your letter. Be sure to mention if you vacation in Hatteras, if you live nearby, are an educator, a scientist, birdwatcher, or any other personal factor that connects you to the area.
Off road vehicle drivers are a small portion of those who visit Cape Hatteras National Seashore each year, but they are among the most vocal. In order to speak up for all of the piping plovers, sea turtles, sea and shore birds and all of the other wildlife that relies on this region, please send your message now.
Dear Superintendent Murray,
I am very concerned about the National Park Service’s proposed regulation for managing ORV use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Under the current interim plan, protected wildlife has seen huge gains in the area. Sea turtles that only created 82 nests in 2007, made 153 in 2010. Piping plovers and other shorebirds are rebounding. If you expand ORV use across the Seashore, threatened and endangered wildlife could be impacted.
I strongly support regulation of ORVs at the Seashore, but the Park Service plan protects beach drivers more than it does wildlife. The proposed plan sets aside currently only 26 of the 67 total miles of the Seashore for year-round wildlife and pedestrian use with open to year-round or seasonal beach driving. More vehicle-free areas are needed for wildlife and pedestrians.
As it is currently written, the proposed regulations treat wildlife protection as optional, which is unacceptable. Please revise this plan to include current buffers and other explicit protections for wildlife like piping plovers and sea turtles that rely on the Hatteras Seashore.
Thank you for your consideration.
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