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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess on Monday the same federal judge that ruled in the NO OLF Case has temporary closed Hatteras Island for ORV traffic. I am going to be there for a week starting this weekend. Dang. Here is the order:

v. )
Defendant. )
This case was tried before the undersigned as a criminal trial on
July 16,2007, at the
regular criminal term of United States District Court at Elizabeth
city; North Carolina. The
Defendant, a resident of Virginia, was charged with operating a
vehicle without due care on the
Cape Hatteras National Seashore ("CAHA").
The alleged violation occurred on the afternoon of May 27,2007, a
Sunday, and the midholiday
day of the Memorial Day weekend. Testimony at trial included that of
a United States
Park Ranger, on duty at the time and location of the violation. The
testimony established that
there was traffic on a narrow strip of sand extending from the ramp
in the vicinity of the Oregon
Inlet Fishing Center, south and east along the oceanfront beach in
the direction of Oregon Inlet,
which is an open body of water connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the
Albemarle, Parnlico,
Croatan, and Currituck Sounds, through a tidal inlet. The area,
consisting of sand dune and tidal
beach, is characterized by a narrow passage along the beach south of
the entry ramp and an
expanding area of accreted sand. Since the construction of the high
rise bridge on Highway 12
across Oregon Inlet linking the south end of Bodie Island with the
north end of Pea Island, the
Case 2:07-mj-01075-BO Document 2 Filed 07/17/2007 Page 1 of 4
areas had developed irregularly. All of the land on the south side of
Bodie Island is within the
National Seashore.
This particular area is characterized as a fragile transitional over-
wash area, which has
historically been a valuable and declining resource for endangered
shorebirds and turtles. In
recent seasons, there have been extensive bird enclosure areas
located throughout this area, and
turtle nesting has traditionally taken place in this area. See
SEASHOR2E0,0 6 ANNUALR EPORT( 2006), available at:
upload/2006%20PIPL%20Fina1%2OReport-2.pdf [hereinafter PIPINGP LOVERA
REPORT (2006), available at:
2006%20Sea%20Turtle%20Fina1%20Report.pdf [hereinafter SEAT URTLEA
The testimony at trial established that United States Department of
Interior pilots with the
Park Service made an overflight on May 27 and counted approximately
1,200 vehicles located in
the over-wash area. Because camping overnight is prohibited, all of
the traffic was in transit at
some point on the date of the violation. The Court takes judicial
notice that at a minimum one
occupant per vehicle was at the scene. Further, it is reasonably
expected that there were two or
more persons per vehicle in such a recreational setting, making
between 2,500 and 5,000 people
a reasonable estimate of the number of people crowded onto this
narrow, fragile, environmentally
sensitive area on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
On the date and time of the violation, Defendant attempted to drive a
large four-wheel
drive vehicle off the beach and into an area adjacent to the dunes,
ultimately intending to exit on
Case 2:07-mj-01075-BO Document 2 Filed 07/17/2007 Page 2 of 4
the ramp. Because of the high volume of traffic resulting in
degradation of the beach, there were
deep ruts in the sand, some being feet in depth. Operating a vehicle
in these conditions, only feet
from with sun bathers, families and children on the beach creates a
serious hazard for injury or
death. The evidence at trial demonstrated that Defendant drove at a
speed dangerous for
conditions, traveling in an erratic and serpentine manner through the
ruts in the sand causing
spray of sand and danger to people on the beach. Defendant was cited
for this behavior failing to
drive with due care. After a hearing the evidence, the Court found
beyond a reasonable doubt
that the violation had been established.
By executive order, President Nixon required that the Department of
the Interior publish
regulations defining specific trails and areas for the use of off-
road vehicles "(ORV"). Exec.
Order No. 11,644,37 C.F.R. 5 2877 (1972), as amended by Exec. Order
No. 11,898,42 Fed.
Reg. 26,959 (May 24,2977). The regulations to designate which areas
are open to ORV traffic
must promote safety for all users, minimize damage to public lands
and wildlife, and take into
consideration endangered or threatened species. 43 C.F.R 5 8342.1,
The designation process
must include public participation, and include local landowners and
other interested parties. Id. 5
8342.2. Once a plan is approved, areas and trails must be clearly
identified so that the public will
be aware of the applicable limitations. Id Operating a motor vehicle
is prohibited except where
the Park Service has specifically designated that ORV use is
permitted, in accordance with the
aforementioned regulations. 30 C.F.R. 4 4.10; 1 8 U.S.C. 5 357 1.
Thus, where the Park Service
fails to create a plan for ORV use, ORV is prohibited.
CAHA does not have regulations in place to govern ORV traffic.
Consequently, it is also
a violation to operate a motor vehicle on Cape Hatteras National
Seashore without prior authority
Case 2:07-mj-01075-BO Document 2 Filed 07/17/2007 Page 3 of 4
and is punishable by up to $5,000.00, six months in prison, or both.
18 U.S.C. § 3571. By
permitting unregulated ORV traffic on CAHA, Defendant and others come
dangerously close to
accidents with pedestrians including children. Indeed, ORV traffic
directly impacts attempts to
protect endangered species from human encroachment. From April 1 to
August 3 1, 2006, the
Park Service recorded 47 ORV violations of barricaded closures for
bird nesting areas. PIPING
PLOVERA NNUARLE PORT9 . AS the home to five species of sea turtles,
two of which are
threatened and three of which are endangered, 23 ORV violations of
sea turtle closed areas were
recorded in the 2006 season. SEAT URTLEA NNUARLE PORT1 1 -12 .
Although the impact of ORV
traffic on endangered species and risk to pedestrians is yet
unmeasured, without an ORV plan in
place, the Park Service is without the manpower to enforce many of
the rules in place on heavily
trafficked days like that of the date of violation. Accordingly, it
is a violation to operate an ORV
on CAHA without authority from the Department of the Interior or its
designee, and Defendant
must pay $1 00 fine and special assessment.
SO ORDERED, this 1 7 day of July, 2007.

488 Posts
Just goes to show you how a few irresposible people can ruin a something for the rest of us and give sportsmen a bad name.

3,855 Posts
I'm definately not against off road vehicles, ATV's and the like as they all serve a purpose, but some folks loose their minds on these things and not only endager themselves but others (i.e. like mentioned above on crowded beach areas).

Too bad the rest have to suffer for the bad judgement of a few.. the few should be held accountable and not punish the masses in my view... Ruins the experience and privilage for the folks that operate those kind of vehicles in a responsible manner.

Sad.. this happens not only on the beach/coastal areas, but in National parks and NC Gamelands as well... there's always the "knucke-head" crowd somewhere....

4,810 Posts
Actually, the lone irresponsible driver only seems to have served to call attention to the overall situation. The way I read both the quoted report and the report, the reason for shutting down the beach altogether was that the the rules established by the park service were judged to be inadequate and/or ineffective (including unenforceable). The problem existed without this lone driver, it was just that nobody (who mattered) had noticed it.

In the meantime, I guess we fish south of the point, or find a way to hike out to The Point. <shrug>
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488 Posts
The park service is also forming a "Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Commitee" for setting up rules for cape hatteras orv. Private citizens can be nominated and serve on the commitee if they are "significantly affected or think their interests will not be represented adequately" by the rules drawn up by the commitee. Maybe some sensible outdoorsmen will make it onto the board.
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