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Source: Island Free Press ...Local News

Environmental groups sue Park Service over beach driving


The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), representing The Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society, is taking the National Park Service to court for its failure to adopt regulations to manage beach driving at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The environmental groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday, Sept. 18, in federal court in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The suit claims that the interim protected species management plan under which the Park Service has been operating does not do enough to protect species of shorebirds and sea turtles that nest on the seashore.

“The Park Service has failed to develop a beach driving management plan for years despite the legal requirement to do so,” SELC said in a media release. “In addition to federal regulation requiring such protection, in 1973, President Nixon ordered the U.S. Park Service to regulate beach driving to protect natural resources. Most recently, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle issued an order concluding driving on the Seashore illegal as the Park Service has failed to adopt beach driving regulations.”

The groups also filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue over violations of the Endangered Species Act in connection with the interim management plan.

The lawsuit contends that the interim plan, which is intended to protect the birds and turtles until a long-range plan is adopted, does not go far enough.

“We’ve been attempting to engage the National Park Service in a dialogue about endangered and threatened species,” said Jason Rylander, staff attorney for Defenders of Wildlife. But, he noted, the interim plan falls “far short.”

Specifically, said Walker Golder, a biologist for Audubon North Carolina, the buffer distances between nesting areas and ORV access routes are inadequate, the timing of posting for nesting in the spring is inadequate, and the response to problems during the nesting season is also inadequate.

“No one wants deny the rights of fishermen and families to enjoy beaches along the National Seashore, but our beaches are turning into highways. In the meantime, the Park Service has stood idly by, shirking its responsibility to institute simple rules and instead watching natural resources be destroyed and a once-responsible tradition spin out of control,” said SELC attorney Derb Carter.

The groups noted that populations of protected and threatened shorebirds are in a steep decline on the seashore and that 2007 nesting results have been dismal.

“We are not seeking to prohibit driving on the beach but to regulate it according to law,” said Derb Carter, director of the SELC’s Carolinas office.

He said the groups involved in the lawsuit will not seek an injunction or any preliminary relief “at this time.”

“Whether we do,” he said, “depends on the National Park Service response.”

“We know that beach driving and managing species can be compatible,” said Chris Canfield, director of Audubon North Carolina, noting that members of the group and staff members drive on seashore beaches.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Supt. Mike Murray did not have an immediate response to the lawsuit. A spokesman said the Park Service and its attorneys had not seen the filing and wouldn’t respond until they did.

Meanwhile, the Park Service intends to continue with informal meetings of its proposed negotiated rulemaking committee, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in Nags Head.

The Park Service hopes to devise a long-range ORV management plan by the negotiated rulemaking process. Setting up a committee of stakeholders to sit at the table and devise beach driving regulations has been underway for at least three years. The proposed committee members from various stakeholder groups have still not been finally approved by the Secretary of the Department of Interior.

The SELC, Defenders of Wildlife, and North Carolina Audubon are all proposed members of the negotiated rulemaking committee. They said yesterday that they would not withdraw from the process.

“That’s a decision for the National Park Service to make,” Carter said.

More information and the legal documents are available at
Southern Environmental Law Center - Coast & Wetlands

Well folks the SELC is at it again. Whey are working getting wheelers kicked off the trails in NC from Murphy (Tellico) to Buxton (Cape Hatteras National Seashore). They have enlisted the National Audubon Society as their client this time instead of Trout Unlimited.

For those of you that plan on visiting The OBX and riding on the beach you might want to consider in joining one of these clubs:

:: The Outer Banks Preservation Association ::



I am currently looking at which club appears to be doing the most to protect our right to use the beaches so I have not joined either yet.

There is a steady stream of information that can be found at:

Home Page


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Re: Outer Banks of NC beach access is under attack from National Audubon Society & SE

This is just the begining if they win this they will want more and more strict regulations. In Massachussets some of the best striper fishing spots in the northeast are closed to everyone vehicles and pedestrians alike because of the Piping Plovers nesting. It was started because they were an endangered species. They have since been taken off the endangered species list but the manager of the refuge has been quoted that the intrests of the birds safety is more important than the people right to use the beach. Funny how our tax dollars pay for his salary. Anyway driving on the beach is restricted to 3 months out of the year. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. Give an inch and they will take 6 miles.
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