This Call to Action is from NCBBA President Harry Nash.
The National Park Service (NPS) has released the Environmental Assessment for Proposed Rule Changes (EA) affecting the Cape Hatteras National Recreation Area (CHNRA). In the EA, the NPS present four (4) Alternatives for modification of ORV routes in CHNRA. Public comments on the EA are due by March 18, 2016.
The North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA) encourages you to read the press releases and the documents. You can access the press release, the EA and the Comments area by clicking here. Select the "Open for Comment" button on the left side of the screen to review the EA and submit your comments.
Take note of the 4 Alternatives listed in the EA. They are summarized in Table 1, found on page 51 of the EA. You should make comments on these Alternatives.
To assist you in this process, click here for "Table 1. Alternatives Summary." Alternative 2 is preferred by the NPS.
To submit your comments, click here. Once the link opens, click the COMMENT NOW button to enter your comments.
Public Meetings will be held and are listed below. It is very important to you make every effort to attend at least one of these meetins and let your voice be heard.
February 26, 2016, 6 PM-8 PM - Hilton Garden Inn, 5353 Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC
February 29, 2016, 6 PM-8 PM - Embassy Suites by Hilton Hampton Hotel Convention Center & Spa, 1800 Coliseum Drive, Hampton, VA
March 1, 2016, 6 PM-8 PM - Cape Hatteras Secondary School, 48576 Hiway 12, Buxton, NC
March 2, 2016. 6 PM-8 PM - Ocracoke School, 1200 Schoolhouse Rd, Ocracoke Island, NC
March 3, 2016, 6:30 PM-8:30 PM - McKimmon Conference & Training Center, 1101 Gorman St, NC State University campus, Raleigh, NC
In addition to attending one of the meetings and making a statement, you should respond with written comments on-line at the NPS website or by USPS to: Superintendent, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, 1401 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954. Written Comments must be entered in the NPS website via the link above OR postmarked by March 18, 2016. Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail or social media.
NCBBA will contunue to work with the Superintendent and his staff through the process.
For all NCBBA members, NOW is the time to respond!
This is it.
THE TIME IS NOW!
NCBBA submitted a list of proposals in August, 2015 via this letter to the CHNRA Superintendent, Dave Hallac:
Mr. Dave Hallac, Superintendent
Cape Hatteras National Recreation Area
1404 National Park Drive
Manteo, North Carolina 27954
I want to thank you and your staff for the time and effort you all have contributed to improving the relationship between the people and National Park Service. The manner in which the scoping meetings were conducted and the manner in which attendees presented their views proves that things are better on the Outer Banks. On behalf of the 3800+ members of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA), I would like to submit the following comments concerning Changes to the ORV Rule:
1. MORNING BEACH OPENINGS
Open beach segments each morning on a rolling basis as daily management reviews are completed.
Priority Beaches: Ramps 2/4: Ramps 43/44; Ramp 45; Ramp 49; Ramp 72; Open by 6:00 AM Close at 10:00PM.
All Other Beaches: Open at 7:00am, Close at 10:00 PM.
These hours will allow visitors to access the beaches at sunrise and in the cool of the evening. Photographers and fishermen both will benefit greatly from having greater access during these earlier and later hours of low light conditions. Families will be able to enjoy the beaches at first light andpicnic late in the evening. Wildlife watchers will have a greater opportunityto see more birds and mammals.
2. SEASONAL ORV ROUTES:
Extend seasonal off road vehicle routes for additional periods in the spring and fall if off road vehicle use will not create resource management problems at the National Seashore.
Seasonal ORV Routes in front of the Villages: These beaches should remain open in the spring until April 30 and re-open on October 1.
Seasonal ORV Routes not in front of the Villages should be closed on March 31 and reopen on September 1.
3. VEHICLE FREE AREAS:
Potential areas for modification:
Reopen as a year round ORV Route to the north to allow access to seasonal beach in Nags Head (permit required) and to the South to Coquina Beach. The ORV Route would end north of the lifeguarded beach. This is one of the original ramps and receives little use as a VFA. Opening this will reduce congestion on beaches at Ramps 2 & 4 and enhance the visitor’s experience. Rest room facilities would be available at Coquina Beach.
Ramp 2 South:
Reopen as a year round ORV route. This will allow 2 means of ingress and egress to the beach between Ramps 2&4. This is a public safety concern. This also will allow ORV users to have access to the restrooms at Coquina and eliminate the need for the hard to maintain porta-john at Ramp 4 which is entirely inadequate. It also eliminates the need to construct proposed Ramp 2.5.
Some of that money could be used to put in another pedestrian boardwalk to the beach in the area where the permit office is located. Signs should be placed to encourage pedestrians to go to that access and Coquina Beach to minimize conflicts between pedestrians and ORV use if the Ramp is clearly “VEHICLE USE ONLY”.
Bodie Island Spit:
Change from VFA to Seasonal ORV. This is an extremely popular fishing location and this change will open it after the summer nesting season.
Ramp 23 North and South:
Change from Seasonal to Year Round Access. This will enhance the visitor’s experience by relieving crowding at Ramps 25 and 27. It will make summer access to ORV users more convenient to visitors staying in Rodanthe/Waves/Salvo.
Ramp 34 North:
Change from VFA to Seasonal ORV. This is an extremely good fishing area and will allow fall use after the summer visitors have left and the nesting season is over.
Ramp 43 North:
Change from VFA to Seasonal ORV Route. This will enhance the visitors experience by reducing the crowded conditions that occur on Ramps 43 and 44 during the summer as resource closures occur. The lifeguard protected beach would remain a VFA and would not be affected by this change.
Ramp 45 East:
Change from from VFA to a Seasonal ORV Route. The areas of Ramps 43-44 are subject to erosion and the Superintendent should have the option of opening an alternate route to the Point.
This would allow for adaptive management with proper resource management practices to ensure the option of having another means of ingress and egress in this area. Resource protection would limit the use of this, but the option should exist as a matter of public safety.
Ramp 45 West:
Change 1.30 miles of VFA to a Seasonal ORV Route. This will allow ORV access by ORV Visitors to a popular fishing area. Change .5 miles at the western boundary from VFA to Year Round Access. This will increase the size of the year round access east of Ramp 49 by .5 miles. This is one of the most popular ORV destinations during the summer for visitors who do not have direct access from their rental homes or motels. This change will ease crowding and enhance the visitor’s experience.
VFA Hatteras Island Spit:
Consideration should be given to making this a Year Round ORV Route. Much of the former spit is under water at the present time but that will change with time as proved at the Bodie Island Spit. It wasn’t long ago that Bodie Island Spit went out to the bridge pilings. A storm a couple of years ago made it an island. It is now smaller in size but no longer an island. To get to the spit one must ride in an ORV along the beach or on the Pole Road to a small parking lot. Since this is not a nesting site it should be designated as an ORV Route in the event of the spit growing in size and being able to accommodate recreational fishermen.
Change from VFA to a Year Round ORV Route. There have been no plover fledging in this area. Amoy and CWB can be protected by buffers and ORV corridors.
VFA Ocracoke South Point:
Change to a Year Round ORV Route. ORV use can be controlled by buffers and ORV corridors.
4. ORV PERMITS:
ORV permits should be issued for 14 days to allow for visitors to enjoy long holiday weekends. This would also allow anglers wanting to fish two of the fall tournaments to participate in both on one permit.
12 month Permits should be issued instead of the current annual permit. This can be accomplished by using a windshield permit like the state inspection sticker used in Virginia. The month and year can be easily determined. Please see attachment.
Consideration should be given to a 3 day permit to allow the one weekend a year visitor an opportunity to drive on the beach.
Many National Parks allow Golden Passport holders a discount on camping permits. Consideration should be given to allowing a discount for holders of these on ORV permits.
Changes should be made to the administrative procedures involving the issuance of permits to reduce the administrative cost and to make them available on line on short notice. There should be a printed receipt that is available at time of online purchase good for a limited number of days on 12 month permits to be used until the regular permit is mailed to the individual. Short term permits should be issued on line with info printed large enough to be viewed at a reasonable distance.
5. ADDITIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS;
Coquina Beach: A boardwalk should be constructed at the site of the current Permit Office that would provide easy pedestrian access to the beach at that location.
Ramp 2 should be posted as ORV access only and pedestrian traffic prohibited. Signs should direct pedestrians to the existing beach access boardwalk and the new boardwalk. This will address a public safety issue.
Many have expressed additional sound side access especially on Ocracoke Island. and Bodie Island. Consideration should be given to this.
Recently we discussed the need to improve and make available safer access to Pea Island. I have agreed to contact the Refuge Manager and see
if it will be possible to do this since the legislation establishing CHNS calls for cooperation between the two agencies regarding recreational use of the Pea Island beaches. If this comes to fruition this will allow visitors to safely access 13 miles of VFA only a short drive from the towns north of the Refuge.
The 13 miles of Pea Island Beach should be included as VFA miles for statistical reporting and consideration should be given to including bird populations as well. This area represents a large portion of the seashore and shouldn’t be treated like a “red headed stepchild”.
We thank you for this opportunity and we look forward to working with you on many projects in the future.
/s/ Harry Nash, President, North Carolina Beach Buggy Association PO Box 186 Nags Head, North Carolina 27959
For all NCBBA members, NOW is the time to respond!
This is it.
THE TIME IS NOW!
Harry Nash, President, #6980