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I don't know if this was already posted or not, but here it is anyway!...:

ESTES THOMPSON
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, April 17, 2008

RALEIGH - Environmental groups and the National Park Service have reached a settlement that adds new restrictions to protect endangered species, likely ending a federal lawsuit over beach driving along parts of the Outer Banks.

The 23-page settlement involving the Cape Hatteras National Seashore was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Raleigh. Judge Terrence Boyle must approve the settlement before it goes into effect.

The settlement allows driving on large areas of beach, but seasonally restricts vehicle use in several spots popular with both birds and fishermen.

“This agreement would improve protection of bird species that have shown alarming declines over the last decades, while also providing for the enjoyment of the seashore by all visitors,” said Chris Canfield, executive director of Audubon North Carolina, one of the plaintiffs.

The settlement details areas to be restricted to protect bird and turtle nesting areas. Among its requirements: Bird nesting areas can’t be made smaller to accommodate vehicles if erosion cuts off vehicle access.

“We have made every effort to accommodate the driving and the fishing” with the settlement, Canfield said. The seasonal restrictions are less severe than those originally proposed before the settlement talks began, he said.

The vice chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners said he wasn’t happy with the plan. “But at least it allows opportunities for access to our beaches and keeps local businesses operating,” said Allen Burrus, who lives and works on Hatteras Island.

Derb Carter, attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center that filed the lawsuit, acknowledged that fishermen and birds favor the same areas for the same reason - lots of fish.

Law professor Carl Tobias at the University of Richmond, Va., called the settlement a fair resolution and said it is “incredibly detailed as to specifics of closures to protect species.”

Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society sued the National Park Service in October, arguing existing rules didn’t protect the species from beach vehicles. Dare and Hyde counties and the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance intervened on the side of the park service and all approved the settlement.

The governments and the alliance said they were concerned severe restrictions would hurt the coastal economy by driving away visitors who come to fish the beaches.

Messages seeking comment from park service officials weren’t immediately returned.

Under the settlement, the park service, by March 15 of each year, must mark nesting areas on Bodie Island Spit, Cape Point, South Beach, Hatteras Spit, North Ocracoke and Ocracoke South Point. All are popular with surf fishermen who reach the areas in off-road vehicles.

Under the settlement, the park service must set aside specific protection buffers around nesting areas for plover, the least tern, the oystercatcher and other waterbirds. The vehicle buffer is more than 1,000 yards for plover chicks, the highest level of protection.

Protected areas aren’t static. The document calls for park service personnel to find groups of plover chicks each morning and establish a buffer area.

Officials also have the authority to expand the protected areas if they believe there has been vandalism of fencing, nests or plants.

To protect turtles, the park service must close beaches to night driving between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. from May 1 to Sept. 15 and only under educational permits between Sept. 16 and Nov. 15.
 

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thanks for the info, i was just there two weeks ago in an RV and am going to plan a trip up there with my rig in the near future!
 

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sounds similar to Cape Cod...
 

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Judge Boyle approved the agreement yesterday.
 

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UPDATE:

Congressman Walter Jones (NC) and Senators Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole (NC) have introduced legislation in Congress that will supersede the recent settlement and reopen approximately 12 miles of the National Seashore to ORV use, until a long-term plan is created by the NPS.

If you have 5 minutes today, please call your Representative and tell him/her that you want them to support H.R. 6233.IH to reinstate the Interim Management Strategy for Cape Hatteras National Seashore in NC.

Then, call your Senators and tell them that you want them to support S.3113.IS to reinstate the Interim Management Strategy for Cape Hatteras National Seashore in NC.

Then, if you feel up to it, call Rep. Jones and Sens. Burr and Dole and tell them 'thanks' for trying to save ORV in the OBX.

It'll seriously take 5 minutes, and can help make a difference - not just for us, but for the whole sport.

Find your Representatives
 

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Senators Isakson and Chambliss, and Representative Linder have been written!
 

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Nauset Beach in Orleans, MA is closed until late july/early august due to the Piping Plovers.
 
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