07-14-2010, 06:44 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
NPS Beach Night Driving Restriction
I found the following letter on another website this morning.
If NPS is already enforcing a beach night driving restriction on Ocracoke (NC), I imagine it will only be a matter of time before NJ, RI, and the Cape follows suite...............
|Thursday, 08 July 2010 12:34 |
United States Department of the Interior
NATIONAL PARK SERVICEJuly 8, 2010
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site Wright Brothers National Memorial
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
IN REPLY REFER TO: 1401 National Park Drive, Manteo, NC 27954 252-473-2111
Julie Youngman and Derb Carter
Southern Environmental Law Center
200 West Franklin Street, Suite 330
Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2559
Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance
P.O. Box 1355
Buxton, NC 27920
David K. Joyner, President
North Carolina Beach Buggy Association
P.O. Box 940
Manteo, NC 27954
John Couch, President
Outer Banks Preservation Association
P.O. Box 1355
Buxton, NC 27920
Dear Ms. Youngman and Messrs. Carter, Joyner, Hardham, and Couch:
This responds to your recent correspondence regarding the nesting loggerhead turtle that was
struck and killed by an off-road vehicle (ORV) on Ocracoke Island on or about June 23 or 24,
2010. Thank you for expressing your concerns. We appreciate how important this issue is to all
The matter is still under investigation. At the time of the incident, the National Park Service
(NPS) was in compliance and continues to be in compliance with the requirements of the consent
decree. The available information indicates that the incident occurred during the early morning
hours of June 24 and therefore was committed by someone illegally operating an ORV on the
beach in violation of the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. night driving restriction. The death of the turtle is
absolutely reprehensible and underscores the necessity of improving visitor compliance with
resource protection requirements. However, it is important to recognize this incident for what it
was - a criminal violation of the night driving restriction that has resulted in tragic consequences.
While it is a clear example of the risk that night driving can pose to nesting sea turtles, this is the
first ORV-caused fatality of a nesting sea turtle ever recorded at the Seashore.
I appreciate the concerns about the adequacy of NPS law enforcement staffing and the request
for increased nighttime monitoring. We recognize that the presence of law enforcement patrol
staff serves as a deterrent to criminal conduct; however, no realistic amount of law enforcement
coverage can eliminate all criminal violations of resource protection measures at the Seashore.
We have a dedicated staff of law enforcement rangers who work varied hours to expand the
hours of coverage and conduct random patrols after 10 p.m. when the night driving restriction
begins. Though we do not advertise it for obvious reasons, we also deploy surveillance cameras
at various locations and times in an additional effort to detect violations of resource protection
measures. As of July 5. 2010, NPS rangers have already issued 9 violation notices, 33 written
warnings, and 21 verbal warnings for violating the night time driving closure this season, in
addition to issuing numerous violation notices and warnings for violations of other resource
protection regulations. Recently, through good investigation, the law enforcement staff was able
to locate, identify and charge two suspects with violating the night time driving closure and
vandalizing a turtle nesting enclosure in Rodanthe on July 1, 2010.
Therefore, we must deny SELC's request to immediately expand the hours of night driving
restrictions and erect gates to physically close all ORV ramps during those hours. As you are
aware, in March 1010 the NPS released a draft ORV management plan/environmental impact
statement (DEIS). The public comment period closed May 11, 2010 and NPS is not accepting
additional comments on the DEIS. The action alternatives (C-F) described in the DEIS
contemplated different hour options for night driving restrictions, as well as the installation of
gates at all ramps and access points (see DEIS, Chapter 2, Table 8, Ramp Characteristics, page
107). We are in the process of preparing the final plan/environmental impact statement (FEIS),
as well as the proposed special regulation required for the operation of ORVs at the Seashore.
The turtle incident, despite being a despicable criminal act resulting in a tragedy, is also a
learning moment that the NPS will seriously consider in making a final decision about night
driving restrictions in the ORV management plan and special regulation.
In closing, we appreciate your interest in the management of Cape Hatteras National Seashore
and look forward to your further involvement.
Michael B. Murray
Michael B. Murray