Access to Cape Hatteras and Biscayne National Park

Summary

A recent trend by the National Park Service limits recreational angling opportunities on federal public lands. Learn more and voice your concerns of this alarming trend to your Congressmen.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area

This national park, located along the Outer Banks in North Carolina, is one of the premier surf fishing locations in the United States. Off-road vehicle (ORV) access to the park is essential for surf fishing from the beaches, as well as many other recreational activities.

In 2007, an Interim Protected Species Management Strategy (Interim Strategy) was developed as a temporary compromise until an ORV management plan could be finalized. This Interim Strategy provided protections for wildlife while at the same time allowing for access to some of the most popular recreation areas in the park. However, this reasonable and science-based plan was cast aside and the National Park Service (NPS) approved a much more restrictive ORV plan that went into effect on February 15, 2012; the plan closes extensive areas of the seashore to the public and severely limits ORV access, far outweighing what is needed to address resource protection. Not only does the plan threaten access for sport fishing and other recreational activities, but also the seashore’s local economy, which is largely dependent upon tourism and recreation.

The Preserving Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Act (H. R. 819) and Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act (S. 486) will reinstate an interim management strategy that underwent a thorough review process, restoring reasonable ORV and pedestrian access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area while providing appropriate shorebird and resource protection.

This legislation is needed to provide relief to this community by requiring the park to be managed under the Interim Strategy until a more reasonable and balanced final ORV plan is developed. Seven members of the recreational fishing community - including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) - sent a letter on March 12 to the original bill sponsors Senators Richard Burr and CSC Co-Chair Kay Hagan (S. 486) and Representative Walter Jones (H.R. 819) expressing support for this legislation.

On May 15, 2013, H.R. 819 was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee and on June 18, 2013, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed an amended version of S.486. The amended version of S. 486 does not reinstate the Interim Strategy, and instead, requires that the Secretary “review and modify wildlife buffers in the National Seashore.” This amended version of the legislation does not specifically benefit access to the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area, and fails to specifically address the current access issues in the park. However, it is still an improvement over the current situation for sportsmen should this legislation move forward in Congress.

Biscayne National Park

Officials of the National Park Service at Biscayne National Park (BNP) announced in August 2011 their intent to include a large marine reserve that would close over 20 percent of the park's public waters to recreational fishing, boating and other recreational activities in the General Management Plan (GMP) for the Park. Located near Miami, Florida, this park is the largest marine park in the National Park system and one of the country's largest urban recreational fishing areas with nearly 10 million fishing trips taken in the area every year.

Prior to the October 31 deadline, members of the recreational fishing community submitted formal comments for the draft GMP of BNP. Recommendations from the community for alternative management methods included more restrictive fishing regulations, species-specific spawning closures, and a mechanism to pay for improved enforcement and education of park rules and regulations. Despite the expressed opposition and recommendations from the sportfishing industry and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the NPS released a draft GMP that results in a long list of de-facto closures that would close off some of the best fishing areas. Furthermore, the plan includes establishment of a 10,522 acre marine reserve and several “no combustion engine zones” within BNP.

Links

Downloads

Description Download
On July 1, 2013, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, along with the American Sportfishing Association, Center for Coastal Conservation, International Game Fish Association and National Marine Manufacturers Association, sent a letter on behalf of the recreational fishing and boating community to Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, thanking them for their leadership in altering the direction of the General Management Plan (GMP) for Biscayne National Park Download file
On May 9, 2013, a coalition from the sportfishing and boating community sent a letter to Dan Kimball, Superintendent of Everglades National Park expressing the coalition's concerns with potential access restrictions proposed under the Draft General Management Plan / East Everglades Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement (draft GMP) for Everglades National Park. Download file
Members of the recreational fishing community sent a letter on March 12, 2013 to the original bill sponsors Senators Richard Burr and CSC Co-Chair Kay Hagan and Representative Walter Jones expressing their support for H.R. 819 and S. 486. Download file
On September 27, 2012, a coalition of national boating and fishing organizations sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar and Florida Governor Rick Scott of the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus expressing the coalition’s appreciation for recent positive steps in the development of a General Management Plan for the Park, but reiterated concerns about the potential to unnecessarily close large areas of the Park to the public. Download file
H.R. 4094, the Preserving Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Act, reinstates the Interim Management Strategy governing off-road vehicle use in Cape Hatteras. This bill was included as a provision of HR. 2578, the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support. Download file
On April 26, 2012, the recreational fishing community sent a letter to Representative Walter B. Jones, thanking him for sponsoring H.R. 4094, the Preserving Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Act, and standing up for recreational anglers in North Caro. Download file
On June 15, 2012, the recreational fishing community sent a letter to members of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus in support of H.R. 4094 which is included as a provision in H.R. 2578. Download file
Prior to the October 31 deadline for Biscayne National Park, members of the recreational fishing community submitted formal comments for the draft General Management Plan of BNP. Download file
A companion bill to H.R. 4094 was introduced in the Senate as S. 2372, the Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act. Download file
On June 26, 2012, the recreational fishing community sent a letter to Senators Burr and Hagan thanking them for sponsoring S. 2372, which would reinstate the Interim Management Strategy governing off-road vehicle use in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. Download file
On March 19, 2012, members of the recreational fishing committee sent a letter to Secretary Salazar requesting a meeting to discuss appropriate ways to address management challenges in the Biscayne National Park draft General Management Plan. Download file
On April 26, 2012, Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio sent a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressing their concerns regarding the Biscayne National Park Management Plan and how it will impact their constituents. Download file

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