The National Park Service announced Tuesday a plan to modify wildlife-protection buffers at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The plan provides corridors around buffers for many species, including American oystercatchers, Wilson’s plovers, piping plovers, colonial nesting waterbirds and sea turtles. Officials said the plan maintains protections for wildlife along the seashore by augmenting monitoring and management programs.
The changes are expected to provide additional public access during wildlife nesting seasons, access to all areas of the seashore at all times may not be possible, even with the decision to modify wildlife buffers, officials said. Multiple species may nest close to each other and there are times when off-road vehicle corridors may be closed.
Parts of the plan may be put into place this summer, while the entire plan is to be implemented in 2016, once additional staff are available to help monitor and manage wildlife protection buffers and corridors.
Park service director of the Southeast Region Stan Austin approved the plan, completing the National Environmental Policy Act and Environmental Assessment process that began earlier this year. The environmental documents were prepared in coordination and consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Public input was also considered.
“Wildlife protection buffers described under the plan’s selected action will continue to protect wildlife species while providing additional flexibility to allow access to pedestrians and off road vehicles,” said Superintendent David Hallac.
A public process to consider modifications to the final 2012 rule on off-road vehicle management is planned later this year. Officials are to consider changes related to morning opening of beaches, time periods open for use of seasonal off-road vehicle routes and the sizes and locations of vehicle-free areas.
The environmental assessment and a description of the plan are available the park service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/caha
Additional information is posted at www.nps.gov/caha/learn/management/2015ndaa