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CCA Supports H.R. 4094-The Use of ORV at Cape Hatteras

American Sportfishing Association
B.A.S.S. LLC
Center for Coastal Conservation
Coastal Conservation Association
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
International Game Fish Association

Dear Congressman Jones,

On behalf of the nation’s sportfishing community, thank you for sponsoring H.R. 4094, a bill to reinstate the Interim Management Strategy governing off-road vehicle (ORV) use in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. The park’s recently implemented final ORV rule is severely restricting public access to one of the East Coast’s most popular surf fishing areas and causing dire economic impacts to the local community. This legislation is needed to provide relief to this community by requiring the park to be managed under the Interim Management Strategy until a more reasonable and balanced final ORV plan is developed.

America’s 60 million anglers generate over $45 billion in retail sales, with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy annually and creating employment for over one million people. In North Carolina, saltwater recreational fishing contributes over $900 million to the state’s economy annually, including $58 million in state and local tax revenues and nearly 10,000 jobs.

The sportfishing industry and anglers are true conservationists who have directly invested in the conservation and management of fishery resources since the 1950s. In 1950 the Sport Fish Restoration Program was established with the passage of the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act which placed a 10 percent excise tax on sportfishing equipment. This created a dedicated funding source to enhance freshwater and marine fishery resources throughout the country. In 2011, the State of North Carolina received over $10 million for fishery conservation and enhancement from what is now called the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. This is in addition to the revenue generated from fishing licenses.

This background is provided to demonstrate that the sportfishing community cares about the conservation of our nation’s natural resources – including those at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. We believe strongly that reasonable access to the beaches can be provided for ORVs while protecting nesting shorebirds and other wildlife. ORV access is essential for surf fishing from beaches at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. The recently completed ORV management plan severely restricts access to the most popular areas of the seashore far beyond what is needed for fish and wildlife resource management. In implementing the ORV management plan, the Park Service ignored the numerous comments of the sportfishing community and local residents, whose lives and livelihoods are taking a direct hit from lack of access. The plan not only threatens sportfishing in the park, but the seashore’s local economy, which is largely dependent upon tourism and recreation.

The NPS maintains, and we agree, that ORVs must be regulated in a manner that appropriately addresses resource protection – including protected, threatened and endangered species – and potential conflicts among the various Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area users. In 2007, a tough compromise was reached in the development of the Interim Protected Species Management Strategy (Interim Strategy) that provided strong protections for wildlife, while at the same time allowing for reasonable access to some of the most popular surf fishing locations on the East Coast. The final ORV Management Plan that is now in effect severely threatens the economy and way-of-life of the Hatteras community and the entire Outer Banks of North Carolina. This plan is the most restrictive management option to date, far exceeding any sense of balance between resource protection and public access, and betraying all promises made to the public regarding recreational uses in the seashore. The majority of the provisions included within the final plan far exceed what was proposed by a majority of the negotiated rulemaking committee that helped develop the Interim Strategy, including excessively large resource closures, unnecessary year-round and floating closures, and the lack of access corridors around or through resource closures.

Thank you again for your sponsorship of this very important legislation. H.R. 4094 will reinstate an interim management strategy that underwent the appropriate review process, restoring reasonable ORV and pedestrian access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area while providing appropriate shorebird and resource protection. The enactment of H.R. 4094 will also provide relief for a community suffering economic consequences due to the final ORV plan. We look forward to working with you to ensure its passage.

Sincerely,

American Sportfishing Association
B.A.S.S. LLC
Center for Coastal Conservation
Coastal Conservation Association
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
International Game Fish Association