Thank you for contacting me in regard to S. 2372, the Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act. I am glad for the opportunity to discuss this important issue with you.
The controversy at Cape Hatteras National Seashore revolves around using vehicles on the beaches, which are breeding grounds for sea turtles, piping plovers as well as home to seabeach amaranth and other endangered species. Vehicles driven on the beach crush these rare animals and plants, particularly the nests and eggs of the birds and turtles. In order to protect the endangered species native to Cape Hatteras beaches, the National Park Service (NPS) issued a rule stating that vehicle operators must purchase permits to drive on the beaches. Exceptions are made for the handicapped and for local commercial fishermen. NPS also designated specific routes that vehicles must adhere to. Additionally, some areas are closed during breeding season, and driving by night is prohibited while turtles are laying eggs and hatching because they are nocturnal.
Currently, S. 2372 would eliminate this rule in favor of the much more lenient Interim Protected Species Management Act from June, 2007, leaving the task of developing a new final rule up to the Secretary of the Interior. It would also invalidate the consent decree from the District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, in which conflicting parties agreed to create buffer areas and restrict night driving during turtle breeding season. Data show that while stricter vehicle statutes lead to a significant rise in species populations, they do not result in less revenue from tourists, which is the main cause of concern for proponents of S. 2372.
I understand your concern for the species that make the Cape Hatteras National Seashore their home. I will keep your thoughts firmly in mind when considering this legislation.
Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. Feel free to contact me again in the future about this or any other subject of interest to you, or for up-to-date information on what my office is working on please visit http://www.sanders.senate.gov. While there, I invite you to sign up for my e-newsletter, the Bernie Buzz, at http://sanders.senate.gov/buzz/. Please be aware that due to security screening procedures, postal mail to my office experiences delays that will lengthen the time it takes me to get back to you. The fastest way to contact my office is by calling 1-800-339-9834.
Sincerely, BERNARD SANDERS United States Senator
For the wild…
Alan Clark Gregory
Lt Col USAF, Ret.