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IBA news: Hatteras reprieve

Chris Merkord

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From the Birding Community E-bulletin, September 2014:


The battle over off-road vehicle (ORV) use at Hatteras National Seashore (National Park Service) has gone on for years. The issue has to do with the potential risks to nesting birds and sea turtles along 67 miles of ocean beach. We previously covered this issue in the January 2010 E-bulletin:

In February 2012, the National Park Service implemented a hotly contested new plan limiting ORV access at certain locations and at certain times. This plan was challenged by a group of ORV enthusiasts hoping to recover their beach use. The issue was in court for two years. Currently the regulations limiting ORV access to the beach will remain in place, following a June ruling by the Eastern District Court of North Carolina.

ORV access at Hatteras often changes frequently during the breeding season of protected birds and sea turtles. But as we indicated in 2010, "this is not a matter of being 'anti-ORV use,' but rather 'appropriate-ORV use.'"

To view a summary of the seashore options, the permit process, and an accompanying map here:

The area in question is a "globally significant" Important Bird Area (IBA), particularly for nesting Piping Plovers, Least Terns, and American Oystercatchers, as well as other shorebirds and waterbirds.

Although this year's nesting season is over, off-road vehicle advocates have stated that they will continue to fight the ruling. Audubon North Carolina has previously estimated that only two percent of the seashore's many visitors drive ORVs, so meaningful public support for this position may not be an issue.

For information on the Cape Hatteras IBA, see here:

For additional information about worldwide IBA programs, including those in the U.S., check the National Audubon Society's Important Bird Area program web site at: 

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