Some Say Senate Bill 486 May Damage Cape Hatteras Ecology

Jul 23, 2013

A recently passed senate bill threatens to undermine the ecological balance at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Lee Jenkins has more.

Senate Bill 486, sponsored by senators Hagan and Burr, eliminates the current safeguards put into place to protect wildlife and pedestrians alike from beach vehicles. While the exact goal of the bill is unknown, the promotion of tourism seems to be its focus. But would the bill actually promote tourism? Kristen Brengel, from National Parks Conservation Association, believes it might not.

“A lot of people go to Cape Hatteras to enjoy the beaches and to sunbathe and to take their families. So, if this bill were to pass and, say, beaches were more open to vehicle driving, that tends to put pedestrian safety at risk, especially if beach driving isn’t enforced.”

The bill would nullify current beach driving rules, the culmination of five years of intensive research that supporters say protect beach ecology and promote tourism, evidenced by sea turtle nests and tourism hitting record highs under the current program. According to a press release, a modified version of the original bill has been passed requiring the National Park Service to determine how to increase vehicle access while still protecting wildlife, leaving the current program in place until further notice. I’m Lee Jenkins.