By Sam Walker on June 19, 2012The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that includes a provision to roll back rules governing access to the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The bill introduced by Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., is one of 14 provisions in the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, which passed 232-188.
The proposal would throw out the current rules for off-road vehicles, ignore a settlement of a lawsuit brought by environmentalists against the National Park Service and return to a set of rules implemented in 2007 for the Seashore.
In a statement, Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Warren Judge, who testified before a Congressional Subcommittee urging the passage of H.R. 4094, described the significance of the vote.
“The House of Representatives has passed a landmark piece of legislation,” Judge said. “It will provide reasonable recreational access in a way that utilizes science-based resource management for shorebirds and turtles.”
Judge added, “H.R. 4094 represents a true win-win situation, for both people and wildlife.”
Board Vice Chairman Allen Burrus thanked Jones and his staff for their efforts to get House passage of H.R. 4094.
“They did the right thing for the people of Hatteras Island and the businesses that have suffered for too long,” Burrus said. “My hope is that this will be a stepping stone to pass similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.”
The White House issued a statement Monday, saying the Obama administration opposes the bill.
“Overall, H.R. 2578 contains a number of provisions that would undermine the responsible balance of interests and considerations in the stewardship of the Nation’s lands and natural resources,” said the statement from The White House Office of Management and Budget.
“H.R. 2578…reverse(s) course on the science-based National Park Service plan, developed after a lengthy public engagement process, that provides an appropriate balance of off-road vehicle access and protection of sensitive seashore areas,” according to the statement.
The overall bill contains a number of provisions that Democrats say also has almost no chance of clearing the Senate.
In the U.S. Senate, a companion bill to the Jones proposal has been introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan (D) and Sen. Richard Burr (R), and is scheduled for debate during a June 27 committee hearing.