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U.S. Senate Committee Amends Bill to Reopen OHV Access to North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras National Seashore

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has amended and approved the “Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act” (S. 486) to reopen Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina to off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation. The amended bill requires the secretary of the interior to conduct a study to determine how wildlife buffer restrictions can be reduced to allow for expanded OHV recreation. The study would determine the smallest area necessary to protect local species while opening new pedestrian and vehicle corridors around the protected land. The study report would be due one year after enactment of the new law.

The House of Representatives bill (H.R. 819) would reverse a 2012 management plan issued by the National Park Service that banned OHV access to large portions of the seashore. The legislation would reinstate a previous management strategy that better balances wildlife protections with responsible OHV access. S. 486 was originally identical to H.R. 819 before being amended. H.R. 819 currently awaits action by the House Judiciary Committee and S. 486 will now await consideration by the full Senate.

SEMA will continue to urge members of both the House and Senate to act quickly to re-open responsible recreational access at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. For more information, please contact Dan Sadowski at