The good news just keeps on coming for Hatteras wildlife. Last week, a federal court upheld Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s beach driving rule, which has led to two consecutive years of great news for sea turtle and piping plover nest rates, along with record tourism numbers. Indeed, since it was put in place, the park has counted a record number of sea turtle nests (222 in 2012 and 254 in 2013) and both visitations to the National Seashore and proceeds from visitor lodging increased during the nesting season.
Nonetheless, in 2012, a local group sued the National Park Service in an attempt to undo the rule. Defenders of Wildlife and our conservation allies in North Carolina sprang into action, fighting to protect the rule and the sea turtles and shorebirds that benefit from it.
And fortunately, on June 20th, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled in favor of the Park Service, Defenders and our conservation allies, which is great news for wildlife.
This suit was just one of many attacks on the rule. Over and over again, off-road vehicle interest groups have tried to block, weaken or do away with any kind of beach driving regulation at Cape Hatteras. Just last year Defenders launched a radio ad campaign calling on North Carolinians to tell their senators to protect Hatteras wildlife. Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr had introduced harmful legislation that would render the year-old beach driving rule useless, even though both wildlife and tourism are thriving.
It’s just common sense to strike a balance between enjoying our beaches and protecting our wildlife, and the success at Cape Hatteras is a great example. To celebrate the second anniversary of the beach driving rule, Defenders of Wildlife launched a print ad campaign in Outer Banks Magazine and IndyWeek, welcoming visitors and turtles alike back to the beach for the 2014 beach season.
Best wishes to everyone for another summer of thriving wildlife and tourism at Cape Hatteras National Seashore!
Haley McKey is a Communications Associate at Defenders of Wildlife