Cape Hatteras National Seashore Acting Superintendent Patrick Reed has announced that much of the Cape Point ocean shoreline remains open to off-road vehicle (ORV) and pedestrian recreational use on a scheduled basis.
Accessed from ORV Ramps 43 and 44, this includes the entire ocean shoreline on the north side of Cape Point, the Point itself, and some of the southside ocean shoreline following around the Point.
Unfledged black skimmer and tern chicks still on the ground in the area remain active at night and in the early morning putting them at potential risk from visitor and ORV use during these hours. Black skimmers and least terns are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
In order to protect these chicks there will be escorted entry and exit during night hours.
From 5 AM until daylight: ORVs may enter and exit the area only with NPS provided escort. Pedestrians using the access corridor need no escort.
From daylight until dark: ORVs and pedestrians may enter and exit the area at any time and without escort.
From dark to 10 PM: ORVs and pedestrians may enter the area only with NPS provided escort and may exit the area with provided escort at 9 PM and 10 PM. Pedestrians using the access corridor need no escort.
From 10 PM to 5 AM: There will be no entry for either ORVs or pedestrians.
Escorts into the area will begin at the information check station located on the beach south of Ramp 44.
The access corridor may be temporarily closed if chicks move into the corridor or if impacted by high tides. Tide swells from approaching Tropical Storm Irene may cause higher than normal tides.
This schedule will remain in effect through the weekend and then will be reevaluated based on staffing availability and impacts from approaching Tropical Storm Irene. The National Park Service continues to explore adaptive management strategies to open the area at night. A section of the southside ocean shoreline further from the Point and some interior area of Cape Point is temporarily closed during all hours to ORV and pedestrian use due to the black skimmer and tern chicks, and migratory piping plovers in those areas.
Piping plovers are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
"The Service's goal is to provide as much open beach access as possible while fulfilling our required legal responsibilities for these protected birds" stated Reed. "We will be closely monitoring for fledging and movement of the black skimmer and least tern chicks and changes in migratory plover use so that we can reopen shoreline access as soon as possible. We thank our park visitors and local communities for their cooperation in observing this closure."