- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

BUXTON, N.C. (AP) - By next month, shorebirds and anglers could share parts of the North Carolina seashore in a way that works for them both.

Public hearings were held last week by the National Park Service regarding smaller buffers around shorebirds and sea turtle nests. A federal law that passed in December gave the park six months to decrease the size of the no-drive zones or offer an alternative route around nests. The public can comment through Thursday.

At the hearing Tuesday, speakers questioned the park about the management plan. Issues included how the park staff made decisions to close parts of the beach and how they determined when birds were courting.

The Virginian-Pilot (https://bit.ly/1KWxdmb) reports that under current rules, a piping plover nest with chicks has a 1,000-meter buffer and sea turtle nest buffers are 105 meters. The buffer would change to 500 meters for plovers and 30 for sea turtles.

With the new plan, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Dave Hallac said monitoring beaches would require 13 more employees at a cost of $260,000.

Hallac said park staff worked with North Carolina biologists and used studies on shorebird and turtle biology to balance complying with the law, compromising with seashore visitors and protecting the resource.

David Scarborough, treasurer of the Outer Banks Preservation Association, said the plan is a good start but more could be done.

The public can comment about possible changes to the policy until Thursday.


Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, https://pilotonline.com

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