Jones, Tillis, and Burr Take Action to Preserve Taxpayers’ Access to Cape Lookout

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3), Senator Richard Burr (NC), and Senator Thom Tillis (NC) are raising strong concerns with the National Park Service’s push for increased restrictions on public access to Cape Lookout National Seashore.  The Park Service’s preferred alternative for a rule governing off-road vehicle (ORV) use at the seashore would, among other things, impose an $80 fee for a short term permit to take a vehicle to Cape Lookout, place restrictions on nighttime driving, and implement seasonal bans on motorized access to certain areas. 

Congressman Jones, Senator Burr, and Senator Tillis believe the Park Service can take a less restrictive course of action than the one they are proposing, one that is in keeping with the standard for improved taxpayer access Congress laid out in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, while also protecting the natural resources of the national seashores.

“There is absolutely no need for more restrictions.  The National Park Service’s plan is a ‘solution’ in search of a problem that does not exist,” said Congressman Jones. “The Park Service’s existing ORV management strategy is serving its purpose.  As I understand it, there have been no recorded deaths or injuries of sea turtles, shorebirds or other protected species at the seashore as a result of ORVs, day or night.  In fact, over the past several years the number of sea turtle nests at the seashore has steadily increased, and the number of piping plovers, red knots, American oystercatchers and least terns have all improved as well.”

The economic impact of new restrictions would devastate the communities that serve the seashore,” continued Congressman Jones.  “Fewer people will visit, the local economy will suffer, and more jobs will be lost.  It just doesn’t make sense.  Taxpayers have a right to access the recreational areas they own and pay for, and I will continue to fight to preserve that right.”

“This is just one example of why Americans believe Washington bureaucrats are too involved in our local communities,” said Sen. Burr. “North Carolinians are seeking a balance between protecting wildlife and allowing recreational ocean side access. We have heard from our constituents who are concerned about the government’s decision and believe it is too restrictive and will ultimately hurt the economy in the surrounding communities.  Visitors come to Cape Lookout because of the scenic beauty of the area and, just like the Park Service, want to see the wildlife thrive. These two groups don’t have mutually exclusive priorities.”

  “Cape Lookout National Seashore is a North Carolina landmark that visitors from across the country enjoy every day, and restrictions to access placed by the National Park Service ultimately hurt our local economies,” said Sen. Tillis. “Another example of overreach by the Federal government, I urge the National Park Service to find an alternate solution that protects the natural habitat of Cape Lookout while allowing the public to enjoy this beautiful part of the Outer Banks as well.”             

Click here to read the letter Congressman Jones wrote to the Park Service last year objecting to the proposed restrictions to the national seashores.