Senator Burr Offers Amendment to Ensure Access to Outer Banks Beaches

WASHINGTON- Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) offered an amendment to S. 2363, the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014, that would help tourists and sportsmen gain access to North Carolina's renowned Outer Banks beaches. The amendment would set rules and parameters for the National Park Service (NPS) to abide by when they consider limiting citizen access to beaches, including off-road vehicle (ORV) access. The Burr amendment is identical to S. 486, which passed unanimously through the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on June 18, 2013.

"Federal restrictions on beach access have hurt North Carolina and local businesses along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore for years - it has done damage to our local communities and our local economy," Senator Burr said. "We must ensure that North Carolinians and tourists from around the country have access to North Carolina's scenic treasures, and the Sportsmen's bill offers the perfect opportunity to address this pressing issue once and for all. Over a year ago, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources reached a compromise that was a critical step forward in the effort to allow people to have access to our beaches while at the same time addressing any potential environmental concerns. It is my hope that we can take up this amendment and allow the Senate a chance to finally vote on it."

The parameters set by the Burr amendment would direct the NPS to minimize buffers on protected areas and keep them in place for the shortest possible duration necessary, designate pedestrian and vehicle corridors around areas that are closed, coordinate with the State of North Carolina when establishing certain buffers, and allow for a public process when considering limiting access in special situations. The amendment also directs the NPS to construct vehicle access points and roads as expeditiously as possible and report its progress to Congress within one year of the act becoming law.

The House version of this amendment, introduced by Congressman Walter Jones, was included in H.R. 2954, the Public Access and Lands Improvement Act. That bill was passed by the House of Representatives in a bipartisan vote earlier this year.

Groups including the American Sportfishing Association and Congressional Sportsmen Foundation are supporters of S. 486.