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[House Report 113-146]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]


113th Congress  }                                       { Rept. 113-146
  1st Session   }        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES       {        Part 1
=======================================================================



 
PRESERVING ACCESS TO CAPE HATTERAS NATIONAL SEASHORE RECREATIONAL AREA 
                                  ACT 

                                _______
                                

  July 9, 2013.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Hastings of Washington, from the Committee on Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 819]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 819) to authorize pedestrian and motorized 
vehicular access in Cape Hatteras National Seashore 
Recreational Area, and for other purposes, having considered 
the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and 
recommend that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 819 is to authorize pedestrian and 
motorized vehicular access in Cape Hatteras National Seashore 
Recreational Area.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    H.R. 819 directs the Secretary of the Interior to manage 
Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area in accordance 
with the Interim Protected Species Management Strategy/
Environmental Assessment issued by the National Park Service 
(NPS) on June 13, 2007.
    Authorized in 1937, Cape Hatteras National Seashore 
Recreation Area now covers 30,350 acres. In 2007, the NPS 
instituted an Interim Management Strategy to govern off-road 
vehicle (ORV) use at Cape Hatteras. The access restrictions it 
contained were much more limited than visitors and local 
residents were accustomed to, but there was general agreement 
that the strategy was functional.
    A key provision of the Interim Management Strategy is that 
it provides the local park superintendent authority to use his 
or her professional judgment to adapt corridors and routes as 
the physical characteristics of the seashore change on a 
dynamic basis. This commonsense approach allows the 
superintendent to modify access by responding directly to 
changing conditions on a real-time basis, rather than 
arbitrarily written mandates.
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Biological 
Opinion finding that Interim Management Strategy would not 
jeopardize any Endangered Species Act listed species. However, 
litigious interest groups sued the NPS over the adoption of the 
Interim Management Strategy and, in April 2008, the court 
approved a settlement that resulted in a consent decree 
establishing new, more restrictive rules on ORV use at Hatteras 
until a new final rule could be crafted. That final rule, which 
is even more restrictive than the consent decree, went into 
effect in March 2012.
    Local businesses have reported significant economic losses 
and fear permanent damage to tourism if the final rule remains. 
ORVs have long been used to access the park by fisherman and 
other visitors. By restricting long sections of the beach from 
ORV use and leaving no alternatives, NPS has effectively shut 
down more miles of the park than the NPS represents.
    H.R. 819 would suspend the consent decree and the final 
rule and reinstate the Interim Management Strategy. It lays out 
a list of criteria that the Secretary of the Interior would 
have to meet to institute access restrictions greater than 
those in the Interim Management Strategy.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 819 was introduced on February 26, 2013, by 
Congressman Walter Jones, Jr. (R-NC). The bill was referred to 
the Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to 
the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation. 
The bill was also referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. 
On March 14, 2013, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the bill. 
On May 15, 2013, the Full Natural Resources Committee met to 
consider the bill. The Subcommittee on Public Lands and 
Environmental Regulation was discharged by unanimous consent. 
No amendments were offered and the bill was then adopted and 
ordered favorably reported to the House of Representatives by a 
bipartisan rollcall vote of 24 to 17, as follows:

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the 
rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(2)(B) 
of that Rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under clause 3(c)(3) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has 
received the following cost estimate for this bill from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

H.R. 819--Preserving Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore 
        Recreational Area Act

    H.R. 819 would require the Cape Hatteras National Seashore 
in North Carolina to be managed according to the Interim 
Protected Species Management Strategy/Environmental Assessment 
(Interim Strategy) issued by the National Park Service (NPS) on 
June 13, 2007, until the NPS issues a new final rule. Under the 
bill, that final rule could not include additional restrictions 
on pedestrian or motorized access to the seashore beyond those 
in the Interim Strategy unless the restrictions are based on 
peer-reviewed science and the public has had the opportunity to 
review and comment on them.
    H.R. 819 also would prohibit implementation of the existing 
final rule entitled ``Special Regulations, Areas of the 
National Park System, Cape Hatteras National Seashore--Off-Road 
Vehicle Management'' and would invalidate the consent decree 
concerning use of off-road vehicles at the seashore, which was 
filed on April 30, 2008.
    Based on information provided by the NPS, CBO estimates 
that implementing the legislation would cost about $2 million 
over the 2014-2018 period, assuming the availability of 
appropriated funds. Those costs would be incurred as management 
of the seashore transitioned to the Interim Strategy and the 
new final rule is developed.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 819 would affect direct 
spending; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. Under the 
existing final rule, the NPS charges fees (which are recorded 
in the budget as offsetting receipts) for off-road vehicle 
permits. Those fees are available to be spent without further 
appropriation. Those fees are not a part of the Interim 
Strategy; therefore, under the bill, the NPS would collect 
fewer fees. However, CBO estimates that the net impact of that 
change would not be significant. Enacting H.R. 819 would not 
affect revenues.
    H.R. 819 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Martin von 
Gnechten. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. Section 308(a) of Congressional Budget Act. As required 
by clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget 
Act of 1974, this bill does not contain any new budget 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures. Based on information provided by 
the National Park Service, CBO estimates that implementing the 
legislation would cost about $2 million over the 2014-2018 
period, assuming the availability of appropriated funds.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to authorize pedestrian and motorized 
vehicular access in Cape Hatteras National Seashore 
Recreational Area.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5

    Directed Rule Making. The Chairman does not believe that 
this bill directs any executive branch official to conduct any 
specific rule-making proceedings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    Cape Hatteras National Seashore, on the Outer Banks of 
North Carolina, includes more than 30,000 acres of barrier 
islands. Established in 1937 and managed by the National Park 
Service (NPS), Cape Hatteras is the nation's first national 
seashore.
    In 2007, the NPS completed an interim environmental review 
to assess whether motorized vehicle use on the beaches was 
endangering public safety or impacting threatened and 
endangered nesting shorebirds and sea turtles found in the 
Park. In 2008, the NPS was sued by groups alleging that the 
management plan put in place as a result of the 2007 process 
was woefully inadequate to protect those species.
    Parties to the lawsuit, including the local counties who 
intervened in the case, eventually signed a consent decree 
providing for temporary management of the Seashore and 
protection for the imperiled species, until the NPS could 
complete a full environmental impact statement and final rule. 
The final rule was published in January and became effective 
February 15 of 2012.
    It is important to note that, despite the fact that the 
consent decree and final rule placed certain limits on 
motorized beach access, the numbers of park visitors, piping 
plovers and turtle hatchlings have all increased in recent 
years. Off-road vehicle use is still allowed in the park, 
albeit on fewer acres and at different times of the year.
    H.R. 819 would overturn the new rule, revert Park 
management to the 2007 plan and limit the effectiveness of any 
future rule. The legislation flies in the face of sound 
science, responsible rule-making and legitimate efforts to 
balance the competing demands placed on the Seashore's 
resources. The bill represents Congressional micro-management 
of a specific unit of the National Park System to the detriment 
of the Park. H.R. 819 is an unwarranted intrusion on behalf of 
small but aggressive segment of the public who demand expansive 
access for off-road vehicles regardless of the impacts.
    A far larger majority of the public supports the final 
rule; their wishes and the solid scientific work of the NPS and 
the courts should be respected. H.R. 819 should be rejected.

                                   Edward J. Markey.
                                   Raul M. Grijalva.