Effective immediately nighttime driving is banned on Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches.
That because of a consent decree signed yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle, settling a lawsuit over the beach driving issue.
Park Service Superintendent Mike Murray says beginning today all of their beaches will be closed to off-road vehicles from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
The nighttime ban was enacted to increase the chances of successful turtle nesting. The ban lasts until November 15th. After that the consent decree says the park service may issue permits for driving at night.
Rangers will enforce the ban. Violators face up to six months imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine.
A federal judge has signed off on a proposed settlement of a lawsuit over protecting endangered wildlife along parts of the Outer Banks while still allowing driving along the beach.
At a hearing this afternoon in Raleigh, District Court Judge Terrence Boyle approved the plan to continue allowing vehicle access along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Environmental groups sued the park service over concerns that the beach driving plan didn't do enough to protect wildlife on the beach.
“Today's decision is evidence that we can protect our native wildlife without sacrificing traditions like beach driving, fishing and surfing that are so important on Cape Hatteras National Seashore,” said Jason Rylander, an attorney with Defenders of Wildlife.
Both Dare & Hyde counties voiced a concern about lost tourist revenue and gained a voice in the settlement process.
“The long standing position of our Board is to support free and open access to all users of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The efforts of Defenders of Wildlife and National Audubon to restrict or deny access to America’s beaches by the public are shameful," Warren Judge, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners said in a news release.