Local News

Judge halts beach driving on Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Posted July 18, 2007
Updated May 1, 2008

— A federal judge has put an immediate stop to all beach driving on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

In an order filed Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said the National Park Service, the Department of Interior and towns along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore need to create an off-road vehicle plan for the beaches.

Until that happens, off-road vehicle driving is banned from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse north to Oregon Inlet and south to Ocracoke.

Cape Hatteras park officials, however, are not enforcing the order while they try to get an interpretation of Boyle's ruling.

Some areas on the beach are closed because of wildlife sanctuaries, which have nothing to do with the order, Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray said. And there are enforceable regulations prohibiting motorists from driving on sand dunes, speeding and driving drunk.

Boyle's order was based on a criminal case that began over the Memorial Day weekend. In that case, Vasile Matei was accused of operating a vehicle without due care.

During Matei's trial, Boyle questioned the lack of off-road vehicle rules that the Park Service can enforce. In Wednesday’s order, Boyle said the lack of rules endangers both beach-goers and endangered species that live on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

According to the National Park Service, piping plover chicks forage and rest in the area.


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  • spottailcatcher Jul 19, 2007

    I love deep fried plover. These little things have survived this long so let it rest. As for the rest of you tree huggers, this judege needs to lay off the liquor and get with reality. I bet he would not like it if they closed all Liquor stores and golf courses. Long live fishing and fellowship. Tight Lines

  • independent-opinion Jul 19, 2007

    As far as the sonstitution is concerned rights and freedoms are not granted by the constitution, they are protected by it. The constitution limits the power of government to restrict the freedoms of the people. ie. Ammendment 9 - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. Ammendment 2 guarantees the people have the power to protect themselves and their constitution from tyranny of repressive government. Constitutional law has little to do with this case. Otherwise ammendment 1, regarding peaceable assembly, may be interpreted to protect our right to assemble at Hatteras with our ORV, fishing tackle, family and friends without molestation of the government.

  • Broker - Back from Lurking Jul 19, 2007

    Let freedom ring. But the natives of Hatteras Island have, bit by bit, had their freedoms limited or abolished as have the traditional visitors (fishermen, etc). The CAHA NRS was started benignly enough to protect access to recreation that was traditional in the region. But in the 30 years I've been recreating out there I have seen and heard the native families change. Some leave for lack of affordable housing; some from the tax bills; others from the absentee landlord development. I have heard the conversations go from historic water activities to either grossing large profits or merely surviving. And the accents in which the natives spoke have largely gone as well. For what? Another 10K/week rental home? The people compaining about ORV usage most often are recent visitors. Just as in any place you visit, take it or leave it. But don't change its historic identity just b/c it doesn't match your sensitivities. When's the last time you saw a fisherman picket Wings?

  • FRANK FOLB JR Jul 19, 2007

    Actually Ladyblue,

    You are incorrect. The enabling legislation, when Cape Hatteras National Recreational Seashore was formed, promised the residents of Hatteras Island they would ALWAYS have access to the beaches. Also note the true name of the park: National Recreational
    Park. Look it up!! it was made for the people not the birds.

    Also WRAL, You need to come to Hatteras island and get your story straight. Yes what you say is true as far as what this judge has said and done BUT what he has said is incorrect. We have been driving on the beaches since LONG before it became a National Park. Since 1978 we have been going by the '78 interim management plan, and we are in the begging stages of Negotiated Rulemaking to make a formal ORV management plan.

    Thanks for your time and space!!

    Frank Folb Jr.

  • gcfarms Jul 19, 2007

    There is only one beach left that really inspires me to go to the ocean and fish. This beach is Hatteras island. This is about the only beach where you can drive out on and find a spot all to your own and fish under the crystal clear blanket of stars and enjoy the ultimate beauty of the ocean at it's fullest. You can also catch fish frequently which is something other beaches cannot deliver. I would venture that 99 percent of our nations beaches are overdeveloped and covered with swimmers and sunning beach bums. I know that we fisherman have to share this area also with other beach users who have other plans and we have to be courteous but please do not take our last few beaches we can drive on because of idiot judges or idiots that cannot follow rules. If you are planning to go to the OBX to swim or sun on the beach be advised that vehicles use the beach to fish and ride around. If you are offended by this go to the other 99 percent of the nation's crowded beaches and leave us alone.

  • Slip Kid Jul 19, 2007

    "Freedom is the things promised us in the constitution and no where does it say let the kids run their ORV allover the beach." - ladyblue

    You, and others, completely miss the meaning of the constitution. The constitution rarely DEFINES what freedoms we have, just protects their loss, abuse and restrictions from government, i.e. from Judges making defacto laws.

    How would you like me to force you off the beach because I'm adverse to people walking on it, leaving foorprints, etc.? This effort by judge Boyle is way out of line with reasonable use of the outer banks adn the scope of law he was dealing with. If you don't want to cross paths with ORV's/4x4's, then go to the much more numerous beaches that already restrict them. You're not the only one that wants to enjoy the OBX, so 'Don't tread on me' as the saying goes.

  • silverflash Jul 19, 2007

    well that's a problem lady blue. where else can you take your ORV????? Carolina beach??? Crowded and nasty. Ft Fisher?? Wil be crowded now more than ever and it is a mere 4 miles long. Where else is there? THE CHNRA (which is cape hatt national rec area as indicated when it was opened in the 50's)has the only stretch of 4x4'ing area around as far as I can tell for many many miles... Like thousands..... At least beach wise......

    tell me where i can take my 4x4 now? I am glad it is still open though according to my realtor. And, they feel it won't actually go into effect... good...

  • ladyblue Jul 19, 2007

    I have not denied one once of my freedom. Freedom is the things promised us in the constitution and no where does it say let the kids run their ORV allover the beach. Ever been walking and had that sand blow on you from the tires of some jerk wanting his/her freedom to do a spin out? Those few of species you are referring to are called endangered species and actually they do have a legal right to be on that beach. You have plenty of freedoom left, enjoy the beach walking or go to a place that alows ORVs.

  • Jake Wildstar Jul 19, 2007

    cougar, thanks bro. I will,

  • Mcougar Jul 19, 2007

    ORV"s are aloowed at Carolina Beach north end with a permit purchased for $40.00 at different places such as the convenient store "The Scotchmen" along Canal Drive. Also you can drive on the south end at Fort Fisher also with a permit, purchased at the bathhouse there at Fort Fisher for $40.00. Both last for a year and are well worth it. Enjoy your fishing and visit to Carolina Beach.