Cape Hatteras National Seashore officials today closed Cape Point to off-road vehicles. Deputy Superintendent Darrell Echols made the announcement, which he termed a "temporary" ORV access closure of the popular Cape Point area in accordance with the requirements of the consent decree.
On March 18, 2011, just south of Ramp 44 along the ocean shoreline, National Park Service staff observed piping plover breeding behavior, which is the reason for the closure. The width of the beach is very narrow in the area commonly known as "the bypass" and the required consent decree buffer of 50-meters to the north and south resulted in the full beach closure. There currently is not an alternative ORV access route to Cape Point. Because of the steep beach slope, pedestrians will be allowed to walk through the inter-tidal zone to access Cape Point.
This is the earliest that Cape Point has been closed to ORV access under the consent decree - or perhaps ever. Last year, ORV access wasn't stopped until mid-May when the first piping plover nest in the Cape Point area hatched. In 2009, ORV traffic to the Point was stopped because of nesting oystercatchers just south of Ramp 44. And in 2008, ORV access to Cape Point was closed the first week in May, just after the consent decree was signed, because of courting oystercatchers.
For more information on beach access, see: http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/off-road-vehicle-use.htm
or call 252-472-2111, ext. 148.