Cape Point
2:40 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Cape Point Closed To Off-Road Vehicles

Cape Point, south of Buxton
Credit Google

One of the most popular sections of the Cape Hatteras seashore is off limits for vehicles for the next few months. The Cape Point area south of Buxton is the migratory home to the piping plover, a nationally- recognized threatened species.

In 2011, the park service implemented a vehicle management plan that requires a 75 foot buffer zone be put up to prevent off-roaders from driving near the birds.

For the last six years, the area has remained off-limits to drivers, on average, for 108 days. Last year was the longest the birds nested in recent memory, with the closure running from early April until late August.

"Every year it's different," said Cyndy Holda, with the National Parks Service. "Wildlife populations are not as predictable as one would like to think because weather conditions will alter their breeding behavior and patterns."

Holda says rough weather can actually blow the first set of nests away, leading the plovers to try and nest again for a second brood.

A piping plover
Credit Alice Van Zoeren 2005 / National Parks Service

Cape Point is still accessible by foot. Holda also says about 23 miles of the Cape Hatteras seashore remains open for off-road vehicles for much of the summer.

Last year nine piping plover nests were found on Hatteras Island beaches, the lowest number since 2009.