The National Park Service wants to hear from the public about plans to create more beach access points at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
A series of three meetings starts today in Nags Head. The agency plans to use funds from fees it charges to drive on the beach to build new parking lots, ramps for off-road vehicles, and boardwalks. The National Park Service says the plan represents a balance between easy access to the beach and federal protections for coastal wildlife.
"There are stretches that are sometimes four and five miles long, where there may be some limited access, but it's not readily accessible," says Cyndy Holda, spokeswoman for the Outer Banks Group of the NPS.
"And if a bird closure or a turtle nest closes one end of that, it makes it more difficult to access it."
The National Park Service has raised about $2 million a year from driving permit fees. North Carolina's U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan as well as U.S. Rep. Walter Jones have introduced a bill that would open more areas to off-road vehicles. Environmental groups say that would threaten wildlife. Beach driving and fishing groups say it would boost the Outer Banks' economy.
Public meetings continue Tuesday in Avon and Wednesday in Ocracoke.