Cape Hatteras

United Four Wheel Drive Associations has been involved in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Off-Road Vehicle management planning from 2005 until present.

UFWDA became involved in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area (CAHA) Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Rulemaking because its outcome would steer National Park Service ORV planning in all units, particularly those identified by a 1998 petition by environmentalists, known as the Bluewater Petition.  When the CAHA project began in 2006 there were 5 similar units undertaking ORV management.  Only CAHA has utilized negotiated rulemaking.


At the outset UFWDA feared that local and national environmental organizations would hold the process hostage based on prior experience with extreme environmental groups who consistently refuse to negotiate in good faith.  Click here to read more about environmental groups who sue, but asking a big question about what do they actually “do” to help the species they pledge to protect.

CAHA unique history guaranteed recreational access to the seashore through its enabling legislation based upon promises asserted in 1952 by then Director of the National Park Service, Conrad L. Wirth.

Due to the contentious nature of ORV use and species protection management at CAHA, the unit undertook Negotiated Rulemaking to try to bring various stakeholders together to reach unanimous consensus on a planning alternative that would meet the needs of all the stakeholders reached through earnest compromise.  UFWDA applied for and was granted a seat on the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee convened by the Dept. of the Interior.   The process of negotiating is customarily referred to as RegNeg (regulatory negotiation).

Early in the process, but undertaken by NPS as a separate analysis, the NPS issued its Interim Protected Species Management Analysis. UFWDA responded early in the NEPA process by responding to scoping notice and again when the IPSM Environmental Analysis was issued.

The NPS convened the RegNeg committee in December of 2007.  The committee was comprised of 30 seats represented by various state and local government, local and national environmental groups, local and national four wheel drive groups, and other access and anti-access groups.  Click here to see the complete list of committee appointments. An interesting by-line to this committee is to note one of the “National Conservation Advocates” seats was granted to one person representing two organizations – Natural Resources Defense Council and The Wilderness Society.  This seat was granted to Destry Jarvis.  Destry Jarvis is the brother of the current Director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis, appointed on October 2, 2009 to that position.

The UFWDA 2008 update to its membership can be viewed here.


In 2007 the court ruled in favor of UFWDA and our recreational partners intervened in a lawsuit brought by Bluewater Network,  Wildlands Center for Preventing Road, National Parks Conservation, and other environmental groups.

On the heels of the lost legal battle of Bluewater Network, a suit was brought in October of 2007 by Defenders of Wildlife and National Audubon Society, by their attorney Southern Environmental Law Center. involving CAHA with the hopes of not only stopping ORV use but to change the “status quo” upon which future environmental analysis was conducted and to shape the structure and process of the negotiated rulemaking.

While it may appear on the surface that Defender’s and other self-professed “conservation organizations” are interested in species protection, the facts demonstrate they are really interested in preventing all ORV use and only protecting species as a means to an end – the end of ORV use on NPS units.

UFWDA predicted early on in the RegNeg process that the environmental organizations would not engage in meaningful compromise and negotiation.  Click here for maps visually demonstrating the trend where the environmental groups became more and more demanding for more and more closures and less and less compromise as the process moved on.

Once the RegNeg process was started, UFWDA requested that the litigants be removed from the RegNeg committee for violation of committee rules.

UFWDA requested its international members to unify one voice to protect ORV access through several advocacy initiatives to call congress to specifically support bills in Congress calling for protection of recreational access at CAHA.

UFWDA also spearheaded rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for violating closure orders in the area to demonstrate our commitment to responsible environmental stewardship and responsible recreation.


After several years and dozens of meetings, UFWDA, along with other pro-access groups including [insert names] completed the Reg Neg committee process by promulgating a proposed alternative for consideration in the analysis undertaken by the NPS.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2009 the NPS completed its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).  UFWDA responded to the DEIS on May 11, 2010.

A Final EIS (FEIS) is expected to be released by NPS prior to December, 2010.

Click here to see the devastating financial impacts the Defenders of Wildlife and National Audubon Society suit, brought by their attorney Southern Environmental Law Center has caused by the consent decree on the communities near Hatteras as a result of reduced OHV access to the area.