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Public Statements

Conservation and Economic Growth Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JONES. I thank the chairman for his support of this provision in this bill.

The title of my provision is the Preserving Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Act. The Cape Hatteras act is about jobs. Its about taxpayers' rights to access the recreational areas they own. It's about restoring balance and common sense to National Park Service management.

This language would overturn a final rule implemented by the Park Service earlier this year that excessively restricts taxpayers' access to the Cape Hatteras seashore and is unnecessary to protect the wildlife. It would reinstitute the Park Service's 2007 interim management strategy to govern visitor access and species protection at Cape Hatteras. The interim strategy was backed by a 113-page biological opinion issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which found that it would not jeopardize piping plover, sea turtles, or other species of concern.

In addition to adequately protecting wildlife, this bill would give taxpayers more reasonable access to the land they own. It would reopen 26 miles of beach that are now permanently closed to motorized beach access and give seashore managers flexibility to implement more balanced measures that maximize both recreational access and species protection.

By doing so, this bill would reverse the significant job loss and economic decline that Hatteras Island has experienced. I want to repeat that, Mr. Chair: by doing so, the bill would reverse the significant job loss and economic decline that Hatteras Island has experienced since the Park Service cut off access to the most powerful area of the seashore.

My bill and now this bill has bipartisan support in Dare County. The county commissioners in Dare County are predominantly Democrats. They support this bill 100 percent. They ask that this bill move through the House. I am pleased to say that the North Carolina Senators, Republican Senator Richard Burr and Democrat Senator Kay Hagan, have introduced a companion bill that says exactly on the Senate side what this bill says on the House side. The bill is also supported by a national sportsmen's group, including the American Sportfishing Association and the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.

Mr. Chair, that's why I am honored today to be on the floor with my colleagues to support this legislation. It is time for the taxpayers to be considered, and it's time that we protect the species that are endangered. This is a balanced piece of legislation, not just talking about my aspect of it, but the bill itself. So I hope that my colleagues will support this legislation in a bipartisan way, and let's send this bill to the Senate.


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