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U.S. House Lifts Beach Driving Restrictions

A bill that would re-open parts of Cape Hatteras to vehicles has passed the U.S. House.

Gurnal Scott: The legislation includes North Carolina congressman Walter Jones' bill lifting restrictions on access. The Federal Lands and Water Projects Bill overturns National Park Service rules keeping off-road vehicle traffic from a large part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Congressman Jones says this bill will have a positive effect on one of the state's top tourist areas.

Rep. Walter Jones: It would re-open 26 miles of beach that are now permanently closed to vehicle access and give seashore mangers flexibility to implement more balanced measures that maximize both recreational access and species protection.

The Southern Environmental Law Center says Jones' is focused too much on tourism. Senior attorney Julie Youngman says protecting the habitat has always been her organization's top priority.

Julie Youngman: That's part of what the management plan does is set aside portions of the seashore to be vehicle-free areas. And that's for the benefit of pedestrians and for nesting and breeding wildlife.

The bill now moves over to the Senate. Youngman says she is aware that both Senator Richard Burr and Senator Kay Hagan are in support of lifting the Hatteras vehicle restrictions.

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