Negotiated Rulemaking for Fire Island National Seashore, NY

CBI conducts an issues assessment and manages a negotiated rulemaking process to develop recommendations for new rules governing off-road motor vehicle use within the Fire Island National Seashore.

Background and Challenges

Fire Island National Seashore was established in 1964 to preserve the only developed barrier island in the U.S. without roads. Fire Island is home to the endangered piping plovers and numerous other coastal flora and fauna, and fragile dunes and dune grass that protect the main shoreline of southern Long Island from the pounding Atlantic surf. Fire Island is also home to a few hundred families who live there year round and 17 thriving villages where tens of thousands of visitors come each year to get away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan New York. There are no roads within the Park. However, a complex set of rules has been established around driving off-road to ensure telephones work, garbage is hauled away, year round residents can lead their lives, and public safety can be protected while protecting natural resources and beauty of the Island.

In response to concerns of local residents, visitors, and staff, the Superintendent of the Fire Island National Seashore sought to explore the possibility of building consensus on new regulations for off-road motor vehicle use within the Park. The National Park Service retained CBI and Environmental Mediation Services (EMS) to conduct a conflict assessment and, based on the outcome of the assessment, possibly convene and mediate a negotiated rulemaking procedure.

The CBI Approach

After conducting an issues assessment, CBI recommends that the National Seashore move forward with a negotiated rulemaking process. CBI then manages this process and facilitates the Fire Island Off-Road Driving Regulation Negotiating Committee.

CBI conducted an issues assessment, and, based on the results, CBI concluded that a consensus-based negotiation to improve the current vehicle use regulations and their implementation could be convened and would be likely to succeed.

Following the assessment, the Fire Island Off-Road Driving Regulation Negotiating Committee was established. Committee members included year-round residents, part-time residents, various Island organizations, contractors, garbage and fuel haulers, ferry companies, utilities, and environmental and visitor groups.

As the regulatory negotiation process began, the parties realized the difficulties of regulating driving for year-round residents, contractors, providers of essential services, and many others, all while seeking to protect natural resources, endangered species, and the unique roadless character of the Island.

The Committee first reached agreement on a broad set of negotiating principles and guidelines. This framework provided the “structure” for the committee to further develop detailed proposals for regulating seasons of driving, locations of driving, and permitting requirements and procedures.

The Committee then met in numerous subcommittees to hash out various driving issues and concerns. Year-round residents wanted to ensure that their and their children’s lives could be maintained. East End residents wanted to ensure that they could protect endangered species, but also exist when ferry service was not available. The Park Service wanted to ensure the new regulations met federal regulations and Park Service national policy and guidelines.

Results

CBI helps the Negotiating Committee reach consensus on recommendations for a new set of off-road driving regulations.

Through numerous intensive, two day meetings, the Committee drafted and redrafted a single text “consensus agreement.” After more than a year of hard work, the Fire Island Off-Road Driving Regulation Negotiating Committee reached consensus on an agreement to guide the drafting of new off-road driving regulations.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/NeilR