National Seashore Advisory Commission Meets, Uncertain Future Remains

WELLFLEET – The Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission met for the first time in 15 months last week.

The commission, which advises the superintendent and the federal government on how to best manager the park, was suspended and placed under review by the Trump Administration last spring.

The meeting was authorized by the Department of the Interior and commissioners were able to catch up, meet the new Superintendent and discuss how the park will respond to the damage that has occurred over the past year.

They also discussed a few issues regarding seabird management plans that are still in development and commercial properties that needed licenses to be reissued.

“We went through a long 2 and a half hour agenda,” said Richard Delaney, the chairman of the commission.

“In part because we are not absolutely sure we will have a chance to meet again this year, honestly, or ever.”

The commission was created at the time of the formation of the Cape Cod National Seashore by the National Park Service as there was resistance from Cape Cod towns. The commission is made up of one representative from each of the six towns, two representatives from the state and two representing Barnstable County.

It usually meets every other month except during the summer.

Delaney said Congressman William Keating (D-Bourne) has been terrific in working to get to the Department of the Interior to allow the commission to meet.

The commission will attempt to meet again on September 24. That meeting would also need to be approved by federal officials.

“Hopefully they will say yes again,” Delaney said.

Because the commission is a federally approved advisory council upcoming meetings need to be advertised in the federal register and the only ones who can do that are top officials with the Department of the Interior.

The long-term future of the commission is also murky as its ten-year reauthorization is set to expire on September 26.

The commission was created by statute and exists by law. Commission members are worried that the statute will not be reauthorized.

Keating has sponsored a bill which would reauthorize the commission for another ten years. The legislation is in the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands.

“The congressman’s next big challenge is to get that law reauthorized and passed through Congress to allow us to have the Congressional authority to meet for the next number of years,” Delaney said.

Delaney said they have not been able to get any explanations on why they commission has not been able to meet regularly.

Almost all of the advisory commissions across the country which were suspended last year for review have been given the authorization to operate.

“We go from meeting to meeting,” Delaney said. “It’s been hugely frustrating for us.”

Last week’s meeting was the 370th of the commission since its formation.

“It’s a great forum,” Delaney said.

The commission has helped many superintendents deal with controversial issues through neutral, open discussion.

“We are doing everything right. We have proven our usefulness,” Delaney said.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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