National Seashore Advisory Commission Set to Meet, Uncertainty Remains

HYANNIS – The Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission recently received authorization to meet for first time in more than a year, but its future beyond the summer remains murky.

The commission which advises the seashore superintendent and federal government was suspended and placed under review by the Trump Administration last May.

“High level officials, apparently right from Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office at the Department of Interior, have assured Congressman William Keating and others that they will approve us having – at least – one meeting,” said Richard Delaney, the chairman of the National Seashore Advisory Commission.

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.

“This forum provides an opportunity to have really safe, open, transparent discussions about the town’s interests and federal interests,” Delaney said. “The Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission has been an integral part of Cape Cod National Seashore since Day 1.”

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

“Even if we meet in June and another one or two meetings before the fall, by September the statute that created and gives us authorization to meet expires and needs to be reauthorized,” Delaney said.

The reauthorization must be approved by Congress, the Department of the Interior and the President.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” Delaney said.

All but three of the hundreds of advisory commissions around the country which were suspended last year for review have been given approval to operate. Two of the three commissions are the National Seashore and the Boston Harbor Islands Advisory Council.

“I’m not sure what is going on – if there is some vindictive stuff going on here or some political stuff – but it really does not feel right,” Delaney said.

Delaney said there have not been any reasons to suspend the commission.

“All of our meetings have been transparent. They have been productive,” Delaney said. “We’ve dealt with controversial issues but we ourselves have not been confidential. So there is no reason in my mind or any of the other members’ minds why we should be suspended.”

Delaney said not being allowed to meet for a year and a half has been frustrating and that he is looking forward to June 18.

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