Seashore Advisory Commission to Meet Again; Future Still Uncertain

WELLFLEET – The Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission will meet for just the second time this year later this month, after receiving permission from the Department of the Interior.

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 in the spring of 2017.

The first meeting in June came after a 15-month hiatus.

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.

Advisory Commission Chairman Richard Delaney said he is pleased they get to meet again, but that the future remains cloudy.

“There is still yet one more big hurdle for the Advisory Commission and that is to get a piece of legislation passed that would reauthorize us to meet legally into the future even after the September 24 meeting,” Delaney said.

Legislation that reauthorized the commission for the last ten years 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.

Congressman William Keating (D-Bourne) has sponsored a bill which would reauthorize the commission for another ten years. The legislation is currently in the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands.

The reauthorization legislation has expired before. The previous 10-year reauthorization which expired on September 26, 2018 was signed into law by President Barack Obama in March of 2009.

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.

“We’ve been a tremendous forum and a key piece of bring the six communities together with the federal agency,” Delaney said. “It’s been nothing but good. We have been transparent. We’ve been helpful and we’ve resolve lots of issues.”

Delaney said the commission has helped resolve issues with jet skis, dune shacks and off-road vehicles.

“All the recommendations that we have ended up making over the last several decades have been accepted by the National Park Service and have been successful,” he said.

All of the National Park Service advisory commissions were banned from meeting in the spring of 2017 for review. The National Seashore Advisory Committee remains one of just three out of more than 200 similar commissions which have not been fully reinstated by the Department of the Interior.

“I for one cannot think of why this administration would not want us to meet,” Delaney said.

The Boston Harbor Islands National Park Advisory Committee has also not been fully reinstated, along with another in New Jersey.

Delaney hopes the reason is not politically motivated, but said it can’t be ruled out.

“We’ll take this one [meeting.] We’ll be happy, but we need to get the legislation passed and then we really need to get back in business on a regular basis going forward,” he said.

The September 24 meeting of the Advisory Commission is at 1 p.m. at the Seashore Headquarters and it is open to the public.


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