RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The National Park Service has money to improve beach access at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The money comes from fees that people have been paying to drive on the beach, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Those fees have generated about $2 million a year.
The park service plans to spend between $8 million and $12 million to build boardwalks, foot trails, observation platforms, off-road vehicle ramps and 139 parking spaces on N.C. 12, which stretches along the 67-mile seashore on the Outer Banks.
"Parking areas are important," said Walker Golder, assistant state director for the Audubon Society. "Otherwise, people end up parking on the side of the road and getting stuck in the sand and all that stuff, just trying to go to the beach."
The route over the hot sand dunes includes cactus and thorn bushes.
"That means trampling the vegetation, which lessens the ability of the dune to hold up during storm surges," said Barclay Trimble, seashore superintendent for Hatteras.
The park service is accepting comments on the plan until Aug. 2. Public meetings are set in Avon on July 16 and in Ocracoke on July 17.
Construction could start next spring and could be done in phases over 15 years.
About 2 million people visit the barrier islands each year.
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