Sea Turtles at the Padre Island National Seashore Need Your Help!

by Carole Allen, Gulf Office Director

A few years ago, residents and tourists near the Padre Island National Seashore were ecstatic that the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles were finally coming back to nest. It was a victory for the environment that would bring thousands of visitors to the Corpus Christi area. Now a group of selfish fishermen are rejecting a common sense compromise and want to drive too fast on the National Seashore putting nesting sea turtles, children, families and pets at risk! No one is denying access to them, just asking all drivers to slow down during the nesting season of the sea turtles and camping season for visitors.

In 2009, as numbers of nesting ridleys increased, the superintendent at Padre Island National Seashore lowered the vehicle speed limit on the entire beach from 25 to 15 mph from April 1 to July 31-four months-which covered the entire Kemp's ridley nesting season. A vocal group of surf fishermen said they didn't like that idea. The Park then called for an Environmental Assessment (EA), which is underway.

In 2010, in the spirit of compromise, the superintendent shortened the length of speed reduction to April 15 to July 5-2.7 months-which this year did cover the nesting season. This isn't good enough for the fishermen who are trying to whip up public sentiment against a common sense approach at the Seashore. The comment period has been reopened until September 29.

Please take a moment to send an e-mail to: pais_superintendent@nps.gov

The choices are:

1. No action.
2. A seasonal 15 mph speed limit for the entire beach beginning at the occurrence of the first Kemp's ridley turtle nest observed within the park or April 15 -whichever is earlier- through the end of the Kemp's ridley nesting season.

3. A 15 mph speed limit from March 1 through November 30 for the entire beach. Outside of these dates (i.e.from December 1 through February 28), the speed limit from MM 2.5 south to Mansfield Channel would be 25 mph.

#2 or #3 would be common sense choices that would protect sea turtles, campers, children, pets and staff.  Send an e-mail to pais_superintendent@nps.gov asking for slower traffic during the nesting season.  Thank you!

Sea Turtle Restoration Project • PO Box 370 • Forest Knolls, CA 94933, USA
Phone: +1 415 663 8590 • Fax: +1 415 663 9534 • info@seaturtles.org
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