Last week I got word about a beach access issues in northern Ocean County. Beach access has been an ongoing issue for many years but this time it has “new roots”. Due to a native plant growth, there is new concerns and possibly action coming down the pike. What’s taking place could set precedence and eventually take root on Long Beach Island. Before we know it a full fledged campaign with big money backers and radical environmental groups could spark up and then life as we know it is gone.
Listen Up Any & All Jersey Surfcasters, Especially those who utilize 4×4 Beach Buggy Access!
Seabeach Amaranth is a native plant to New Jersey’s barrier island beaches. It is typically found on the upper beaches, dunes and in over wash areas. In 1993 the plant was listed as threatened under the US Endanger Species Act. NJ’s highest concentrations of plants are at Sandy Hook’s Gateway National Recreation Area. But recently more plants have been found on beaches of southern Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The plant, Seabeach Amaranth is now being talked about and possible action limiting 4×4 beach buggy access is a possibility.
Brick Beach 4×4 Access In Jeopardy
This whole controversy sparked with the state and feds pushing local municipalities, in this case Brick Township to restrict access and even cease beach buggy permits. Brick’s Mayor Ducey shared, “US Fish & Wildlife contacted us and said we had to eliminate beach buggy access.” Town council said, “No way! There has to be another way!” Township engineer got involved with suggestions and basically a settlement. What is sounds like is to keep the beach buggy access/ordinance there will be a limitation on dates, required signage, fenced off areas and also constant enforcement of any violations by police. Ducey and town council did not want to make any changes to the beach buggy ordinance but was forced to give concessions to the federal government in order to keep 4×4 access. Mayor Ducey said, “The council agreed that the permit with the restrictions was better than eliminating it and that is why there is a new ordinance.”
For all that can please attend the Brick Town Council Meeting, at Municipal Hall on Chambers Bridge Road, Tuesday July 26th at 7pm. Show up to respectfully ensure the fisherman’s voice is heard to ensure fishing access in Brick Beach, the state of NJ and the entire Striper Coast!
Signage and fencing of the sensitive areas is the logical thing to do to ensure public awareness and access. Also it would be rational to provide an informational postcard when buying beach permits. But, cutting back 4×4 access from October 1st – April 30th to November 30 – March 15th is unacceptable! This cuts out the entire spring surf fishing season and the majority of the fall surf fishing season too. Also beach access must be protected and preserved by having thoughtfully worded ordinances. They must not be vague!
Mixed Up Finger Pointing At The Beach
The Brick Beach situation is the tip of the iceberg and what action the town takes, possibly pushing back fighting the state and feds will set precedence for the coastal municipalities of the Jersey Shore.
The state and feds are pointing fingers at anglers and their 4×4 beach buggies. But who is really to blame? Anglers are not fishing and driving in the high beach area and dunes. Those ones who should be taking the heat is all of those parties associated with the beach replenishment projects as well as beach maintenance!
Major Threats To Seabeach Amaranth
What are the major threats to Seabeach Amaranth?
- Beach replenishment
- Pedestrian traffic
- 4×4 access
- Beach Maintenance – Raking
All summer the Jersey Shore beaches are raked to keep the soft sand clean from seaweed and litter. This municipal raking at the foot of the dunes is the major threat to beach plants and it limits the natural widening of the dune. Also lifeguards and township public works vehicles daily drive the high beach line commonly at the foot of the dune to avoid beach goers. If Seabeach Amaranth was an issue on the areas of the beach where rakes and these vehicles travel daily why didn’t the alarm sound sometime in the 90’s. Why now?
This same area is where beach goers (pedestrian) use the beach and walk on at designated access points (most of which are fenced). This is also the exact same areas are where 4×4 beach buggies access and use the beach. The low and high dunes are and have always been closed off. Sensitive areas of beaches should be fenced off for public awareness.
Now we are basically left with two major threats; storms and beach replenishment. We can’t stop storms so the elephant in the room is Beach Replenishments! And what a co-incidence another round is slates to repave our beaches very soon.
The whole Jersey Coast has been re-engineered and fortified with little regard for the environmental impacts to fisheries, flora and fauna. When I was a kid, not many years ago, there were big pine trees on the dunes, lots of shrubs, vines and large grasses. There was once a living dune with strong and deep roots, as well as lots of animals. Now, even years after our “new dunes” don’t have a real foundation and just blow – wash away. The beaches were also built in such a way that the gentle slow slope profile natural to LBI was blatantly ignored. Due to this, any type of storm and mild erosion chews out the dunes and the event looks catastrophic and news worthy. This all plays into their job security and master plan of routine replenishment ruining the fishing, surfing and communities during and for a handful of years after.
So who’s really to blame?