In the 1970s, anglers on Long Island, especially surf anglers, became increasingly concerned about declining budgets for L.I. State Parks, serious storm damage, increased vandalism, and declining access to shorelines. The late Scott Simons, the Managing Editor of The Fisherman and myself, with the support of L.I.F. owner Rich Reina Sr., made a trip to Albany to speak with Parks Commissioner Orin Lehman (commissioner for 18 years) about these issues. The result of this meeting was the establishment of the Fishing Advisory Board for State Parks in 1978. I was The Fisherman representative, along with people from several important groups including LIBBA and UMS. John Sheridan was the Long Island Regional Director at that time and although he was not keen on the board in the beginning, eventually became a big supporter of the F.A.B.
In those days we meet once a week, and because Sheridan wasn’t thrilled with the idea, F.A.B. meetings were unproductive and short, although we introduced many areas of concern. Then, several months after its inception, Sheridan began the meeting by informing us that night access to Robert Moses would no longer be possible because of $500,000 in vandalism. The vandalism was understood to be the result of patrons of the Oak Beach Inn who, intoxicated, drove over the bridge and for reasons that never make sense, vandalized the pavilions. The FAB requested time to seek a solution. Sheridan indicated that if we could find a way to end the vandalism, night access could continue. The fledgling FAB met privately several times a week for several weeks to find a way to prevent the damage. The idea arose to have people man a kiosk at the entrance to the Robert Moses Bridge. Each FAB member was given a different task: find the cost of a part time employee, how to find people for the kiosk at night, insurance costs, cost of the kiosk, walkie-talkies for workers, and finally a protocol for stopping and checking night access permits. We determined a cost of $83,000 for the system.
We presented our proposal in writing to Sheridan who studied it carefully and then smiled broadly. Robert Moses night access would continue. The FAB kiosk idea was so successful that parks added kiosks at other State Parks. Sheridan began to see the benefits that a devoted group of park users could be to him and L.I. State Parks. In the years that followed we helped solve a number of problems, helped parks with various projects, and along parks personnel, The Fisherman established a series of fishing contests designed to provide a unique experience for surf anglers as well as produce revenue used to benefit angling at the parks. The first use was to fund bait cleaning stations at Jones Beach and Robert Moses. I must point out how important Noel Kappauf (owner of the Captree State Park bait station) was to the success of these contests. Later, other contests were added that exist today and continue to fund special angling-related special needs at the park under the leadership of Fred Golofaro and the State Parks Recreation Department.
In the 40 years since FAB’s inception a cooperative relationship with parks has resulted in a long list of new access, including most recently Hallock Landing and Orient Beach State Park, fall access to RM 3 and 4, creation of the Green Island Fishing Access area, and projects such as lighting for the Captree Boat Ramp and fish attracting lights on the Jones Beach Piers. The complete list of successful projects and access outcomes is much too long for this brief discussion. Finally, the FAB encourages anglers with ideas, comments, and problems to contact FAB members or The Fisherman. Current members are Bill “Doc” Muller, Fred Golofaro, Ross Squire, Louis DeRicco, Bob Danielson, and Chuck Hollins, along with representatives from L.I. State Parks. Among the groups represented on the board are LIBBA, Montauk Surfcasters Association, and New York Coalition for Recreational Anglers.