The State Parks Fishing Advisory Board’s (FAB) most recent meeting was again virtual due to limitations imposed by Covid-19, with the most recent meeting taking place on April 28. The FAB encourages anglers with ideas, comments, and problems related to fishing access within the Long Island State Park system to contact FAB members. Current members are Bill “Doc” Muller (firstname.lastname@example.org), Fred Golofaro (email@example.com), Ross Squire (firstname.lastname@example.org), Louis DeRicco (email@example.com, Bob Danielson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Chuck Hollins (email@example.com, along with the managers of each of Long Island’s State Parks, Regional Director Kevin Connelly and Deputy Regional Director Monica Martinez, representatives from the Parks Recreation Department and State Parks Police. Among the groups represented on the board are LIBBA, Montauk Surfcasters Association and New York Coalition for Recreational Anglers.
As was the case with our last meeting, due to the problems generated by the many people seeking outdoor recreation since the start of the pandemic, enforcement was again a major topic of conversation. Unfortunately, as the restrictions resulting from the pandemic ease, the problems have the potential to increase. The answer is likely in the numbers. In 2019, around 18,000 Beach Vehicle permits were sold. That number dropped to around 16,000 last year. This year that number soared to 26,187, plus 500 non-resident and 3,000 4×4 surfing permits. The weekend of May 22-23 was just plain ugly at Democrat Point. At times, the access road resembled the LIE at rush hour and there were an uncountable number of vehicles stuck throughout both days. Several times there were as many as three vehicles stuck simultaneously within eyesight. The majority of the vehicles did not have permits displayed on their dash, nor were any fishing rods or surfboards visible. It was also obvious by the number of stuck vehicles that many people were not airing down.
With staffing at 4×4 entrances beginning Memorial Day weekend, things should improve dramatically. State Parks and Park Police are working diligently to improve enforcement. A request to Albany for budgeting to support a five-man Beach Patrol that would be solely responsible for enforcement at Democrat Point, Sore Thumb and Gilgo has been submitted to Albany. We are keeping our fingers crossed that it is approved. You can help by writing, calling or visiting your state senator or assembly member and ask them to lobby for increased funding for Long Island State Parks. Our parks are responsible for the largest contribution to state coffers, yet we are constantly shortchanged on the budget end. If you are planning on fishing any of these beaches this summer, I would advise you to get there early as they are likely to fill to capacity very quickly, especially on weekends. The tallies for other fishing related permits so far for 2021 were 4,100 Sportfishing/Night Fishing Permits and 1600 Camp Hero Permits. All become available again the Tuesday after Labor Day.
Gilgo Beach was replenished with 5,000 cubic yards of sand near the entrance, which resulted in that stretch of beach being accessible by the April 1 opening date. Kudos to state parks for getting this done and keeping Gilgo accessible. The Demo Bar was also opened to driving approximately half way out to the tip of the bar. This stretch of beach was completely shut down last year, making it difficult for some to access the most productive stretch of water in the area – the rip at the tip. Kudos again to Tim Byrne and his staff for making this possible. As of this writing in late May, the area remained open, but piping plovers may become a factor at some point.
Among other issues discussed, the Montauk Revetment Project should be underway by the time you are reading. Boulders are being trucked at the rate of eight trucks a night, and access to Turtle Cove will be maintained during construction. Scotts should remain accessible until the fall. The target date for completion is Valentine’s Day, 2023. Discussions on the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), which would reduce restrictions in plover nesting areas, are ongoing.
Requests for early morning access to the Heckscher State Park boat ramp is under consideration, as is creation of a cartop/kayak launch site on the tidal section of Connetquot River, possibly within the Arboretum property.
The Captree to Jones Beach bicycle path is open and it has been confirmed that electric bikes are permissible on the path. This is good news for anglers with these bikes who can now access many miles of backside shoreline which have gone pretty much untouched by shore bound anglers.