The State Parks Fishing Advisory Board (FAB) continues to meet virtually due to limitations imposed by Covid-19, with the most recent meeting taking place on January 27. The FAB encourages anglers with ideas, comments, and problems to contact FAB members. Current members are Bill “Doc” Muller (email@example.com), Fred Golofaro (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ross Squire (email@example.com), Louis DeRicco (firstname.lastname@example.org, Bob Danielson (email@example.com) and Chuck Hollins (firstname.lastname@example.org, along with managers of Long Island’s State Parks, 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.
Enforcement continues to be a topic of discussion as problems were exasperated this summer by the many people seeking outdoor recreation due to the pandemic. Among the issues were lack of proper permits, fires and littering on the beaches, driving into dune areas, and lack of fishing equipment as required by the beach access permit. Park police did the best they could but they were stretched thin by other duties such as staffing the Jones Beach vaccination site. They were supported by 24 seasonal Park Rangers which helped staff entrances and check for violations at 4×4 access locations at Sore Thumb and Gilgo. According to Lt. Goodman, they are hoping to expand the number of rangers to 33 this season.
The board was updated on capital improvements such as the Montauk Lighthouse revetment project and the Hempstead Lake GOSR (Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery) Project. The Montauk project involves the redeployment of existing boulders and the addition of new 10 to 15-ton boulders to create two flat surface tiers to better protect the lighthouse from erosion, and to improve recreational access to the area. The lower tier will be ten feet above sea level and serve as a fishing platform. The upper level will be 25 feet above sea level and will allow tourists and visitors safe access around the base of the lighthouse. The project should be getting underway sometime in March or soon after, and is expected to take two years. The area under the light will be off limits during construction but access to Turtle Cove will be maintained.
The Hempstead Lake project will result in greatly expanded access around the lake’s shoreline, as well as the two ponds north of Southern State Parkway. There will be expanded parking to make the lakes and ponds more accessible, the creation of trails along shorelines, a new crossing at Schodack Brook Bridge to allow users to traverse the entire park from north to south, docks for fishing and a kayak launch area.
The Captree to Jones Beach Bicycle Path has been completed and was scheduled for its official opening in early February. The path opens up miles of productive back-bay shoreline to those willing to peddle their way to these under-fished areas, and creates easy access for those with electric powered bikes, which have become increasingly popular with the surf crowd the last few years.
Board members have been pushing for a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), similar to one in place along Massachusetts’ beaches, to be put in place for our State Park beaches. It must be reviewed and approved by U.S. Fish & Wildlife and would allow for less restrictive access during plover season. Board members reviewed the plan and requested answers to a number of questions. Waiting to hear back.
The 4×4 entrance area to Gilgo State Park has been badly damaged by the numerous coastal storms of the past few months. Parts of the old Coast Guard Station are exposed and the area is not currently accessible as is. Tim Byrne, superintendent of Captree/Robert Moses, noted that if the area does not build up naturally in time for the season, they would consider trucking in sand to build it back up in order to restore access.
The board also requested State Parks explore any possible opportunities, including an out of the way section of the Bayard Cutting Arboretum, for the creation of a kayak/hand launch site with access to the tidal reaches of the Connetquot River. The river offers some unique fishing opportunities for white perch, sea run trout and winter-over striped bass during a time (late fall through spring) when fishing opportunities in our region become quite limited.