Public Access

by George Browne
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association July 2020 Newsletter)

This month’s column will be short. There is not much going on.

First, though, if you have a public access issue, you can email me at publicaccess@jcaa.org. I will need your name and a way to contact you. Please send me the access location and some details about what happened and whether you were denied access, or it was someone you know. We need facts and, if you live locally, information about contacting the town to hear what they have to say. If contacting the town does not help resolve the issue, I will help you file a public access complaint with DEP. We can also file a complaint for you. However, we cannot do it alone. We need you to be available to speak with DEP to give them firsthand details. Some public access complaints have come to me via Facebook and I have been able to follow up on a few of them. Posting to social media and having people comment with complaints is not going to fix the problem. Getting involved and acting on the issue can. And, unless you tell us about the issue, we know nothing about it and cannot get it resolved.

In the past month, we have seen the towns opening parking and fishing access, but it does not mean that there are no access issues. Some of the towns tried banning non-residents from parking. Others banned all on street parking and we saw Manasquan Inlet shut down on both sides of the inlet.

During those restrictions, calls were made, or emails were sent to the mayors or business administrators in towns where access was being denied. We had some successes. In other cases, emails and letters went to DEP as public access complaints. Often, we saw the towns drag their feet on re-opening fishing access or parking. It has been frustrating, but it is improving.

In addition to JCAA, there were several groups that worked on access including Surfrider Foundation COBRA, CRAB, the Berkeley Striper Club, and the American Littoral Society. It has been a good coalition and different groups have taken the lead for different locations.

The piping plovers are nesting, and their eggs are hatching. Once the chicks fledge, we should see beaches being opened again. I have some contacts at NJ F&W who manage the endangered specifies program and I have been watching the plovers at Island Beach State Park. If you have another area that is closed for piping plovers and want to know when it will reopen, I can send an email and get an idea of what the target date is. However, that date is not written in stone, it all depends on the birds. If the nest is on federal property, the re-opening date is usually sometime in September.

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