40 groups oppose plan to change access to N.J. beaches
May 25, 2011By Phil Gregory
More than 40 groups are opposing a change to New Jersey's beach access rules.
Environmental, fishing, and beach access advocates say the proposal to allow each town to make its own plan will limit how the public can get to the waterfront.
"These rules assume that towns have the best intentions to provide beach access, and history clearly proves otherwise," said Doug O'Malley, field director for Environment New Jersey. "Instead of letting towns submit rules that will effectively say 'keep out' and allow the DEP to rubberstamp them, the governor should send these rules back to the drawing board."
Helen Henderson, policy advocate for the American Littoral Society, said removing state standards will allow Shore towns to limit access to the beach.
"New Jersey residents and visitors alike should be able to go to the beach or Shore where they want, when they way," said Henderson. "We shouldn't have to check what towns want us more than others, who's made it more convenient to park, or who has the closest rest rooms."
And Paul Harris, president of the New Jersey Beach Buggy Association, said allowing towns to make their own public access plans will have a negative effect on people who go to the Shore for surf fishing.
"If municipalities change or close parking or beach access and times of access, this would affect the economy and also the surf fishermen by keeping people from other states coming to New Jersey to surf fish and spend their money here," Harris said.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is gathering public input to determine whether to implement the new rules.
Opponents say if the new rules are approved, they will go to court to challenge them.