Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing you

  • Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing yourself instead of taking photos of me.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beach Access, and the 4X4 issue

Cape Hatteras is in danger of losing it's 4X4 access again.
You can post your opinion on the mater at

I just did. Thank god, in Cape Hatteras, the fishermen, soccer moms and Surfers all work together. Here in NY; the fishermen seem to feel they are the only user group entitled to use the outer 4X4 beaches. This is an error, supported by a few vocal fishermen, who claim to speak for the rest of us. These fishing lobby's should work with, NOT against, all the other user groups.

The following is a letter I wrote to the Island Free Press Friday, April 4, 2008. The last time this issue came to a head; I believe it still rings true.


I packed my truck last night. This morning, my family and I will drive 12 hours to Cape Hatteras. We have been visiting Hatteras since the early 70’s. What I have always loved about the Outer Banks, is that I could do any thing there. My father shared his love of the ocean, sound, and marshes that are the cape’s barrier islands. My father is now retired to Cape Cod: I now live and work on Long Island. While we live in places that are similar to Cape Hatteras… They are still not that wonderfully special place where I learned how to play with its forces; [waves, wind, and, water]: Feed from its bounty: [fish, crab, and shellfish]; and stand in awe of its beauty. That’s why we keep coming back.
But if you ban four wheel drive access, you will make it impossible for me to share the same experience with my family that my father shared with me. Sure, you may need to limit or regulate 4X4 access. There are just too many SUV’s around today. But an outright ban is unnecessary! There are just too many of us who use 4X4 access responsibly who will be hurt in the process. We understand that the beach is a fragile and ever changing place, best accessed by foot, or by responsible four wheel access. The last thing you want is hard structures like roads and parking lots.
So, I will make my “pilgrimage” to the OBX today. I’ve already paid for my rental house. Because of this love for the Cape, we visit in the spring or fall. Any sunburned tourist can love the Cape in the summer…But we rent homes, and spend dollars when it is 50 degrees, 40 knots, and pouring rain. And we love it! Take away our access, and see how many of show up next season.

Postscript: Saturday April 24, 2010…

I am a member of Surfrider’s Central Long Island Chapter, The Long Island Beach Buggy Association, LIBBA, The North Shore Yacht Club, NSYC, the Long Island Beach Access Group, LIBAG, as well as an avid year round Waterman. I believe in 4X4 access not merely for convenience. Although that is part of it. [It is difficult to drag your family to the beaches I love, especially when some of your family are unable to walk one or two hundred yards. In one place I enjoy, the walk is over 2 miles].

I believe it is the flexibility of 4X4 access that makes it environmentally responsible. Barrier Islands are nothing more than shifting sand bars. They are constantly in motion. With responsible 4X4 access. you can better utilize the beaches they create and take away. If a certain area is eroding, or needs to be protected as a nursing or nesting area…you can simply close, or limit access to that beach. Temporarily; of course.

If you build “hard structures”: like buildings and roads: you are forced to engage in irresponsible dredge and fill operations, as well as poor beach management practices, like building bulkheads, and jetties. These practices do more harm than good. In many cases, they regressively use taxpayer money to subsidize, ie protect, some rich guys home, that should never have been built in the first place.

Tomorrow, I will attend a Dune Grass Planting at Gilgo beach in NY. As a 4X4 user, I fully support the closing of this, and other beaches to Off Road traffic right now. [Long Island beaches, where I live, took a real beating this winter.] So that is why I will be planting Dune Grass on Sunday. It will give the beach a fighting chance to replenish its self. And I will once again be able to drive on and access that beach at some point in the future.
It’s responsible 4X4 users like me; or some irresponsible rich guy with a million dollar home. You tell me what’s better for the Environment.

Thanks for listening,


chachi said...

my family also used to enjoy 4x4 beach access when I was young, and as a result I developed my love for the ocean and it's beaches. I remember the access issues concerning Montauk during the early 90's, where the fisherman would have lost entire beaches if it wasn't for the support of the surf community. It really is wrong that they have miles of their own exclusive play ground, but then again democrats wouldn't be so special if every surfer on the island drove out there on a regular basis. Have fun in Hatteras, I hope they resolve the offroad isssues down their.

McPhilly said...

Made my first trip to Gilgo of the year last night for a sunset surf session. Although the surf was small, and the weather a little cool, the evening was gorgeous and yielded another spectacular sunset.

Since it's been so long since I last surfed there, I was shocked at the amount of erosion. A beach that for a long time has been one of the rare, child-friendly shallow-shelving beaches is rapidly becoming a steep shelf beach, with deep channels close to shore. Once can only hope strong SW winds churn the waters, and some of the lost sand, back from West to East.

Anyway, on topic, it's sad that the Fisherman lobbying group see themselves as above us all and as the only group who deserve 4X4 access, or even exclusive access to some areas. We can all get along.

I've only had the pleasure of going 4X4 twice in 49 years. I was treated to it by Bill D. and a during certified windsurfing instructor triaining by Master Trainer Erik, on Ocracoke. Both were unforgettable experiences — and I firmly believe responsible 4X4 access should not be the sole privilege of one user group only.

Yes, there probably need to be checks and balances to ensure the 4X4 use is sustainable for the beach and its life forms — but not to just ONE user group.