Victory Sandy Hook by lifemate


"The park (National Park Service,                                                                 The Big Cove sits in what the NPS
Gateway National Rec    reational Area,                                                           calls "the critical zone". What
Sandy Hook Unit) appreciates the                                                                  makes this area critical is its prox-

time and ef fo rt that the Surfer's                                                               imity to the access road for the fort
Environmental Alliance and the                                                                    buildings and park resources.
Surfrider Foundation has taken to                                                                 During the past 20 years, in an
provide valuable input toward the                                                                 effort to protect that road, this area
design o this project...The park rec-                                                             has been renourished seven times

                                                  New Jersey
ognizes that waves and breaking sur   f                                                           with over 4,107,500 cubic yards of
are resources that are enjoyed by                                                                 sand, at a cost of over $40,000,000.
thousands of visitors each year.
                                                                                                  Each time the Cove has been filled
Through an open dialogue...we ha     ve
                                                                                                  in, the wave has been temporarily
made several changes in the design o  f
the interim beach fill p roject. These changes will allow the par
                                                                k                                 destroyed or degraded.
to protect the access road; parking lots and beach enters without       The renourishment plan
compromising the e   xisting wave...
                                                                        Since 1995,the beaches in Monmouth County south of Sandy
We are pleased that we could work tog                  roject to
                                     ether to design a p                Hook have been part of a massive, 28 mile, multi-billion dol-
satisfy the needs o the NPS, while at the same time working o  t        lar, renourishment project. This project has buried over 15
minimize any potential adverse effect on surfing in the Big             quality breaks and damaged countless others. Historic epicen-
Cove..."                                                                ters of Jersey surfing, once home to a thriving surf industry
                                                                        and culture, are now dead zones, devoid of surf. The loss of
Another significant victory for New Jersey surfers. Official
                                                                        surf, due to renourishment, has resulted in overcrowding at
recognition that the break at the Big Cove at Sandy Hook
                                                                        the remaining breaks throughout the region.
won't go the way of Killer Dana, USO, or countless others!
                                                                        The government’s 50 year plan calls for periodic renourish-
What saved the Cove? Collaboration, hours of committed
                                                                        ment at "hot spots" where erosion has continued. About a
grassroots activism, the Environmental Issues Team’s (EIT)
                                                                        year ago, in an attempt to save money and take advantage of
willingness to contribute their expertise and energy, political
                                                                        the equipment working immediately to its south, NPS pro-
savvy, and a demonstrated history of environmental activism.
                                                                        posed another plan to fill in the Cove. Surfers in the area
The process serves as a model for others.
                                                                        became incensed. No more! Not again. Enough is enough.
Sandy Hook and the Cove
                                                                        The coalition
Sandy Hook is a peninsula on the northernmost coast of New
                                                                        Monmouth County is the home of the Surfers Environmental
Jersey. "The Hook" has been an important part of American
                                                                        Alliance and Jersey Shore Chapter of the Su rf ri der
history. Its lighthouse served as a beacon before the
                                                                        Foundation. It was clearly time to join forces. Both groups
Revolutionary War. Fort Hancock, located at the northern
                                                                        had worked hard to establish identities, track records, and
tip, sat watch over New York Har bor from 1812 -1974. The
                                                                        educate the public about surfing and the surf community.
Fort is now home for a Coast Guard Station, a NOAA lab, a
                                                                        They had developed good working relationships with legisla-
Marine Sciences and Technology High School, the NPS
                                                                        tors,the media,and demonstrated an ability to work with the
offices, as well as other park resources.
                                                                        local and state governments. The Surfrider chapter had
This unique environment comprises seven miles of ocean                  proven it could even win in court. Years o f work, organiza-
beaches,salt marshes,sand dunes,a maritime forest and habi-             tion, and reputation building were being called into play in
tat for migratory birds. It is a peaceful natural outpost within        this collaborative effort.
clear view of the Manhattan skyline.
                                                                        In July of 2001 key members of both groups met for strategic
For surfers, one of the resources that makes The Hook special           planning. Even before the meeting much had already been
is the "Big Cove". This unique spot is the only p oint break in         accomplished. A comprehensive report had been prepared by
New Jersey. On the right swell the wave wraps around a man-             Andrew Mencinsky (SEA), now a Sea Bright, NJ councilman.
made rock point and peels over a rock reef with hollow p er-            Bill Rosenblatt (Surfrider), mayor of Loch Arbour, NJ, had
fection for 300 yards. It is a wave that, under the right condi-        been briefed on the Water Resources Development Act of
tions, can be compared with Rincon and Malibu.                          2000, by a member of US Senator Torrecelli's staff. That piece

making WAVES                                                        4
of federal legislation addresses renourish-    Congressman Pallone,and local activists      Volunteers went back to the Cove to get
ment projects. Contacts familiar with the      further clarified the issues. We asked the   the most accurate and up to date mea-
formal and informal workings of the            NPS to provide more specific detailed        surements, we reviewed the NPS
NPS, their policies, and procedures were       reports, studies and plans for further       Monitoring Sur vey, checking their data,
tapped. The session resulted in a plan and     review. After review, we'd confer again.     looking for inconsistencies, critiquing
the identification of key "talking points".                                                 their study methodology all in prepara-
                                               Everything stopped in the aftermath of
                                                                                            tion for our next meeting and comment
                                               9/11. The NPS and Coast Guard were
The agreements                                                                              letters.
                                               mobilized, reinforcing the critical need
Congressman Frank Pallone, no st ranger        for access to be maintained. Plans that      The December meeting at the
to the surfing community, played a vital       the ACOE were to provide were buried         Congressman's office was potentially
role in this victory. The Congressman, at      in their New York offices.                   explosive. Our goals were to express
the urging of Brian Unger (SEA), had                                                        anger and dismay with the breakdown of
                                               In late October, without a dvance warn-
agreed to arrange a meeting to open a                                                       the process, present our critique of the
                                               ing, before the requested material had
dialogue between "the surfers" and park                                                     NPS plan and EA, highlight the data
                                               been reviewed,and before our follow-up
superintendent, Russell Wilson. We'd                                                        inaccuracies, and lobby for a design pro-
                                               conference, the NPS released their plan
hoped to work toward a plan that could                                                      file developed by the EIT. We were deter-
                                               and Environmental Assessment (EA).
protect the access road, park resources,                                                    mined to let the NPS know that their
                                               Frustration, anger, and panic prevailed.
and save the break.                                                                         proposed plan would ruin the break,was
                                               What had happened to our agreement,
                                                                                            not supported by their own data, and
Our preliminary research and planning          our plan for working together? We had a
paid off. Congressman Pallone was con-                                                      that we were prepared to pursue our
                                               month to respond and comment.
                                                                                            cause in the media and courts.
vinced that the need to renourish might        Letters went out and calls were made
not be as dire as the NPS had portrayed.       requesting an extension. Congressman         Five separate comment letters opposing
The conditions had changed. He under-          Pallone's was urged to call a meeting,       the EA and plan were delivered to the
stood the project, as initially planned,       eventually held ten days before the          NPS. Letters from SEA, the Jersey Shore
would have adverse recreational impact         extended deadline. We began to ques-         Chapter of Surfrider, Surfrider's national
on this unique surfing resource. He also       tion the good faith of the NPS.              headquarters, Mike Walther, and Peter
officially acknowledged that the massive                                                    Howd, all stressing the same key points.
                                               Our December 8 strategy session was a
renourishment project, further south,                                                       Our sense of relief was short-lived.
                                               tense one. The le gal team was research-
had a disastrous impact on surfing.                                                         (continued on page 8)
                                               ing alternatives, just in case.
This p roductive first meeting resulted in
an agreement. The NPS would have
members of Surfrider's EIT consult with
their scientists to review the plans, assess
the impact on the break, offer alterna-
tives, and work cooperatively towards a
modified fill.
A joint press conference was held by Tom
O'Neill (Su rf ri der-NJ), Brian Unger,
Russell Wilson,and Congressman Pallone
to announce that all sides would work
together toward a solution.

Chad Nelsen, Surfrider's Environmental
Director, put together a team from the
EIT including; Mike Walther, P.E., Peter
Howd, Ph.D., and Rob Young, Ph.D. Each
was briefed, preliminary reports and
drawings were mailed, websites with
maps and aerial photographs identified,
and their education concerning the
specifics of the Cove and problem began.
                                                                                                                Dr. Bill Rosenblatt (top
A teleconference was scheduled in August                                                                        photo) and Ron jackson
during which EIT members, NPS scien-                                                                            (lower photo) surfing
                                                                                                                Sandy Hook
tists, (Dr.'s. Norbert Psuty and James                                                                          Photos: Ronnie Lower
All en ) , the park su peri n ten den t ,

                                                                  5                                                             making WAVES
        CHAPTER RECOGNITION AWARD WINNERS                                 Victory at Sandy Hook
                                                                          (continued from page 5)

                                                                          Sometime in January 2002 the NPS made it
                                                                          known, through Congressman Pallone's
         In 2001, Surfrider Foundation National Headquarters d evel-
                                                                          office, that our plans and comments would
         oped and implemented a Chapter Recognition Program
                                                                          be rejected. They were going to proceed with
         designed to promote achievement in the areas most critical to
                                                                          their original plan. Our angry response was
         a chapter’s success, and to recognize particularly outstanding
                                                                          clear and firm. We informed the
         work. Awards are presented in three main categories;
                                                                          Congressman that without a compromise,
         Environmental Outreach, Chapter Communication, and
                                                                          without the agreed upon consultation, with-
         Membership Outreach. A special category includes the
                                                                          out the acceptance of the EIT plan, the coali-
         Surfrider Foundation Greg Noll Award that recognized 5
                                                                          tion would proceed on all fronts. This stead-
         chapters for their outstanding performance.
                                                                          fastness resulted in yet another agreement.
         The winners of the Greg Noll award went to the Rhode Island,     Dr. Psuty and Mike Walther would confer
         San Clemente, Texas, San Diego and Ocean City Maryland           and perhaps could reach a compromise.
         Chapters this year. We felt that these five chapters set great   Another meeting, another trip by a team of
         examples in the following areas; program implementation,         volunteers to the Cove for measurements.
         effective campaign planning and implementation, member-          Attorneys worked to finalize the legal strate-
         ship recruitment and political outreach.                         gy for the appeal process. Media con t act s
                                                                          were alerted . In February, seven months
         Please join us in congratulating all the winners in the first
                                                                          after the initial meeting, Congressman
         annual Chapter Recognition Awards,as well as all the chapters
                                                                          Pallone arranged another teleconference. A
         who proudly represent the Surfrider Foundation across the
                                                                          major breakthrough! Dr. Psuty and the NPS
                                                                          were moving closer to our EIT position.
         Silver Surfer Awards                                             They'd been persuaded, by the facts, their
                                                                          data, and by Mike Walther's expertise and
           Category I Environmental Outreach Achievement                  persistence. We'd been correct all along. The
            San Diego Chapter                                             road was not at risk, sand had already natu-
            Maui Chapter                                                  rally accumulated in the Cove area. The crit-
            Ventura Chapter                                               ical zone was farther north than the NPS
            San Clemente Chapter                                          originally portrayed. A modified fill plan
            Ocean City Maryland Chapter
                                                                          could protect the park 's resources and save
                                                                          the break!
           Category II Chapter Communication
                                                                          Jeff Williams, SEA's attorney, suggested at
               Oregon Chapter
                                                                          this point that we seek a "memo of under-
               New York City & Newport Beach Chapters/Tied
                                                                          standing", something in writing. We agreed
               Laguna Beach Chapter
                                                                          and felt the document must acknowledge
               Rhode Island & South Florida Chapters/Tied
                                                                          the significance of the wave as a unique
               Bellingham Washington State Chapter
                                                                          recreational resource used by thousands;
           Category III Membership Outreach Achievement                   that the design had been the result of coop-
                                                                          erative consultation; and that any future
               San Diego Chapter                                          plans that could impact the break must be
               Rhode Island Chapter                                       cooperatively developed and reviewed. After
               New York City Chapter                                      a bit more conferring and negotiating it was
               New Jersey Chapter                                         done. The 3/21/02 NPS letter (quoted at the
               South Florida Chapter                                      beginning of the article) says it all.
         Surfrider Foundation Greg Noll Award                             It took almost nine months of relentless
                                                                          grassroots effort, countless teleconferences,
               Rhode Island Chapter                                       meetings, negotiations, emails, phone calls,
               San Clemente Chapter
                                                                          press releases,and the energy and dedication
               Texas Chapter
                                                                          of too many individuals to name, to save the
               Ocean City Maryland Chapter
               San Diego Chapter
                                                                          How do you save a break?

making WAVES                                                         8

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