"Victory Sandy Hook"
Victory Sandy "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- Hook 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 f 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. c 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- f 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. Negotiations 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 country. 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 Cove. San Diego Chapter How do you save a break? making WAVES 8