SurfFishing Permit fees to increase February 1, 2019
At its January 18 meeting, the Advisory Council for the Division of Parks and Recreation voted to implement an increase in fees for the Surf-Fishing permit and to limit the number of permits to be issued at 17,000 annually. The permit will increase $10 per year for residents while non-resident fee will increase $20 per year. The 17,000 cap on permits issued is slightly less than the 17,361 permits issued in 2018.
Numerous people offered testimony to the Advisor Council at the January meeting. A recurrent theme of the comments made was: increase enforcement of current regulations, particularly regarding being “actively engaged.” Most comments were against the setting of a limit on the number of permits issued. A representative of the DE Beach Access Coalition stated the Coalition were in favor of reducing the number of vehicles on the beach and further restricting access to multi-use beach areas bordered by property owned by members of the Coalition.
Written comment was also accepted by the Council. 104 comment were received 2 days prior to the meeting. DNREC supplied the following information
-51% of those that made written comment to the Council supported increased enforcement.
-28% opposed the fee increase
-33% supported the fee increase
-18% supported the cap of 17,000 permits
-11% opposed the cap of 17,000 permits
-14% supported designated pedestrian only areas of current multi-use beaches
-7% supported designated fishing only beaches
According to Parks & Recreation, the 17,000 permits will be issued on a first-come first served basis. No permits will set aside for holders of the numbered surf tags that were sold at auction. No group or type of permit holder, be it resident or non-resident, will be allocated any number of permits.
DNREC last raised State Park access fees across the board in 2015 to all users, be they resident or non-resident: Daily, Annual Pass, Military, Seniors, Lifetime and Surf Fishing. The increases ranged from 23% (1 year resident surf fishing vehicle permit) to 50% (1 year Senior resident annual pass), with the average increase of 29.64% at that time. The increases for 2019 will be borne by surf-fishing permit holders ONLY, and will take effect February 1, 2019
A quick look at the 2019 fees:
1 year resident: $90
2 year resident: $180
1 year Sr. resident: $80
2 year Sr. resident: $160
1 year non-resident: $180
2 year non-resident: $360
1 year Sr non-resident: $160
2 year Sr non-resident $320
* Fees charged to non-residents cannot exceed twice that charged to residents
Who bought the 17,371 permits in 2018?
3,989 (23%) were purchased by non-residents
12,337 (71%) were purchased by DE residents
- 6,316 (51.2%) by Sussex County residents
- 4,712 (38.2%) by New Castle County residents
- 1,307 (10.6%) by Kent County residents
- 1,035 (6%) were issued free of charge to DE firefighters
NMFS to issue permits for seismic testing
The Delaware Mobile Surf-fishermen, Inc. has recently learned that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be issuing Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) to start seismic testing via an “air gun” in the Mid- and Southern Atlantic coast of the U.S. This testing is a prequel to opening the Atlantic Coast to off-shore exploration, drilling and production of oil and gas. This area includes coastal Delaware.
On December 7, DMS contacted the Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) for more information on this matter. The ACT, headquartered in Berlin, MD, was a tremendous source of information in 2016, informing varied DelMarVa groups on the procedures to be used and the harm it would cause.
Mr. Billy Weiland, ACT Communications Manager, sent us the following:
“The National Marine Fisheries Service issued incidental harassment authorizations (IHAs) to survey companies which gives them permission to harm marine mammals while they search for oil and gas deposits offshore. The next step in the process is for BOEM to issues final permits to the seismic companies. This is expected within the next month. (Emphasis ours).
We’re working closely with Oceana on the issue and anticipate a press event in Delaware to bring communities together once again to oppose this and any action which would result in offshore oil exploration and development. Keep checking our web page at link below for all the updates and additional resources on this. Thank you for reaching out and let me know if you have any further questions.”
Click here for the link referenced by Mr. Weiland. There is also a map defining the area for which permits are to be issued. In short, it runs from the Delaware Bay to Florida.
The following is a quote from the ACT website (www.actforbays.org) and comes from the link posted above:
“On November 30th, the National Marine Fisheries Service, a branch of NOAA, granted Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHA's) for seismic surveying companies to begin exploring for oil and gas deposits off the Atlantic coast. Essentially, these IHA's give seismic surveyors the green light to harm marine mammals during oil and gas explorations. Despite continued opposition to seismic blasting surveys by more than 90 percent of coastal communities within proposed survey regions, it is likely that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will now issue final permits, signaling the initiation of seismic blasting up and down the Atlantic coast.”
DMS members can get future communications from the ACT via their website or via email.
DMS has previously voiced its opposition to the seismic testing process. In January 2016, DMS contacted various agencies and elected officials via US mail. They included Eileen Soebeck, the then- Assistant Administrator of the NMFS; Abigail Ross Harper, the then-Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM); Kathryn Sullivan, Then-Secretary of NOAA. Letters were also sent to then-Governor Jack Markell. Then-Representative and current Governor John Carney, U.S. Senators Christopher Coons and Thomas Carper. In doing so, DMS gave notice that granting permits for seismic testing is without merit. DMS outlined its reasoning, in part:
questioning the current need to pursue oil exploration in the mid-Atlantic where reserves are less than 10% of that in the Gulf of Mexico,
the impact of seismic testing on fish and marine mammals,
the abandonment of habitat of commercially important finfish during and after seismic air-gun testing,
the adverse impact of seismic air-gun testing on larval-stage marine organisms,
lack of scientific evidence that refutes the possibility of hearing loss to marine mammals.
DMS closed its letter thusly:
“In summary, there are many instances when the decision to proceed with potentially harmful technology and industrial pursuits is made from necessity; but in this case, we believe granting seismic air-gun surveying permits along Delaware’s coastline and the mid-Atlantic has no merit at this time and must be tabled until the need is evident. Further, we urge that alternative means to geologically/geophysically map the sea floor/sub-sea floor be devised on the basis of sound scientific evidence that irrefutably proves little to no environmental impact on our marine environment. “
DMS will make every effort to keep you, our members, informed on this matter.
DMS honored as DNREC Volunteer Group of the year
Delaare Mobile Surf-Fishermen, Inc., was recognized by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) as the 2018 DNREC Volunteer Conservation Group of the Year for "advancing the DNREC mission through outstanding service."
Governor John Carney made the presentation on Governor's Day. July 26, 2018, at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington. Joining Governor Carney in the presentation ceremony were State Senator Ernie Lopez, DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin and DNREC Director of Parks and Recreation Ray Bivens.
The program notes included this information: "The Delaware Mobile Surf-Fishermen have supported DNREC on beach driving classes, beach grass planting and special events such as the Chidlren's Fishing Derby on the Cape Henlopen Pier and the Special Olympics DE Family Day At The Beach event. They worked with Delaware state parks on the overcrowding of vehicles on mult-iuse beaches and encouraged legislators to support additional Park Ranger positions for the DE beaches State Parks."
Accepting the award on behalf of you, the Members of the DMS, was President Bruce West and Director Harry Aiken. Other DMS Officers and Directors were in attendance.
2018 meeting with state officials notes
The annual meeting with state legislators and DNREC officials was held February 20, 2018. DMS extends a big thank you to the legislators and DNREC officials that took part.
Much discussion on enforcing current regulations, notable actively engaged and glasscontainers on the beach. It was stressed that if violations are observed, they be reported to Parks& Recreation Enforcement immediately.
Discussion was held on getting seasonal personnel the authority to issue citations for violations that occur in their presence. Any such authorization for seasonal personnel would require training and change is legislation.
DMS supports the hiring of additional sworn enforcement officers. The number of vehicles accessing the beach via surf fishing permits has increased almost 300% since 2006, while the number of enforcement personnel remains the same. DNREC is hopeful they will get funding in 2018-2019 fiscal year budget for 1 additional full-time enforcement position. If approved, that person not be on the job this summer.
Impact of the Big Chill on enforcement efforts. Sworn personnel handling parking duties there reduces their presence on the beach to enforce the existing regulations.
P&R enforcement turned away 10% of vehicles for not having fishing equipment while making vehicle checks in the parking lots.
The top 5 violations that resulted in citations issued were:
•No surf fishing vehicle permit/driving off roadway –51 cited in s017, 46 cited on 2016. Drivers that get stuck where it was determined that the driver was lost and did not intend to drive on the beach were cited for driving off the roadway.
•No GFL- 45 cited in 2017, 29 cited in 2016
•Speeding on roads – 39 cited in 2017: 39 cited in 2016
•Actively engaged/no fishing gear - 29 cited in 2017, 26 cited in 2016
•Underaged consumption of alcoholic beverages – 20 cited in 2017: 18 cited in 2016.
There was a 65 % conviction rate for those persons cited.
Revocation of a surf-fishing vehicle permit for serious and repeat violations was discussed. A permit can only be revoked by the Director of Parks & Recreation.
Air Station improvements underway at Beach Plum and Gordon’s Pond access points are funded in part by donation from The Friends Of Cape Henlopen. The structure to house the air pump is complete at Beach Plum, but not operational. The structure to house the air pump is under construction at Gordon’s Pond.
There will be additional area for vehicles to get off the access path while airing up at Gordons Pond.
Both stations will be capable of handling 2 vehicles at a time.
Request that P&R remove materials that obstruct vision of drivers of vehicles that are leaving the beach at access points. Most notable in Bethany-Fenwick.
Faithful Steward beach access path has been greatly improved.
The end of the CHSP Fishing pier is closed due to ice damage. It was noted that the recent repairs were a "band-aid."
In-house conversation going on, exporing options for replacing the CHSP pier. Costs would be in millions of dollars.
Removing old pier, build a new one
Abandon old pier, build new on parallel to old pier
Build an ocean-front pier.
Striped bass – a new stock assessment is underway. No change anticipated in 2018 striped bass regulations.
Sea bass – now in regional management, DE to NC. Most likely the season will be May 15 to Dec 31 with no closures in that period. Minimum length 12.5”, 15 fish/person.
Summer Flounder – while the population continues to decrease, the number of summer flounder landings decreased more. DE-MD-VA Regional management of the species. 2018 rules are uncertain, but MAY be 16.5” minimum, 4 fish/person
Tautog- again, DE-MD-VA regional management. Closed tog season will be May 16 – June 30. Minimum length raised to 16”, 4 fish/person.
A former CML ferry boat is being prepared for becoming part of the artificial reef sites, may be ready to be sunk in June.
DE River rock removed during dredging operations will be used for artificial reef material.
DNREC will have some say in off-shore windmills for electric generation. They would be many miles off-shore – perhaps near the 12-mile limit.
Gov. Carney is opposed to seismic testing and off-shore drilling for energy exploration. Has sent letter to US Gov’t on this.
By email, Sen Carper office said there are no plans for making CHSP part of NPS.
The Point at CHSP closes March 1
The annual closure of The Point at Cape Henlopen State Park will occur on March 1, 2018. The closure applies to vehicles and pedestrains alike.
The closure is mandated via a 1990 Memorandum Of Agreement between the US Fish and Wildlife Serive and DNREC as part of the piping plover management plan.
The Point normally re-opens on September 1.
DMS voices support for additional Parks Rangers
On February 14, DMS President Bruce West and Secretary George Mood appeared before the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC).
The JFC was in session to consider DNREC’s budgetary request in the next fiscal year.
They voiced the support of the DMS for additional monies to be allocated for the hiring, training and equipping of 3 sworn Division Parks & Recreation Enforcement personnel.
During their appearance, they noted that the number of Parks rangers has remained the same since 2006, while the number of vehicles accessing the beach by way of the surf fishing permit has grown 3-fold to 17,000.
These thoughts were again expressed to the local legislators during the February 20 meeting between DMS and state officials.
2017 DMS Meeting with State Officials notes
The annual meeting with state legislators and DNREC officials was held February 21, 2017. DMS extends a big thank you to the legislators and DNREC officials that took part in an open, honest and informative meeting.
The major topic was the efforts of the Delaware Beach Access Coalition (DBAC) to restrict access to portions of beaches currently accessible by surf fishing tag equipped vehicles.
The DBAC is a group of owners of private communities along both sides of Coastal Highway (DE Rt. 1) that front the State park beaches, notably in the Fenwick Island area and 3Rs Road access area of Delaware Seashore State park. Those communities have enjoyed direct access to the State Park beaches via a Dune Crossover Agreement (DCA) between them and DNREC’s Division of parks and Recreation. They paid a modest fee to Parks and Rec for a permit that allows the owners and their guests to walk over / through the dunes to the beach that front their communities. Communities on the Inland Bays side of DE Rte. 1 have entered in agreements with those communities that front the State Park beaches on the Oceanside of DE Rte.1 to use their Dune Crossovers.
While these communities claim the dune crossovers are open to the public, the communities they serve are either gated communities or posted as private and no trespassing. The DBAC claim that the dune crossovers are open to the public is based strictly on the agreements with the communities on the Inland Bay side of Rte. 1. In effect, they are not open to anyone but an owner or a renter from one of the communities.
DBAC wants DNREC to establish 3 Pedestrian Only areas to be created at the dune crossovers that serve their communities and prohibit surf fishing vehicles parking or driving past. They have presented these demands to the Governor and the Attorney General’s office. These areas are:
From the northern boundary of the Kings Grant community to the south boundary of The Curves community,
From the northern boundary of Seaside Villas to the southern boundary of Fenwick Acres, and
The southernmost 200 yards of Delaware Seashore State Park (3Rs Road Access area).
Currently, 4,080 yards of beach in the first 2 areas are designated 24 hours multi-use /beach vehicle access, with 918 yards closed to beach vehicles at the Fenwick Island Swimming area. If DBAC’s demands be met, the 24 hour multi-use/beach vehicle access are would be reduced to 3, 024 yards, or a loss of 1056 yards, or 6/10 of a mile. This includes 3 sections of beach that would be closed due to inaccessibility.
The DBAC demands would further prohibit surf fishing vehicles from accessing via the beach currently surf fishing vehicle accessible areas that are not covered by the dune crossover agreements. Most notable is that driving on the beach from Middle Beach Crossing to either York Beach Crossing (to the north) or to the South Beach Crossing (adjacent to the Fenwick swimming beach) would be prohibited.
Additionally, changing the multi-use /beach vehicle use designation would prohibit to surf fishing vehicles access to the southernmost area of 3Rs Road Crossing. Curiously, the DBAC further maintains the position that communities that are south of the end of the current surf fishing area at 3Rs Road Crossing - areas that are not in the State Park - would enjoy the benefits of their proposal.
Discussion on this topic, including its immediate impact and future implications on restricting and prohibiting beach access to all residents and visitors to Delaware’s State Park beaches, was lengthy and thorough. DMS and the legislators present stood in support of DNREC opposition to the demands of the DBAC.
N.B.: Some days later, DNREC announced it would not restrict the areas covered by the dune access agreements to surf fishing vehicles.
Other topics were covered:
The proceeds from the auction of numbered surf fishing vehicle tags will remain in the Division of Parks and Recreation.
Once the current supply of blue and white non-numbered plates are exhausted, they will be replaced with a yellow on blue non-numbered plate.
Tags will remain valid for the calendar year. This was in response to recommendation that tags be valid for a year from the month of purchase.
The anticipated number of surf fishing vehicle tags to be issued in 2017 is not expected to change much from the number issued in 2016.
Parks & Rec have turned away approximately 10% of vehicles during beach checks. The most common reason was not having a surf fishing vehicle permit.
Improvements were made to the air station at York Beach Crossing. Three air lines, an upgraded compressor and a widening of the area around that station are complete.
Improvements for the air station at Beach Plum Island (Broadkill) are moving forwards, with anticipated completion by May 2017.
Plans for improvements of the Gordons Pond Crossing air station include widening the area, and increasing with number of air lines with an upgraded compressor require interaction with DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship.
Navy Crossing will be split to improve turns for going north of south when accessing the beach.
Tree trimming being done near Herring Point. Trimming of vegetation to improve sight lines when entering DE Route 1 from the various crossings were discussed.
Discussion on expanding the number of full-time Parks & Rec enforcement personnel centered on monetary issues facing the state of Delaware. 5662 surf fishing vehicle tags were issued in 2006, while 16400 were issued in 2015. While the number of surf fishing tags issued increased by 289% over that time period, the number of enforcement personnel remains the same: 6. The legislators were most informative in this matter.
Division of Fish & Wildlife gave an overview of various species stocks and anticipated 2017 regulations. Species management is moving more to a regional system rather than management by each state. DE is grouped in a region that includes MD and VA. This includes summer flounder, tautog and black sea bass management. It will not apply to striped bass management
2017 summer flounder regulations will most likely be 17” minimum size, 3 fish per day, no closed season
Poor weakfish stock numbers are attributed to predator action, not by overfishing. Spiny Dogfish are seen as the #1 predator of Weakfish.
Striped bass regulations will most likely remain the same as 2016, no closed season
Tautog and black sea bass regulations may change for 2018 and beyond as differences between DE, MD and VA regulations are worked out. Changes may be made to minimum size, creel limit and closed seasons, but it is too early in the process to say what will happen.
Public Hearing for proposed changes to Striped Bass regulations
DNREC's Division of Fish and Wildlife will hold a Public Hearing on proposed changes to Striped Bass regulations.
Hearing will be Monday, October 24, 2016 at 6:00 PM at theDNREC Auditorium, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE.
Proposed change would clarify language that the recreational anlger IS NOT required to tag a Striped Bass. There are several changes that apply to the commercial fishery.
From the DNREC announcement:
The Department removed an unnecessary harvest constraint (slot size limit) on the commercial fishery that resulted in the needless waste of Striped Bass through an Emergency Order. This action proposes to adopt those measures through the normal regulatory process and to modify Striped Bass tagging requirements for consistency with 7 Del. C. §943. Other proposed measures include lost tag reporting; application of weigh station tags within 12 hours of landing; and actions to ensure compliance with commercial reporting and tagging requirements.
August Meet & Greet
Final Meet & Greet for 2016 was just phenomenal. Huge Thank You to Tommy Farmer! Close to 100 DMS members attended plus a few surprise guests. Casting pro Tommy Farmer and Harry Aiken were on hand to offer help in fine-tuning casting techniques. Both Tommy and Harry spent several minutes with those looking for tips to get a few more yards on the cast.
Outdoors Delmarva will be airing a show on Tommy Farmer & Harry Aiken. Look for it around the end of September or the beginning of October. With that being said, thank you to all that attended.
Find more photos of the event on our Faccebook page.
Now it's time to get ready for tournaments!
Beach Grass planting report
March 19th was a cold, overcast day with NE winds of 20 MPH cming off the ocecan. That did not deter an army of volunteers that turned out to assist in DNREC's annual beach grass planting event.
Volunteers planted the beach grass in areas stretching from CHSP to Fenwick Island.
DMS was on hand to provide transport for the volunteers to planting areas in DSSP north on the Indian Rivier Inlet.
The DMS Cook Shack was also on-hand to provide snacks and beverages to the volunteers after they spent hours on the beach Hot chocolate was a popular item to wash down a hotdog.
You can find photos on the DMS Facebook page.
Parks and Recreation proposes CHSP Campsite Improvements
The Division of parks and Recreation have proposed improvements
to the Cape Henlopen State Park (CHSP) campgrounds. Included are a campsite store, additional
cabins, re-alignment and improving the camping sites and removal of some of the
Some 12 pull-through sites will be added.
All RV sites will be upgraded to include water and electric hookups. There will be some changes to the tent-only
Additional showers and restrooms have already been completed, with the new
cabins to be finished this year.
The project is slated to be completed in 2017 and is 50% funded by money from the federal government. The balance is from Park and Recreation.
Click here for more info from Parks & Rec.
NPS sets dates for Public Open House workshops on AINS draft GMP
The National Park Service has set dates for the public open house workshops will be held at the following venues:
Tuesday, March 29, 2016, at the Wor-Wic Community College, 3200 Campus Drive, RM 302-Hazel Center, Salisbury, MD 4:30 - 7:30 PM;
Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at the Ocean Pines Library, 11107 Cathell Road, Berlin, MD, 6:00 - 9:00 PM;
Thursday, March 31, 2016 at the Chincoteague Center, 6155 Community Drive, Chincoteague Island, VA 4:00 - 7:00 PM
Comments will be accepted for a period of 90 days, ending on May 1, 2016.
Assateague Island Management Plan studied
DMS was part of a forum on the Assateague Island National Seashore (AINS) draft General Managment Plan (GMP). Hosted by the Assateague Mobile Sportsmen's Association (AMSA) on Saturday, Feb. 27, the attendees were given an overview of the GMP and input sought from those attending.
The Forum was moderated by AMSA President Bill Justice.
Mr. Bill Reddish, Community Liason for Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland's 1st District (which includese AINS) stressed the need for all persons that utilize AINS to comment on the draft GMP.
DMS President Bruce West acknowledged that Mr. Justice should take the lead in determining which of the 4 Alternatives (see below) should be preferred.
The forum did not form a concensus on which is the preferred Alternative. That will be determined in the coming weeks. Comments on the GMP will be accepted for a period of 90 days, ending on May 1, 2016.
Three (3) Public Comment meetings will be held later in March: one in Eastern Shore of Virginia, one in the Berlin, MD area and the third near Cambrdige, MD. Dates, times and full locations will be posted here as soon as the information is made available.
It is not only ORV use that is governed by the plan; the Alternative that will be chosen will guide the NPS for all activity at AINS.
Given that the last GMP was implemented in 1982, the future of the park for the next 20-30 years is in the balance.
The overall management concepts for the Alternatives as presented in the draft GMP follows. N.B.: This is NPS language. Alternative 1 is a "no action" alternative:
#1 - Continuation of Current Management
The NPS would continue to manage seashore resources and visitor uses as it does today, generally reflecting the broad management goals developed by the seashore's 1982 GMP. Decision-making would be based on existing conditions and available information, but lacks a comprehensive planning framework that addresses the full range of contemporary and potential future issues.
#2 - Concentrated Traditional Beach Recreation
Most visitors would enjoy traditional beach recreation concentrated within a high density developed area in Maryland accessible by private vehicle. Over time, the size of the developed area would likely
shrink, in response to the increasing challenge of protecting recreation facilities in the face of accelerated sea level rise and greater storm intensity. This alternative would likely require significant manipulation of the natural environment to protect facilities and infrastructure in the island developed area. Outside of the developed area, natural processes and the effects of climate change/sea level rise
would be the primary forces influencing the condition and evolution of natural resources.
#3 - Sustainable Recreation and Climate Change Adaptation
Over time, visitor use infrastructure would evolve to more sustainable designs and likely shift to new, more stable locations both on and off the island. Most recreation uses and activities would continue
while new water-based points of access in the seashore's backcountry would enable additional low density visitor use. Natural processes and the effects of climate change/sea level rise would be the
primary forces influencing the condition and evolution of natural resources. Alternative 3 represents a long-term shift of park facilities and assets to adapt to climate change.
#4 - Natural Island Evolution and a Primitive Island Experience
Visitors would continue to use existing facilities and infrastructure until such time as they are lost and/or damaged by natural coastal processes. Lost facilities would either not be replaced or would be
minimally replaced with sustainable substitutes. Visitor use would become almost entirely limited to day-use activities, although some primitive camping would remain. Natural processes and the effects of
climate change/sea level rise would be the primary forces influencing the condition and evolution of natural resources. Alternative 4 represents a quicker adaptation of park facilities and assets to the
effects of climate change as the seashore shifts from a more traditional developed park to a more primitive park.
The entire draft GMP is some 3 inches thick, double sided printing. Buried in that document is the future of ORV use at AINS. It will take some time to flesh it out.
EA for Alternatives for Proposed ORV Rule Changes in Cape Hatteras
The proposed changes include:
Morning opening of beaches.
Extending the length of fall and spring seasonal ORV routes.
Modifying the size and location of vehicle free areas.
Wait... what? EA?? Alternatives?? What does that mean?
It means that the NPS has released an Environmental Assessment on the 4 Alternatives for modifications to the ORV rule at CHNRSA.
Rather than paraphrase, here is an email received from John Couch, President of the Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA). It explains things perfectly.
By the way - Don't pass on this and complain later on that you don't like what the NPS is doing at Cape Hatteras National Recreational Seashore or that OBPA or CHAPA is not doing anything to get more ORV access.
NPS Releases EA for Alternatives for Proposed ORV Rule Changes
Public Comments Due by March 18, 2016
Please Submit Your Comments Now!
The just released EA is the next step in the process that could ultimately lead to modifications to the ORV rule to improve access to the Seashore. CHAPA will compare the EA to the 2015 proposals and submit comments accordingly during the next 30 days.
Your individual participation in the EA comment period is also critical to the success of our efforts to improve access at the Seashore.
CHAPA urges you the review the press release and the EA and provide comments. As you may recall, the promulgation of the ORV rule was a long, highly regulated process. The current rule was implemented in February, 2012. Rule changes can only be implemented after following the same process used to establish the original rule. Therefore, opportunitiies to make rule changes such as the ones under consideration now are few and far between.
The EA is a 169 page document prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Click here to open or download the entire EA in pdf format. While you may not be able to read the entire document, you will want to review the information concerning the four alternatives discussed by the NPS.
The NPS preferred alternative is Alternative 2. These alternatives are described in detail with accompanying maps in other sections of the EA.
Here is the NPS Press release, dated February 17, 2016:
Consideration of Modifications to the Final Rule for Off Road Vehicle Management Environmental Assessment
Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) released today, for public review, an environmental assessment (EA) for the consideration of modification to the final rule for off road vehicle (ORV) management. The Seashore is holding public comment meetings to consider changes to the ORV special regulation (final rule) as it relates to morning opening of beaches, extending the length of fall and spring seasonal ORV routes, and modifying the size and location of vehicle free areas. This EA, prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, will be open for review and comment for 30 days from February 17 - March 18, 2016.
- February 26, 2016, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Hilton Garden Inn, 5353 Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
- February 29, 2016, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Embassy Suites by Hilton Hampton Hotel Convention Center & Spa, 1700 Coliseum Drive, Hampton, VA 23666
- March 1, 2016, 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. - Cape Hatteras Secondary School, 48576 Hwy 12, Buxton, NC 27920
- March 2, 2016, 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. - Ocracoke School, 120 Schoolhouse Rd, Ocracoke Island, NC 27960
- March 3, 2016, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - McKimmon Conference & Training Center, 1101 Gorman Street, NC State University Campus, Raleigh, NC 27695
Public Hearing on Flounder Management
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will hold Delaware's Public Hearing on Draft Addendum XXVII to the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Interstate Fisheries Management Plan Tonight (1/12/16) in Lewes.
Draft Addendum XXVII was initiated to consider extending the use of regional management approaches for the 2016 recreational summer flounder fishery, including an option that would allow for a Delaware Bay specific region for the New Jersey portion of Delaware Bay.
The Draft Addendum also includes options for extending use of ad‐hoc regional management approaches for black sea bass recreational fisheries in 2016 and 2017.
While this Addendum should keep Delaware's 2015 Summer Flounder and Black Sea Bass regulations in place for 2016, Delaware anglers may be interested to learn more about the management option which would allow New Jersey to have one size and possession limit in the New Jersey portion of Delaware Bay and a different size and possession limit for the rest of New Jersey.
We urge you to attend and offer your own opinion on the Management Plan.
DNREC Lewes Building (at the Lewes Boat Ramp)
901 Pilottown Road
Contacts: Delaware – John Clark at 302.739.9914
New inter-dunal road and ramp at Cape Hatteras
An "Inside Road" has been completed between Ramp 44 in Buxton and Ramp 49 in Frisco.
The Inside Road runs four miles behind the dunes and will allow off-road vehicles to travel between Ramps 44 in Buxton to Ramp 49 (Billy Mitchell Airport) at the NPS Campground in Frisco without having to return to Highway 12.
The Inside Road bypasses the Vehicle Free Area (VFA) that currently exists between The Point and Ramp 49
The Park Service also added another ramp, Ramp 48, just one mile to the east of Ramp 49, to allow more access to the Frisco beach, especially when areas are closed for turtle nest hatching.
Construction of a new Ramp 63 on the north end of Ocracoke Island has begun. Completion expected in Spring 2016.
Click here for the full Island Free Press news story
DMS Takes 2nd at 2015 AMSA Tournament
DMS took 2nd place at AMSA's 11th Annual Ronald Bounds Memorial Surf Fishing Tournament held at Assateague Island National Seashore on October 17th!
Congrats and WELL DONE to Captain Keith Schmeirer, Bruce West, Tim Wallace, Gary Born, Sam Catalano and John Meade
UPDATE: NPS accepting written comments on changes to CHNS ORV Rules
The National Parks Service (NPS) is accepting written comments on changes to the ORV rules at Cape Hatteras National Seahore.
The NPS options as well as the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance (CHAPA) comments can be found here.
Highlights of the CHAPA positions which are favorable to ORV access, include, but are not limited to:
Opeingn priority beaches as soon after first light as possible.
Seasonal beaches in front of villages should be open earler in Fall and later in Spring.
Seasonal beaches not in front of villages should be re-opned to ORV access no later than September 15.
NPS should re-classify currently designated vehicle-free areas (VFA) - that currently encompass 25.25 MILES of beaches - to seasonal or year-round ORV routes.
NPS should re-classify some seasonal ORV routes to year-round ORV routes.
NPS should issue 10-day permits in addition to the annual permits.
NPS should issue annual permits valid for one (1) year from DATE OF ISSUE.
Every person that uses the Cape Hatteras Natonal Seashore should take the time to read the information in the link to the OBPA website.
Send your written commentx to the NPS by August 21, 2015 or attend one of the 5 public scoping hearings the NPS has scheduled.
See the meeting schedule at the end of the post below this one.
NPS schedules scoping hearings for consideration of changes to Cape Hatteras National Seashore ORV rules
A letter from John Couch, President of the Outer Banks Preservation Association:
Section 3057, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area was passed in December, 2014 as part of The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. On July 20, NPS announced the scheduling of public scoping meetings between August 6 and August 12 to consider changes to the 2012 Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area ORV Rule as required by the new law. Specifically, NPS will consider changes to three specific areas of the Rule.
Morning Opening of ORV access routes during summer months
The rule currently designates ORV routes to be closed from 9:00 pm until 7:00 am. The new law requires that the utilitization of a rolling schedule be considered to allow access earlier than 7:00 am. The expectation is that NPS would schedule turtle patrols to be completed prior to 7:00 am on selected beaches to faciiltate this change.
CHAPA believes greater early morning access will significantly improve the visitor experience at a time of year when sunrise occurs well before 6:00 am. A rolling schedule, or changing the opening time for all ORV access, will facilitate important visitor activities currently not available.
Dates for Seasonal Closures
The rule currently designates that many ORV routes will be closed to ORV access from April 1 until October 31. These are called seasonal routes. The new law requires that consideration be given to opening the routes to ORV access earlier in the fall and closing the routes later in the spring in order to lengthen the time ORV access is available each year.
CHAPA believes that the shoulder seasons, (early/mid fall and early/mid spring) offer visitor activities that are highly dependent on ORV access and that earlier opening in the fall and later closing in the spring will provide significant benefits.
Vehicle Free Areas
The rule currently designates approximately 26 miles of seashore as Vehicle Free Areas. The law requires that consideration be given to changes in the designation of Vehicle Free Areas.
CHAPA believes a number of Vehicle Free Areas result in lost access to activities valued by visitors, significantly and negatively affecting the visitor experience. We believe these areas are candidates to be reclassified as either seasonal routes or year round ORV routes.
CHAPA urges you to attend one of the public scoping meetings and to be prepared to voice your opinion on these important topics.
We expect, although we are not certain, that NPS will announce a public comment period for written comments. We will keep you informed as we learn more about the process NPS will follow to complete their assessment of changes to the ORV rule. We also urge you to participate in all phases of the process as they occur. This is your opportunity to make a difference in what happens at Cape Hatteras in the future.
CHAPA will also prepare and present recommendations to the NPS and we will share them with you at a future date. The NPS press release announcing the dates and locations for the scoping meetings follows.
Public Scoping Meetings Scheduled to Consider Changes to Cape Hatteras National Seashore's ORV Special Regulation
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is holding public scoping meetings to consider changes to the Seashore's Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) special regulation as it relates to morning opening of beaches, extending the length of fall and spring seasonal ORV routes, and modifying the size and location of vehicle free areas. Public scoping will help inform the development of alternatives that will be analyzed in an Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA will be prepared in response to the Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2015 (Public Law 113-291) pertaining to the Seashore's Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Management Plan.
The five public meetings are scheduled as follows:
August 5, 2015, 5:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. - Ocracoke School, 1 Schoolhouse Road, Ocracoke Island, NC 27960
August 6, 2015, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - McKimmon Conference & Training Center, 1101 Gorman Street, NC State University Campus, Raleigh, NC 27695
August 10, 2015, 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. -Cape Hatteras Secondary School, 48576 Hwy 12, Buxton, NC 27920
August 11, 2015, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Hilton Garden Inn, 5353 Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
August 12, 2015, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. - Embassy Suites Hampton Inn, 1700 Coliseum Drive, Hampton, VA 23666
Additional information on the Public Scoping and EA process will be provided in advance of the public meetings. More information can be found on the Seashore's webpage at: http://www.nps.gov/caha/parkmgmt/2015ndaact.htm
Every individual that enjoys fishing at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore shold comment on the proposed changes to the current restrictive ORV regulations that are in effect in CHNS. We note Mr. Couch's statement that there is no process currently in effect to make written comments on the changes. As soon as that process is announced, we will post it here and on the DMS Facebook page.
Restrictions on beaches: a step forward
It seems odd to say it.
Ray Bivins, Director of the DNREC's Division of Parks and Recration, announced that vehicles accessing the beach via the surf-fishing vehicle permit will now be restricted to park single-file along the oceanfront.
This restriction is intended to facilitate enforcement of the surf-fishing vehicle regulations for being actively engaged as well as adressing safety concerns for beachgoer's and park staff.
The "restrictions also stipulate that vehicle parking will be accommodated 'on a first-come, first-served basis...' "
In a press release dated May 12, Director Bivins noted that the number of surf-fishing vehicle permits to be issued in 2015 is expected to exceed 15,000. 11,380 permits were issued in 2011.
The DMS position is clear. From the press release: “Our board membership fully supports this policy change,” said Bruce West, president of the Delaware Mobile Surf Fishermen, “and we applaud DNREC, Director Bivens and Parks Enforcement staff for listening to the concerns of the sport-fishing community. We also know that this problem did not happen overnight and will not be fixed overnight, either.”
DMS was one of a number of user groups that Parks and Recreation had approached in February, 2015, seeking input on a number of options the Division was considering to manage the number of vehicles on the beach during periods of heavy use, most notably at CHSP on weekends and holidays during the time between the start to the Memorial Day weekend to the Labor Day holiday.
Options being considered at the time included, but was not limited to, a quota on the number of vehicles permitted to use the beach during periods of heavy use and a reservation system.
DMS members were advised of the position of the Board of Directors regarding the options. We asked for input on the DMS position as well as input on the options presented by Parks & Recreation.
Over 50 DMS members voiced their opinion. They overwhelmingly supported the enforcement of the "actively engaged" provision of the vehcile permit regulations.
DMS members also overwhelming supported the hring of additional officers armed with arrest powers to enforce all Parks regulations.
Subsequently, DMS informed Director Bivins of their position:
- Increase the number of full time/sworn Enforcement Officers armed with arrest powers to enforce current and future park regulations.
- Enforce the current regulation for being actively engaged when accessing the beach with the Surf Fishing Vehicle permit.
- Utilize Seasonal Officers for parking duties when required during high-use times.
- Limit the number of vehicles accessing the beach with the Surf Fishing Vehicle permit at CHSP on Saturday, Sunday and holidays during the summer season. While doing so may limit the number of vehicles at CHSP, those Surf Fishing Vehicle permit holders unable to use CHSP can access other State park beaches.
- The vehicles accessing the beach parks park in single file along the oceanfront to facilitate the enforcement of park regulations.
- That access to the beach by vehicles using the surf fishing Vehicle permit be on a first-come first served basis.
DMS also launched a petition urging Parks and Recreation to enforce the "actively engaged" provision and other regulations already in place, hire more personnel and to meet a problem that has been growing over the years. 1,831 persons electronically "signed" the petition before it was sent to Director Bivins.
We thank the DMS members that voiced their opinion as well as the fishing community at large for support of our petition.
Your voice was heard.
DMS winners at Ocaracoke Tournament
Congratulations to the DMS Team of captian Keith Schmierer, Barry Brittingham, John Meade, Steve Merrick, Andy Twardus and Tim Wallace on thier fisrt place finish at the 2015 Ocracoke Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament held April 30 & May 1 on Ocracoke Island, NC. The team took control of the tournament by landing 20 fish and scoring 77 points in the second session on Thursday on a wet afternoon. Friday's strong 30 MPH winds strirred up the sea with grass becoming an issue. They still were able to score some points, cementing their hold on 1st place.
DMS beat a strong field, including teams from NCBBA, Team Advanced Fishing, and 68 other teams from NJ to SC.
Meet and Greet, May 2
More than 20 persons attnded the first Meet and Greet of 2015 held Saturday, May at Herring Poiont in Cape Henlopen State Park. Chairman Eric Burnley reports that 3 people expressed interst in joining DMS. The next Meet & Greet is schedule for June in the faithful Steward crossing area. Detail will be announced shortly.
2015 Beach Grass Planting
March 21 was clear but cold as over 250 volunteers engaged in DNREC's Annual Beach Grass Planting. This year, the volunteers planted grasses on the reverse side of the primary dune north of the Indian River Inlet, helping stabilze this important protective barrier. DMS supplied hot beverages and snacks to the volunteers.
Find photos of the event on our Facebook page.
2015 Annual Dinner
Over 80 persons enjoyed an evening of camaraderie at the Frankford Fire Company hall on March 14. The delicious meal of roast beef, veggies and dumplings was prepared by the Frankford Fire Company's Ladies Auxiliary. A large number of donations made the raffle a huge sucess, with 2 rod-and-reel combos, 2 Bud Graves oil-on-canvas paintings and an Ellen Rice giclee print offered as the major prizes. The latest in club apparel was also available. Please check the THANK YOU module on the front page for the list of both business and member donors. Keep them in mind when considering purchases of the goods and services they offer.
2015 striped bass regulations
Publlic comment period for the 2015 striped bass options for Delaware closed on March 10. The Hearing Officer presented the information to the Division of iIsh & WIldlife. F&W hasmade a recommendation and forwarded it to the DNREC Secretary. The Secretary will make the final decision.
From Mr. John Clark of DNREC's Division of Fish & Wildlife, we reveived this note:
We are hoping to have a decision from the Secretary by April 15 so the regulations will go into effect in may (Piblished on May 1, in effect 10 days later on May 11). We will try to get a press release out as soon as the Secretary has made his decision.
A hearfelt "get well soon" to long-time DMS member John Cristea as he faces medical problems.
State Park user fees to increase February 15
DNREC's Division of Parks and Recreation will implement increased user fees to access Delaware's state parks beginning February 15th.
Increases in the Annual Pass fee and Surf-fishing Vehicle fee will take effect then. Daily user fee increases will take effect March 1.
In December 2014, DNREC held a series of open house presentations - one in each County - where it revealed the proposed increases and asked for public comment.
Across the board, the increases range from 23% to 50%, with an average increase of 29.64%. The increase for surf-fishing vehicle tags range from 23% to 27.27%, depending on residency and length of tag.
Get your surf-fishing tag before February 15 to avoid the higher fee. The new fees for surf tags are:
Delaware registered vehicles for 1 year – $80
Delaware registered vehicles for 2 years – $160
Senior Delaware registered vehicles for 1 year – $70
Senior Delaware registered vehicles for 2 years – $140
Out-of-state registered vehicles for 1 year - $160
Out-of-state registered vehicles for 2 years - $320
Senior Out-of-state registered vehicles for 1 year - $140
Senior Out-of-state registered vehicles for 2 years - $280
Our condolences to Gary Born
DMS extends it deepest sympathies to DMS member Gary Born after the tragic loss of his daughter, Nicole Born. Nicole, 40 was an avid angler and had won awards as early as age 13. Nicole died suddenly on January 4th due to complications arising from an influenza infection. She is the mother of 2 young children. She was laid to rest on Saturday, January 10.
A news outlet offered this quote from Gary on his daughter: "She was just a dynamic.. a dymaic person. Full of energy, full of life. The smile that radiated from her face just light up the room."
Memorial contributions in Nicole's name can be made to: The Animal Welfare Association, 509 Centennial Blvd, Voorhees, NJ.
Find more on Nicole by clicking here.
How the NPS protects threatened species. No surprise there.
What can you do to support H.R. 4094
U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones (NC) introduced H.R. 4094, the Preserving Access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Act, which would return management of the CHNSRA to the Interim Protected Species Management Strategy and Environmental Assessment, issued by the National Park Service on June 13, 2007.
Representative Jones' bill needs congressional support and co-sponsors. You can help solicit support by writing your U.S. Representive, urging him/her to so-sponsor and support this bill.
You do not have to be a resident of North Carolina to do this. As a House bill, it is open to debate by every member of the U.S. Congress. That means your representative, no matter where you live.
Let the members of the US House know you support US Rep Walter B. Jones' H.R. 4904. When writing any member of Congress, being concise and on-point is the best way to go. You may also want to contact the members of the Natural Resources committee, as well as members of the Subcommitte on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.
Find your representative in the US House of Representatives here. Who is on the House Natural Resources Committee? Click here.
Will Chincoteague Island NWR Close the Beach to ORV?
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it must be a duck. Given what has happened at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area, the awarding of a federal grant to Chincoteague Island NWR brings that old proverb to mind. Read on, and see if you can find the duck.
A recent DelMarVa Now article reporting that the Chincoteague Island NWR will receive a $1.5 million federal grant to purchase land to be used as a parking lot is raising supicions that it ultimately could keep vehicles from accessing the beach there. Additionally, the awarding of the grant has taken Chincoteague's Mayor and an Accomack County Supervisor by surprise.
Mayor Jack Tarr: "We thought we were in the CCP process and getting to make comment ... This is kind of telling us that we don't." Regarding CINWR Director Lou Hinds, Supervisor Wanda Thorton was quoted that Hinds "should just tell the community the facts ... In my opinion he has misled the community."
Virginia's U.S. Representative Scott Rigell, in a letter to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, called the action "a classic example of ... government imposing its will without regard for the will or economic well being of the people." In the same letter, Rep. Rigell asks questions that have a ringing echo of questions that were raised (and ignored) in Cape Hatteras.
If you think you have read this sort of thing before, you are right! The same type of remarks were made by lawmakers, community leaders and stakeholders - that includes YOU, the ORV user - during the recent long, bitter, contentious "fact-finding" at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area. The outcome of that process, which was rife with false science, ignoring the comments of the communities/stakeholders, disregard for the historical use of the beaches and the economic impact to the area, has lead to severe restrictions on not only ORV access, but to all access in parts of the CHNSRA.
Being cut out of a process, not being able to make comment, being misled?
It walks like a duck...
Lawmakers raising concerns about the economic impact of a questionable plan being imposed without community input?
It quacks like a duck...
Could this grant to purchase land for a parking lot end in loss of ORV beach access at Chincoteague Island NWR?
It looks like a duck....
If it happened at Cape Hatteras, it can happen at Chincoteague.
Do you see the duck?
The noose of restrictions on beach access, be it for ORVs or pedestrians, is coming nearer to Delaware. It happened at Cape Cod. Next it was Cape Hatteras. Now it is Chincoteague Island. Access to Assateague Island is being "studied", which is government-speakfor "restrict ORV beach access". Where next?
Don't forget your GFL or your FIN#!
You can purchased your General Fishing Llicense at many bait and tackle shops or on-line from DNREC. Click here to go to DNREC's automated licensing system.
Click here to get your free FIN number.
The DMS Newsletter is available electronically
Jeff Stickle, our Newsletter Editor, has reported the cost of producing and mailing the Club Newsletter have risen dramatically in the past year. Each newsletter that is mailed now costs the Club near $1.00 each. With recent rate hikes announced by the United States Postal Service, we anticipate the cost of each newsletter to exceed $1.00 by the end of 2012. You can help the Club save money by having it sent to you inbox. Read the newsletter at you leisure, at home or on vacation, and store it electronically on you computer's storage area without fear of it being inadvertantly thrown away.
Our thanks to the 70-some members who have already responded to help the Club save money. The cost for distributing the January newletter via the USPS was reduced by $70.00
ASMFC Approves Reductions in Menhaden Landings
Recently, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted to implement large scale reductions in the landings for menhaden, or bunker, as we anglers call it. Nothing posted yet on the AFMFC website but there is a good article in the Washington Post on this topic.
In a nutshell, the current regulations allow for the harvest of 92% of all adult bunker in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean! The new regulation permits only 70% of the bunker to be harvested. The mehaden reduction giant Omega Protein Corporation of Reedville, VA, harvested 160,000 metric tons of bunker- about 450 million menhaden, or 80% of all menhaden. The remaining 20% was taken for use as bait.
Flathead catfish reported in Delaware
At the June 16, 2010 meeting of the Advisory Council of Tidal Finfisheries, Matt Fisher of DNREC'S Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) announced that DFW received a report of the capture of 2 flathead catfish in the Brandywine River. On two separate occasions in May, a DNREC crew searched the area for this species where the reported captures took place. The crew used various methods, but efforts to capture any other speciman was unsuccessful. For this reason, DFW cannot verify that this species inhabits the Brandywine River. The public is urged to report sightings or landings of this or any other invasive species. Reports can be made to DNREC