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Off-road vehicles barred from Gilgo State Park due to erosion

NYS Parks Deputy Regional Director George Gorman, speaks

NYS Parks Deputy Regional Director George Gorman, speaks about the erosion at the Gilgo State Park, Thursday, April 20, 2017. The concrete structure used to be covered in sand. Credit: Steve Pfost

For the second year in a row, Gilgo State Park will be closed to vehicles due to severe beach erosion caused by winter storms.

A bluff carved by the storms has grown taller and high tide now comes closer to the dunes, said George Gorman, state parks deputy regional director for Long Island.

The ocean has also reclaimed sand in front of a former Coast Guard station’s foundation. The station was built in the mid-19th century and was abandoned sometime after the mid-1920s.

“Safety is our biggest concern. Someone who drives onto the beach — they could fall down there,” he said at the park Thursday, pointing to the exposed concrete. “And there is no room for vehicles to get onto the beach.”

This season, only surfers and fishermen who park elsewhere and walk in will enjoy the 1,200-acre Jones Beach Island park.

The indefinite vehicle ban affects tens of thousands of 4-wheel-drive enthusiasts who have visited Gilgo each year, Gorman said.

Surfer Rob Virga, 58, of Babylon, who was checking conditions Thursday, recalled how sand covered the old station foundation when he first began coming to Gilgo about four decades ago.

“I haven’t seen it this bad in a while,” he said of the erosion.

The driving ban, however, won’t deter him.

“Just being out on the water is so peaceful,” he said.

Two nor’easters last winter deposited sand at Gilgo but a third storm took it all back, Gorman said.

The wind and waves also washed away several thousand cubic yards of sand poured by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after superstorm Sandy struck in 2012.

The state parks department does not have funding to replace the Gilgo sand “at this time,” Gorman said.


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