For the first time in three years, surfers and fisherman will be able to drive off-road vehicles at Gilgo State Park, starting April 1, officials said Friday, as the severely eroded beach now has been replenished.
Gilgo was closed to anyone not on foot because the Atlantic had washed away most of the sand from previous dredging programs, narrowing the beach to a thin strip, imperiling Ocean Parkway and exposing the foundations of a Coast Guard station abandoned since the 1920s.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers paid a dredger approximately $26 million to pour about 2.1 million yards of sand onto Gilgo and nearby local beaches.
“The fishing community and the surfers are thrilled because it is such a popular location. It gives them the ability to drive right onto the beach to enjoy their sport,” said George Gorman, Long Island deputy regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The sand was dredged this winter from Fire Island Inlet, which lies to the east and which routinely traps sand that otherwise would flow along the shore, Mother Nature’s way of replacing the sand storms rob.
The project also protects Ocean Parkway; last spring officials found that the sea had engulfed so much of the beach that just 36 feet separated it from the road.
That heightened the risk that a storm would cleave Jones Beach Island in two, officials have said. The parkway is the island's main east-west artery.
Off-road drivers must buy permits from the state parks department. The fee is $80 for in-state vehicles and $125 for out-of-state vehicles. The permits will be sold until March 31, officials said, and then sales resume the Tuesday after Labor Day until Dec. 31.
For more information, call 518-474-0456 or visit parks.ny.gov.