Suffolk County officials have closed 37 oceanfront campsites at Shinnecock East County Park due to severe beach erosion.
County parks officials announced the closures April 26 on the department’s Facebook page. Parks spokeswoman Emily Lauri said winter storms have severely eroded the beach for the past four years, but the natural movement of sand along the coast usually replenishes the area in spring.
That has failed to happen so far this year, she said.
“The erosion was extremely bad, and the beach never built itself back up and there’s no sand to move around,” Lauri said Saturday in an interview. “There’s a huge dropoff where those sites are.”
Shinnecock East County Park is on Dune Road, just east of the Shinnecock Inlet in Southampton Town. It has more than 100 campsites on the bay and ocean, Lauri said.
Cooky Rondinella, president of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association, a group that advocates for public access to beaches, said erosion is eating into the already limited amount of camping space on Long Island.
“The guys are upset about it,” he said Saturday. “We have such limited space out here as it is, and with the economy tanking, we have more people staying home and taking staycations and camping. It’s an issue.”
Frank Schortemeyer, executive vice president of the group, said Saturday that the Shinnecock East beach has improved slightly over the past several weeks. But he said the prospect of campsites reopening during the camping season was “a long shot.”
Campers who cancel their reservations for the affected sites, numbers 66 through 103, can contact the parks department for a refund, Lauri said.
“Staff does monitor the beach on a daily basis,” she said. “As soon as we can open that up, we will.”