Brick council members this week unanimously voted to adopt a new ordinance governing the use of beach buggies – four-wheel drive access to the township’s beaches for the purposes of surf fishing during the fall and winter.
A controversy erupted earlier this summer after it was revealed that the federal government requested the township block off areas and restrict access dates. News of the request rallied the local recreational fishing community, whose members urged the council to hold off on the measure and reconsider some portions of the ordinance – most prominently, removing about six weeks of access.
The federal Department of Fish and Wildlife raised concerns about local reports of the seabeach amaranth, a grass species which has sprung up on some beaches, as being threatened by vehicles. There was no evidence of the species being present on the beach berm, however. The request also referenced piping plovers, a threatened shore bird species, however there was no evidence of plovers nesting on Brick’s beaches.
Ultimately, the governing body agreed to eliminate the date changes and add an educational aspect to its permitting forms. Reportedly, Fish and Wildlife had contracted out some of its rulemaking activities to an environmental advocacy group that sought the changes. Federal officials said Brick’s revised ordinance met with their approval.
To comply with the federal government’s request, Brick will post extra signage along the beachfront and include new language in the beach buggy permit application that requires anglers to agree to avoid any marked-off zones. Brick police will enforce the regulations.
Beach buggies are allowed on Brick’s public beaches, with a permit obtained from the police department, between Oct. 1 and April 30.