State of the Beach/State Reports/NY/Surfing Areas

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New York Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access64
Water Quality54
Beach Erosion6-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill5-
Shoreline Structures5 4
Beach Ecology2-
Surfing Areas27
Website5-


Inventory and Perception of Status

There are 35 well-known surf spots on Long Island. Shifting sandbars and jetty breaks are common on the western end of the island, and rock reefs and point breaks characterize the eastern end. New York hosted an ASP tour event in 2011 at Long Beach that was blessed with excellent surf.

The condition of these surfing areas and beaches is generally good, but issues of water quality, beach access, erosion, and shoreline structures are increasingly threatening some spots. Surfrider's Long Island Chapters report that something has been happening in the water because of the increased development and runoff or undetected chemical pollutants from places like Millstone. For example, shell fishing in and around the Long Island Sound appears to be declining because of the water quality problems. In addition, a proposed project to further armor Montauk Point to protect the lighthouse, along with the recent arrest of surfers for "illegally" surfing there, has made this an area of concern. See here for more info.

State and local restrictions on surfing are nominally based on providing appropriate uses to avoid conflicts between competing uses and maintaining public safety. Restrictions are often based on local conditions rather than statewide application.[1]

Recognition by State

Although New York Coastal Management Program does not officially recognize ocean waves as a valuable recreation resource, or surfing as a unique outdoor recreational, economic, or cultural activity, surfing is one of the recreational activities that is considered to be a water-dependent use. As such, it is included in all state policies that address recreation and recreational access along the coast. The New York Coastal Management Program strongly protects the rights of access for public water-dependent uses (see Policies 19-22), including surfing.[2]

The New York SCORP recreation survey indicated less than 1% of those surveyed had surfed in the prior 12 months. While there were not enough surfer respondents to the survey to make generalizations, a much earlier study of surfers indicated that they are a very homogeneous group. The study showed that the surfing population was primarily male, adolescent, single, middle or upper-middle class, and Caucasian.

Neither the NYS Department of State nor the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation maintain information on surfing locations in New York. However, according to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), a limited amount of research was done in the late 1990s indicated that about 2% of New Yorkers said that they had surfed in the previous 12 months. Further, this research did not include whether this surfing occurred within New York State or elsewhere. A review of available online information about surfing in New York State at that time indicated that the south shore of Long Island was pretty much the only area where surfing occurred within New York State. The primary state park visited by surfers was Gilgo Beach State Park. While OPRHP does not maintain information on surfing locations, more recently surfers have been requesting (and utilizing) access to state parks such as Montauk Point State Park. However, OHRP has maintained that surfing is not an allowed activity at Montauk Point State Park primarily due to conflicts with other existing activities such as “surfcasting” which is a type of fishing.

In 2004, OPRHP began a trial period that granted surfers access to Camp Hero — a park on the south side of the Montauk Lighthouse — for the first time since the land was acquired by the state in 1984. In May 2008 Surfrider Foundation's Eastern Long Island Chapter realized an important victory in their campaign to legalize surfing in Montauk Point State Park, and all ocean front parks in the State. East Hampton Town Justice Catherine A. Cahill dismissed the case against eight surfers who were ticketed in 2007 while surfing within Montauk Point State Park. The judge ruled that the law cited on the tickets does not apply to surfing, thereby clarifying that the prohibition of swimming at the site does not extend to surfing. More Info. Even more recently (January 2009) it was announced that surfing is allowed at Montauk Point State Park from December 15 to April 1. More Info.

Surfrider Foundation Chapters

 LocationWebsite
Central Long Island Chapter40° 42' 59.3568", -73° 19' 18.4296"http://centralli.surfrider.org/
Eastern Long Island Chapter40° 58' 25.3632", -72° 8' 37.2768"http://easternli.surfrider.org/
New York City Chapter40° 42' 51.6708", -74° 0' 21.5028"http://nyc.surfrider.org/


Central Long Island Chapter Central Long Island Chapter Website

The Surfrider Foundation's Central Long Island chapter was started in April 2004, by a group of concerned local beach-goers and water sport enthusiasts. Their goal was to educate the community on issues affecting the marine environment and rally support to help protect and preserve the beauty and integrity of Long Island's beaches and its natural resources.

In a short period of time, the chapter has made great strides in reaching its goals. And although we live on an island, we understand that no man is an island. We could not be where we are today without the dedication and support of countless individuals, families, and businesses.

The accomplishments achieved by the Central LI chapter since 2004, include:

  • Numerous public and educational outreaches
  • Participation in community educational events
  • Beach clean-ups galore
  • Hosting public speakers
  • Beach adoption
  • Campaigns for increased beach access
  • Paddle outs commemorating September 11th
  • Fundraisers
  • Family fun days
  • TV spots and interviews regarding our coastal impact

As beach-lovers, we recognize the tremendous inherent value of the world's oceans. With a strong commitment to our goals, we are confident that through community-focused efforts we will continue to foster stewardship of the environment, so that all may enjoy the wonders of the waves for many generations to come.

Beach/Surf Access
An Overview of Central Long Island Surf Access:
Late 50s / Early 60s - Beach access was not a problem anywhere between Rockaway and Montauk. (At best count there were 2 surfers)

Mid 60s - The only access to Robert Moses State beaches was by way of ferry - out of Captree. No surfboards were allowed. The Robert Moses Bridge was not yet built. Rumor had it that surfing was permitted at Jones Beach until someone broke a leg surfing there and subsequently sued the state. That event ended surfing on state land until the 70s. Surfers accessing Democrat Point by boat ran the risk of having their board impounded by the State Police, if it washed up. And .. boards were impounded. (There were no leashes in those days.)

Late 60s - Beach Buggy/Fishing Permits used to access Demo were taken away from anyone caught on the beach with a surfboard.

Early 70s - Proactive efforts by a group of local surfers belonging to the ESA (Eastern Surfing Association) got the State to open up Jones Beach West End 2 for surfing during the months of December to August. They conceded access to the fishermen during September, October and November .. knowing well these were prime surfing months. (Still in effect today)

Late 70s - The same group that was responsible for opening West End 2, worked another 8 years seeking access to all of Robert Moses State beaches. They were successful in opening Field 3 as a Pilot Program. (It is worth mentioning this program was jeopardized - and almost lost - due to the constant disrespect of the red flags by uneducated surfers)

Mid 80s - Town of Babylon Supervisor, Anthony Noto, moved to ban surfing at town beaches - citing beach erosion. Chain link fences were erected and signs posted 'No Surfing Permitted'. The conflict between surfers and local town government generated national interest. The grass-roots movement to re-open the beaches, combined with overwhelming support from concerned citizens, helped overturn Noto's decision and effectively ended his political career.

Early 90s - After a 15-year Pilot Program at Field 3, Bernadette Castro, New York State Parks Commissioner, conditionally opened all of Robert Moses State beaches to surfing West of the red flags.

Additional Facts - Since the 60s, it has been illegal to use a fishing 4x4 permit to access surf breaks at Hemlocks and at Democrat Point - punishable by loss of permit. Surfers of the 90s, through to present day, have enjoyed the most relaxed policing of surfing on Long Island since the mid 60s.

Today - Possession of a surfboard past the posted 'End of Surf Area' sign at the west end of Robert Moses Field 2 will result in a ticket for disobeying a posted sign. Emergency stopping only is permitted on a State Highway - stopping to discharge a passenger (with or without a surfboard) is not considered an emergency and will result in a ticket. The perceived increase in policing and ticketing at Democrat Point and Hemlocks will have to be a 'wait and see' to determine if this is an isolated issue or a 'new movement'.



You can contact the Central Long Island Chapter via email at centrallongisland@surfrider.org

Eastern Long Island Chapter Eastern Long Island Chapter Website

The Eastern Long Island chapter is dedicated to maintaining and acquiring beach and ocean access rights, to preserve our coastline and improve the overall quality of Long Island's coastal environment.

Top Issues for the chapter include:


New York City Chapter New York City Chapter Website

The NYC Chapter has 900 members, was formed in the 1990s and has been fighting the good fight for beach access, clean water, and an improved coastal environment ever since — our work is supported through tax-deductible contributions made by individuals, companies, and organizations.

Check out the NYC Chapter's victories!

We’re moms, we’re surfers, we’re kids and teens… we’re you. We’re engaged to protect what we love; oceans, waves and beaches.



You can contact the New York City Chapter via email at chair@nyc.surfrider.org

Surfrider Staff Contact

John Weber
Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager
732-567-1787
Email: jweber@surfrider.org

Also check out Surfrider Mid-Atlantic Region's website for Surfrider news from New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C.

Information Sources

The summary of surfing areas comes from Surfer Magazine's The Surf Report issues for the state. Surfrider Foundation chapters were surveyed to establish surfing conditions in the state.

Other sources of information on surfing in New York include:


Footnotes

  1. Fred Anders, NYSDOS, State of the Beach survey, January 9, 2003.
  2. Fred Anders, NYSDOS, personal correspondence, February 6, 2002 and State of the Beach survey, January 9, 2003.



State of the Beach Report: New York
New York Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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