Rep. Zeldin on Smith Point Outer Beach Access Details Long Term Solution that Needs to be Initiated
Patchogue, NY – Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY 1), member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, released the following statement today regarding outer beach access at Smith Point County Park that has been closed since June 3, 2016:
“One of my best memories growing up in Shirley was accessing by vehicle the outer beach at Smith Point County Park with friends and family. Unfortunately, it has become an annual challenge where wildlife protected under federal law are shutting down access to one of Long Island's greatest treasures. Biologists state that there has been one piping plover and a tiny colony of tern chicks on the beach, preventing a reopening. This beach needs to reopen ASAP. Current capacity at the beach would be 100 cars. Without this single piping plover and one colony of tern chicks, capacity at the beach would be 450 cars and the beach would be opened again. Protecting wildlife is important but it must be done in a flexible and reasonable way. There is a long term solution available to ensure this never happens again in the future.
The Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the two laws that govern the protection of these birds, allow for flexibility in the management of habitats. The same flexibility afforded to beach goers in Cape Cod or North Carolina must also be available to the people of Long Island. That is why I am working directly with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and Suffolk County to formulate a new conservation plan for these birds that is both flexible and sensible. The long term solution is for the county to request federal permits necessary to move the birds away from the current choke point at the Pattersquash Overwash to points further down the beach near the eastern tip that have been specially created for bird habitat. This request must be initiated as soon as possible so that the permits are received in time for the next summer season. The specially created habitat, constructed at taxpayer expense, should be put to use to transfer these birds away from the area that has necessitated the closure of this beach. There is absolutely no reason for this situation, which has been an annual challenge for beach goers, to ever happen again."