Let everyone drive on the beach, really?

July 20, 2014

First let me say, I look forward to Eric Burnley’s articles every Friday in your outdoors section. His experience and knowledge are invaluable. That said, he made a few statements in this past Friday’s edition that I thought strange. As it relates to a bill introduced by state Sen. Dave McBride, where there would be an allowance for “surf fishing” (paid tag holders) to drive on the beach and not be required to fish. This would be permitted between Memorial Day and Labor Day only.

Mr. Burnly gives me the impression that if we take the position, that only fisherman should be allowed to drive on the beach, we will lose. My question is this. What’s the difference between Memorial Day thru Labor Day, and the rest of the year? Is this the first step in full “drive on” privileges for all year round?

The main point is being lost here. Surf fishing - what part of “fishing” do we not understand! That’s what makes it unique. You’re not just driving on the beach, instead of walking from the parking lot to set up for a day of fun in the sun. Are they going to expand the surf fishing sections of the beach, taking it away from the walk on sections? I think not!

There are currently people who will drive on the beach with the family and fish, (well, make believe they are fishing, while enjoy playing touch football on the sand to the land side of their vehicle). That doesn’t make that situation right! That’s what enforcement is for. Our state park rangers have been doing a great job, taking tags from people who violate that rule; it also dissuades anyone around the violator from doing the same thing in the future.

True surf fishing enthusiasts enjoy the solitude of fishing the surf. As much as surfers deserve their space on the beach, aw heck, even the piping plover has a few sections in the sand, why then shouldn’t people who love to fish the surf have their sections to fish in peace.

Mr. Burnly also spoke about the state government having to make changes as far as training (driving on the beach), adding lifeguards (safety) and park rangers for safety and enforcement. The biggest change is moving the surf fishing permit funds out of the general fund and putting it into the parks division. I’ll tell you right now, none of that was even considered. There is no way that the state government is going to take money out of the general fund because they would have to come up with a way to replace it.

To Mr. Burnley’s credit, he’s thought of things that I’m sure Sen. McBride in his landlocked Senatorial District 13 didn’t. The main aim for a politician is the capability of bringing in money, reoccurring revenue! The poor parks department will be told “make it work” without a penny more!

My last concern is, if you now allow anyone (hopefully with an appropriate vehicle) to just drive on the beach, there will be an environmental impact. The surf fishing enthusiasts that I’ve observed are considerate of the environment, picking up trash (and not just their own) and taking it away, helping others with issues on the beach, and assisting during planned cleanup days on the beaches. You will not get that same courtesy with people who aren’t invested in our, Delaware’s environment.

Mike Irise

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