Friday, April 3, 2009

Where Boaters Boat: Preserving Barnegat Bay's F-Cove.

In many places, access to the water continues to be a problem. Whether it's a place to launch or dock a boat, sit by the water and enjoy a cold beverage, or beach your boat on a warm sandbar for a swim...various forces come together at times to limit or restrict our use of the water. Sometimes these forces are for the protection of the area, and are sensible. Sometimes they're economic, and can't be avoided. Other examples just make no sense at all.

The F-Cove is the area on the north end of the Barnegat Bay in Brick, NJ where many boaters go to enjoy and relax with other families and boaters. It is now in danger of being closed off to Boats. Several governmental agencies are advancing a plan to partially fill in F-Cove, using the deep lagoons as a dredge spoil site, and also restricting use in an attempt to restore wildlife habitat. The plan would likely close F-Cove to all present forms of access; according to the plan, powerboats would no longer be allowed entrance. "Bollards" - pilings put in various places much as is done on land to enhance security of some building - would restrict access to craft above a certain size.What New Jersey boaters are requesting is that local officials work with the US Fish & Wildlife Service to arrive at a mutually agreeable way to keep F-Cove in existence for future generations of boaters to safely enjoy. Save Barnegat Bay, the local environmental group that is leading the effort to keep the cove accessible to boaters, acknowledges that the current activities do not meet the official recreational criteria:
"But we strongly believe that the fact that thousands of boaters enjoy this natural setting on weekends over the course of the summer creates an obligation on the part of representative government to work out an accommodation."


Interested boaters can help by writing letters or attending a hearing--just email for more info. To get a clearer idea of what the government is trying to do, a huge 753-page Army Corps of Engineers report is available here. [PDF] Scroll to page 164.

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