When the sun beats down this summer, beach lovers may have a hard time finding that perfect place on the sand because New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection is abdicating its responsibility to ensure beach access.
The DEP is letting Shore towns, some of which have been hostile to tourists, write their own beach-access plans. The agency is providing so few guidelines that advocates rightly worry that citizens’ lawsuits pressing for access could be lost causes.
Even if the DEP were to reject a town’s beach-access plan, there are no real consequences. The state says it would be more difficult for towns to get shorefront replenishment funds, but not impossible. The DEP hasn’t addressed the wily town that might take the money and then change its access plan to be more prohibitive.