Bay State to Cut Back Seaside Campsites
There are 100 sites in the popular camping area at the Horseneck Beach State Reservation, 10 miles southwest of New Bedford, Mass., but under a plan put forward by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the most desirable of those – 32 sites located next to the beach with panoramic water views – are to be eliminated at the end of the 2008 season, which wraps up on Oct. 12.
According to a DCR handout given to visitors this summer, allowing camping in the dunes has come "at a tremendous cost to the natural landscape. The sand dunes have suffered greatly and are slowly being washed away."
The decision has been greeted with anger and dismay by campers, many of them families who have been coming to the campground for generations, according to South Coast Today, New Bedford.
John Souza, 75, of Fall River, Mass., said he has been enjoying the oceanside camping for more than 20 years and has been coming to Horseneck Beach since the 1950s. He disputes the state's claim that campers were damaging the dunes.
"I lived, worked and ate at the Midway, a big restaurant on the beach that we built out here," he said. "This was all cottages here and people from Canada used to have their summer places. You can still see the footings in the campground. … There were never any big sand dunes here. People used to put tents up in the dunes back then, and it never did any harm.
"The hurricanes are the only thing that takes the dunes away. After the '54 hurricane they got this for the state," he said, referring to the state taking ownership of the land for the campsites.
According to DCR spokeswoman Wendy Fox, a survey was conducted last year canvassing opinions among campers.
"We passed out hundreds and hundreds (of surveys)," she said. "We only got 40 back, and the opinions were mixed. We know some campers are unhappy about it, but we need to protect that section of beach for future generations."