Surfcasters Association banquet serves up good news on TTOR fees, breach

The Trustees of Reservations have no plan to increase off-road vehicle permit fees in the coming fishing season, and the breach has narrowed.

Photo by Nelson Sigelman

The Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association held its annual banquet and awards ceremony Saturday in Edgartown. The winter gathering affords an opportunity for members and friends to catch up on news, retell fishing stories, and generate money for the organization, which is dedicated to recreational and community fishing interests.

Guest speaker Chris Kennedy, The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) Martha’s Vineyard superintendent, updated the large group of people gathered in the Baylies Room of the Old Whaling Church on the condition of beaches open to off-road vehicles on Chappaquiddick and Norton Point Beach, most of which are owned and/or managed by The Trustees and provide some of the Island’s most spectacular and beautiful public-shore fishing opportunities.

Mr. Kennedy said the breach in Norton Point Beach might be more accurately referred to as “the closing.”

The current cycle of erosion began in April 2007, when a one-two punch of storm-driven ocean waves and powerful spring tides knocked open a cut in Norton Point Beach. The result was two long narrow spits of sand stretching east and west toward one another. Over the course of the past seven years, the cut has continued to migrate eastward to Wasque Point, in a repeat of a natural cycle that appears to be reaching its conclusion.

Mr. Kennedy said the opening now ranges between 50 and 75 yards, and the spit has begun to turn toward Wasque Point. “It’s getting very, very close,” he said.

Based on past experience, Mr. Kennedy said he does not expect the beach to close suddenly. Instead, it will open and shut several times before it closes permanently. Mr. Kennedy said that once the land link with Chappy is reestablished and is safe, it will be reopened to off-road traffic.

He provided no specific estimate, only reason for optimism for those who would like an alternative to the three-car ferry that now is the only means to get on or off Chappy. “We are on the short end of things at this point,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Mr. Kennedy also told fishermen there will be no increase in the cost of off road vehicle permits. TTOR will however increase parking and walk-on fees at Wasque from $3 to $5.

One problem in recent years has been an increase in dog complaints and party complaints, particularly on the county-owned Norton Point Beach, managed under contract by TTOR. Mr. Kennedy said he has increased ranger staffing to clamp down on abuse and late-night parties.

TTOR will also be meeting with county officials, he said, to review its policies with regard to alcohol and dogs. “We’re trying to get control over parties on the beach,” Mr. Kennedy said. “We’re not trying to block access to fishermen.”

Mr. Kennedy also introduced Chris Bruno, the new Chappy superintendent. Mr. Bruno, 34, a native of New Orleans, formerly was a land manager for the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. “It’s good to be here,” Mr. Bruno said. “I look forward to meeting everybody out on the beach.”

He is married to Caitlin Borck, TTOR southeast-region ecology assistant and part of the land trust’s shorebird management program.

In the association’s business report, president Don Scarpone and treasurer Phil Horton reported that the group had contributed more than $3,000 to various Island causes and scholarships. In one of the highlights of the annual event, Kathi Pogoda skillfully raffled off a long list of items generously donated by local Island businesses and merchants to replenish the club’s coffers. For more information on the Surfcasters, go to