For those of you unfamiliar with the Montauk Area, Camp Hero was a
former military base set upon a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Several years ago a trade was undertaken whereby New York State Parks
acquired the property in exchange for land in the Fire Island Lighthouse
tract. Since that time access has been limited to surf fishermen,
with permits, gaining entry through a locked gate on the southeast
edge of the property.
More than a year ago, State Parks, under the direction of Commissioner
Castro, formed the Camp Hero Advisory Committee in an effort to
get public input on further use of this unique area. Before general
access can be granted, a major study of the cleanup of hazardous
waste had to be performed by the Corps of Engineers. When the area
is deemed safe it will be opened to the pubic, hopefully within
The question remains as to what uses will be allowed in the park
since preservation of its unique character is a major concern. One
of the many proposals offered is the construction of 10 to 15 all
season cabins, to be built on the site where derelict structures
are slated for demolition. The cabins would contain kitchen and
bathroom facilities and be available for use the entire year. For
out of town folks this could present a golden opportunity to spend
quality time in an extremely desirable location at a reasonable
There is strong opposition from the local population, expressing
concerns over traffic congestion, sewage, water supply and vacant
motel rooms. Several major sportfishing organizations have already
expressed their support for this proposal. It is suggested that
those in favor of building these cabins should make their wishes
known to: The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic
Preservation, Empire State Plaza, Albany NY. 12238
On a related issue, one which deals with funding for projects such
as making Camp Hero available to the public, where does the money
come from? Here is one possibility.
The Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund was established in
1964 by Congress. The LWCF supports federal land acquisitions and
on a matching basis, also supports state and local park development.
Over the thirty years it was in existence the "state side"
program generated $200 million dollars for New York, producing over
$500 million in park projects. Unfortunately, between Federal fiscal
year l996 through 1999 no funding was made available for the "state
The good news is that for the first time in four fiscal years,
"state side" funding is back in the federal budget. While
the amount is small for FFY 2000 ($2 Million for New York), it is
promising for the future if we keep the pressure on. It would be
best if legislation was created whereby there would be full and
permanent funding for LWCF. The legislation that many are focused
on is HR 701, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act. That legislation
would deliver to New York, over $100 million dollars annually for
"state side" LWCF, non-game species management, coastal
management and historic preservation. Camp Hero would be eligible
for many of the programs offered in HR 701.
Your help is needed if this bill is ever to become law. Tell your
friends and certainly share yours thoughts with Congress.