Hands Off Camp Hero

Montaukers and those who love the easternmost point in New York State are highly skeptical about an idea to allow camping and related concessions in Camp Hero. They are right to be ringing the alarm. Camping should not be permitted there.

In August, the State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation asked interested parties to submit proposals for a camping concession that might include everything from tent sites to R.V. hookups. In addition, there is a possibility that food and liquor sales could some day be allowed there. For a very long time, Long Island state parks management has kept hands off Montauk. This is good and befits a wild and inspiring place. That would come to a screeching halt if a portion of Camp Hero were turned into a campground.

The response, at least locally, has been vigorously negative. Concerned Citizens of Montauk, the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, and the Eastern Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation have cautioned against it. 

Concerns include sewage, campers falling down the ocean bluffs, competition with local motels and rental properties, fire and emergency medical services, and a lack of state parks police to handle an additional load. There have been few problems at the state-run Hither Hills campground in Montauk, but that might not always be the case.

These are valid concerns, but there is something more important. If there is one place that should be a refuge from the rest of the Hamptons, or what might be called modern life, it is Montauk Point. Day-trippers and residents alike go to the Point and the park there to get away from it all, to soak up nature’s majesty in an undeveloped setting. Protecting the sense of peace that nature provides should be the greatest priority.

The Parks Department has said Camp Hero is “underutilized.” To us, that is exactly as it should be.