Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday, April 02, 2018: Highly busy. Nice to see we missed the white stuff forecasted for today ... Cross over the bridge

Amazing how many soccer players have the awesome Zen power of chi ... able to hurl competitors through the air with a mere life-force touch ... 

Neymars dive (Brazil vs. Uruguay)

All in a day's trucking work ... 

Suicide attempt fail

Good thing she held her nose ... 

Girl jumps off roof and misses swimming pool

Monday, April 02, 2018: Highly busy.

Nice to see we missed the white stuff forecasted for today. Even the predicted cold night temps for this week have been moved upward, above freezing, overall.

A bit of weather radicalness went unseen last night when warmer southwest winds took LBI air temps to 64 degrees well after dark. Then, in just a few hours, it plummeted to 34 degrees -- a 30-degree drop in nothing flat. Wow. It’s been that kinda year to date.

Holgate is closed to all, that includes folks kiteboarding south of the closure point -- to then walk back along the beach. Don't go there. 

The Little Egg Inlet Channel is officially completed, per the state NJDOT, the agency behind the work. I’ll repeat that the feds had no part in the project, though Army Corps did have to OK the plans.

I’m told the DOT is now working on getting the new channel marked, via the US Coast Guard -- which is in the neighborhood, placing federal aids to navigation. The hookup between state and USCG has yet to be made but the state is fully aware of the need to speed things up, as boating season moves in. I’m staying in touch with state reps.

I’m told there were no markers last week along the recently dredged Double Creek. That’s on my “tomorrow” list of check-ons. Check back.

Below is from my weekly writings. It's about Causeway bridge work -- and walking about. 

(Ignore any typos, this is a rough draft before final write-up.)


project location map graphic

Large look, see: http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/roads/rte72manahawki...

CAUSEWAY WALK-ABOUT: Work on the Rte. 72 Causeway double-build remains in full swing. Technically, the project is into the fifth awarded contract (out of six), highlighted by structural rehabilitation work on the Big Bridge, i.e. the Dorland J. Henderson Memorial Bridge.   

I call it a “double-build” because there will be sistered, side-by-side Causeway bridges in the end, which should come in 2021, give or take.

The new -- and pretty much completed – southerly Causeway bridge is for eastbound-traffic. I’m temporarily dubbing it the Eastbound Causeway Bridge. A much better name is surely in order. We’ll likely get first-graders to name it in some sort of Causeway Naming Contest -- with the winning kid getting a bridge named after him or her.

The sister span to the to-be-named Eastbound Causeway Bridge is ye olde Dorland Causeway. It can be likened to the Eastbound Causeway’s older sister. It’s now in the midst of a total facelift – with a nip and tuck thrown in for looks.

When done, the newly-refaced Dorland J. Henderson Memorial “Big Bridge” will attend to westbound traffic. What’s more, it will also host a comely six-foot-wide public pedestrian walkway for walkers heading both east and west. The Eastbound Causeway will have no such walkway. The new walkway can easily be seen on the trestle bridges, i.e.. the little bridges.

Checking the walkway out, I’m liking how it’s well protected by an elaborate, muscularly metaled, protective guardrail system. We know that many a lead-foot driver travels the Causeway while humming the 1974 Kraftwerk song lyrics, “Bahn, bahn  bhan … on the Autobahn.” I prefer “Bound, Bound, Bound … on the Island Bound” – driven at a safe speed … numbnuts!

Don’t tell anyone but I’m hearing that the new walkway might be fully and walkably functional by summer. This would allow mainland folks, especially Staffordites in Beach Haven West, to once again amble over to LBI -- after years of ambulatory separation from the beach due to the Causeway project. The walkway might even see some vice versa foot traffic, as Island people have been known to walk/run westward from LBI. Go figure.

Should the Causeway walkway soon open, problems could arise from bicycle riders, of which the area has a multitudinous force.

While bike riders will eventually have their very own 13-foot-wide shoulders on both the Dorland and Eastbound Causeway bridges, those lanes won’t be happening until project’s end. In the immediate future, pedalers might have to share the walkway with pedestrians. That’s a bad usership mix. Imagine bikers getting a head of steam cruising the downhill side Dorland Bridge walkway … with walkers dead ahead. If allowed to share the walkway, I’m guessing bikers will be required to walk their bikes, at least over the bridges.

Please note this info is semi-speculation, just between you, me -- and those giant lampposts shedding light on the Eastbound Causeway. Same lights to illuminate the Dorland Bridge when done. By the by, I’m pressing the DOT for walkway info after being begged for updates by wannabe bridge crossers.

NAME THAT WATERWAY: Hard to believe but I first came into this Causeway bridge segment simply to pass on the official names of the waterways being bridged during project. Those names are important since the NJDOT is using the waterway names to designate the related bridges.  I’ll explain.

trestle bridge photo

Above: Three trestle bridges will be rehabilitated as part of the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project.

Heading off the Island, the first trestle bridge, colloquially called the Hochstrasser Bridge, is technically the East Thorofare Bridge, since it crosses the East Thorofare waterway. See how it works? So, the next bridge spans the West Thorofare waterway. That would make it … any guesses? Correctamundo! The West Thorofare Bridge. Nice try but no cigar for the fellow who guessed it would be named “the Not-East Thorofare Bridge.” I like his thinking though. By the by, the West Thoroughfare Bridge is often referred to as the Dutchmans Bridge.

Below: East Thorofare Bridge, looking east.  

Finally, the trestle bridge toward the mainland is the Hilliard Thorofare (waterway) Bridge, once known as the Margo’s Bridge.

By the by, the waterway beneath the Causeway’s big bridges is the Intracoastal Waterway.

I’m getting more info on final phase/contract of project, mainly Contract Number 1B, which will structure the traffic flow in Ship Bottom, leading to the Boulevard and Central Avenue once again hosting two-way traffic. Oh, come on! You had to have heard about that.

Per the NJDOT: 

A separate construction contract will address safety and operational issues at the Route 72/Marsha Drive intersection in Stafford Township. This contract will also include operational and drainage improvements in Ship Bottom Borough, on Long Beach Island. Two-way traffic will be restored along Central Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard. Traffic signals along 8th and 9th Streets (Route 72) will be improved.





Trashed Osprey. Keepin’ It Local.

Trashed Osprey. Not a photoshop, not an April Fool, and most importantly, not some one-of-a-kind pic from like five years ago just to make a point. This was today in Forked River, captured by the great Bev Morris who shared it. Sadly, you can get shots like this every day in Barnegat Bay. For example, I just spent an hour digitally removing a three foot piece of plastic currently tied to our very own Wendy the Osprey’s leg. I took the pic today. It’s for a magazine and I don’t want to show the world how gross our Island really is!

I lack education, I like to pretend to hold opinions I don’t actually hold, I’m deeply paranoid, and I bore easily. Therefore, I try to steer clear of politics. So while I don’t know anything about the politics of banning single use plastic bags in Long Beach Township, I do have something to say about the plastic itself.

I keep reading and hearing about the ban, and all of the things I hear and read seem to have been written on another planet. Or at least somewhere far away. On the political level people generally seem to treat this correctly as a local issue. But in terms of the actual problem of single-use plastic bags in the marine environment, people tend to address it as some huge, distant, impossible global issue. Which it is. But more importantly to us is that the problem of plastic in the marine environment is an undeniably local issue with local causes, local effects, and local consequences.

It only just recently occurred to me that people are missing the true local carnage because they aren’t spending enough time out in the Bay and its marsh areas. I can’t tell you about the politics but I can tell you, firsthand, that the Bay is getting more choked with plastic every year. It used to be an annoyance. It is now reaching the level of “disgusting.” You don’t need to go global on this one. Osprey are choking on our very own, local, single use plastic bags, right in our own backyard.

This winter someone wrote a letter to the Sandpaper, furious about the ban. The author said two things which showed that me people are literally not seeing the real problem. First, he said something along-the-lines-of “how come I don’t see plastic bags lying around my street if this is such a problem.” Apparently he has never seen the Academy Award (TM) winning American Beauty and its iconic scene, “The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Ever Filmed.” Also, he apparently does not get outdoors enough, which I totally understand. So I’ll answer this directly: you don’t see single use plastic bags lying around the street because they blow away into the Bay in a matter of minutes. If you want to see them, you simply need to go to any marsh area in Barnegat Bay. There you will find them. Our Osprey nests are full of them. It’s really lame, and really disgusting, and it is getting worse every year. And now it is so bad, you can see our Osprey wearing them like coats. Anyone who isn’t seeing them should stop looking at the Island’s pavement and turn their eyes towards its wildlife.

I’m not trying to be a wiseguy here. I am honestly coming to the realization that people don’t see the problem because they don’t get out to what are supposed to be our “unspoiled spaces” which are the heart of the coast and the massive economy which depends on it.

Next the letter’s author rallied in defense of the hypothetical poor woman working in the single-use-plastic-bag-making factory and her job. He asks, What about this poor woman losing her bag-making job? Maybe I’m selfish, but that is certainly not my first thought. I’m worried about our jobs. Long Beach Island is doomed without a healthy, gorgeous Barnegat Bay. Sadly, the Bay is getting grosser each year and that’s going to be bad for business. Gone are the days when cheap, drunk, party goers were willing to overlook trash and sewage to get their Shore on.  The future, and even present, success of this Island is 100% dependent on a healthy, local ecology. A plastic bag wedged in the reeds, or an Osprey flying overhead with a balloon tied to its foot totally blows the vibe and kills the dream everyone is chasing when they spend $5000 for a week in an assumed paradise with their friends and family.

Again, I don’t fault the author of this letter. It is clear he has simply never seen the garbage dump which lies about 1/4 mile from his door. It is only just occurring to me that a lot of people haven’t, or if they have, maybe they don’t recognize the path we’re on, locally, and where it is heading, locally.

Osprey are known as an “Indicator Species” because problems in the local marine environment tend to hit them first. They saved the Bay, and us, from DDT. Before we were able to completely destroy the Bay and poison ourselves, the trouble showed up in each Osprey nest. They saved us. We dodged a bullet because of their early warning. We are super lucky to have them.

Today their eggs aren’t failing because of a poison we are dumping into the Bay. Instead, they are being choked, strangled, hung, and suffocated by plastics. That’s probably their biggest problem with regards to us. They are indicating to us where we are headed. They are screaming to us: “You are choking the Bay and strangling yourselves!” If you believe the Osprey, plastic is the DDT of our generation.

Had I never had the good fortune of meeting Ben Wurst The Osprey Hero, and getting to join him on various adventures around the Bay, I’d be saying all the same stuff I keep hearing about the ban… “They are trying to control us,” and “they are killing jobs,” and “it doesn’t make a difference,” and “the great garbage patch in the Pacific comes from China,” and so on. I’d be blissfully oblivious. I never saw the true Bay until Ben showed me.

An Osprey nest check is like a utility worker checking your meter. It is disruptive, and you have to get in and out real fast. While doing this, despite the tight time frame, Ben demands you grab any trash you can and bring it back to the boat. Sadly, it is getting to the point where even just grabbing the plastic trash right in front of you winds up being more than the boat can manage on any given day in our Bay.

It’s sad, it’s gross, and it is getting worse. Self interest alone should be enough to motivate us. No need to go global, no need to get abstract. Forget the great Pacific garbage patch for now. We have our own garbage patch right here and it is a huge threat to the local economy and way of life.

And importantly, from my experience, single-use bags are an actual, local problem; not just a symbolic issue of the greater problem of plastics. Single use bags degrade quickly, so we know the ones we pull out Osprey nests and remove from baby Osprey are coming from our own neighborhood. They are too easily carried by the wind. Styrofoam is bad too, mostly because it breaks down into small, light, durable pieces. Marine rope and fishing line are real issues too, as are balloons and their strings.

To me, ballons and single use plastic bags are no brainers to try to get rid of. They are pretty stupid, and easily replaced by alternatives which don’t muck up the Island. Styrofoam, synthetic boat rope, plastic water bottles, fishing line… these things I’m more sympathetic to. At least they have some true utility.

But the only value of a single-use-plastic bag is that it spares us from not developing the habit of bringing our own bags when we shop. It takes about four trips to get into the habit. Once you get going, you find yourself saying “How did I live like that? Why did I live like that? My bags are a million times more comfortable, durable, and convenient. What the hell is wrong with people? That is so stupid to get new bags every time! And those bags are sucky bags!”

I’m willing to go down in a plastic ship if that’s what everyone wants to do. I’m not fussy. But before we choose our path, I wanted to bring to the conversation that yes, plastic is a very local issue, and that yes, single use plastic bags are part of our local problem, and that yes, getting rid of them would be extremely helpful to the local economy. I feel these facts are being missed by too many people, simply because they don’t get to spend time in the marsh and up close with our Osprey.

And lastly, I’ll make a political suggestion even though it is not my forte: let’s not ban the bags; we should tax them. $1 a bag. Use should plummet. And those willing to pay can fund the good people like Ben Wurst who have to spend the whole season picking our nasty, slimy, single use plastic bags out of the reeds and off of dead Osprey so people will continue to believe that our Island is a paradise worth escaping to.


EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m as lazy and selfish as the next guy or gal, and probably more so. I don’t carry my bags nearly as often as I should. But when I do, I feel like I am doing the obvious, logical, smart, and kind thing. When I don’t, I feel kind of like a loser. I personally pray for a ban because it would force my lazy hand! It would be similar to how we weaned ourselves as a culture off of drunk driving.

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