BEACH ACCESS - The following regulations have been enacted by the Dukes County Commissioners to ensure that these beaches are accessible to and enjoyed by the public while also protecting the natural resources found on the beach.
- l Waterfront portions of the beach are for public access and passive recreation.
- l Vehicles must remain in designated parking areas.
- l Pedestrians must remain on the designated walkways between parking areas and waterfront areas.
- l Four-wheel drive motor vehicles may be allowed to drive the marked trails on Norton Point Beach providing they have purchased and properly displayed a current special permit from the County. Drivers must also have a copy of the current Special Vehicular Access Regulations which comes with the permit.
- l Vehicles designed or modified for use over unimproved terrain such as “recreational vehicles, off-road vehicles (ORV), or “all terrain vehicles” (ATV) are prohibited on all County beaches (except for official use by governmental and enforcing agencies).
- l People licensed to harvest shellfish in either Oak Bluffs or Edgartown may drive on the Sengekontacket Pond shoreline of Joseph Sylvia State Beach to access their shellfishing areas. Vehicles must stay on the dry sand between the dune and the normal high tide waterline, so access is not possible during some high tides.
- l There is a $50 fine for violation of Section 1 (Mass. General Law Section 161 Acts 1971.)
PROTECTION OF DUNES AND VEGETATION - Dunes protect nearby land from storm surges and storm damage. Beach vegetation stabilizes dunes and encourages natural dune growth by trapping wind-blown sand.
- l Do not climb the dunes.
- l Do not walk on the vegetation – many plants are killed by foot traffic.
- l Do not cut, dig or remove wildflowers – they are there for all to enjoy.
- l Harvest of berries (blueberries, beach plum, rose hips) is permitted.
- l There is a $50 fine for violation of Section 2 (Mass. General Law Section 161 Acts 1971.
WILDLIFE PROTECTION – Parts of these beaches have traditionally been used by native rare wildlife, including least terns and piping plovers. Ropes and signs mark these areas from April 1 – August 31, or until the nesting season ends. Ropes and signs will be removed as soon as the nesting season ends.
- l Keep out of wildlife protection areas.
- l Kite flying is prohibited within 100 yards of posted bird nesting habitat – kites resemble predators and disturb nesting birds.
- l There is a $50 fine for violation of Section 3 (Mass. General Law Section 161 Acts 1971.
DOGS AND PETS – Many dogs and pets like the water as much as we do. However, some restrictions are necessary to enable all of us to use and enjoy the beach. Dog and Pet Restrictions:
- l 1 January – 31 March – No Restrictions;
- l 1 April – 14 May – Dogs and pets are prohibited within 100 yards of posted nesting habitat by federal and state regulation. The prohibition is enforced throughout the nesting season, which generally lasts from the beginning of April through the end of August. The Recreation Department will remove the signs as soon as possible after nesting is concluded.
- l 15 May – 30 August - Dogs and pets are prohibited within 100 yards of posted nesting habitat by federal and state regulation AND Dogs and pets are prohibited on all beaches between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.;
- l 1 September – 15 September - Dogs and pets are prohibited on all beaches between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.;
- l 16 September – 31 December – No Restrictions; and
- l Dog and pet excrement must be picked up and properly disposed of.
- l There is a $50 fine for violation of Section 4 (Mass. General Law Section 161 Acts 1971).
PUBLIC SAFETY – To ensure public safety and a clean beach restrictions are necessary:
- l No carrying or consuming alcoholic beverages.
- l No overnight camping or sleeping.
- l No open fires (charcoal grills may be used providing the coals are thoroughly doused, cold and buried before leaving the beach).
- l No removing, defacing or otherwise damaging signs, posts, roping or other structures.
- l No littering: Each visitor shall remove all rubbish, trash or refuse which he or she is responsible for ($200 fine Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 270, Section 16). Please consider removing other litter as well.
- l Behavior that endangers the public, causes a nuisance, or harasses wildlife is prohibited.
- l There is a $50 fine for violation of Section 5 (Mass. General Law Section 161 Acts 1971
SPECIAL EVENTS - (clambakes, parties, family reunions, etc.) may be permitted through an advance permit from the County Manager. There is a $50 fine for violation of Section 6 (Mass. General Law Section 161 Acts 1971. per order Dukes County Commissioners Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 161 Acts 1971 Voted March 13, 2002
VEHICULAR ACCESS REGULATIONS - Norton Point Only
- Vehicles must be in four-wheel drive and must display a current Norton Point Beach sticker on front and rear bumpers. Stickers are not transferable.
- Vehicles must be in the designated trail.
- Vehicles are prohibited from driving along the bay side tidal flats at all times of the year.
- Tires shall be maintained at a maximum of 15 pounds per square inch. If your tires start to spin in soft sand, let more air out of the tires.
- The presence of nesting shorebirds may close part or all of the beach to vehicular access.
- Driving or parking is prohibited in the following areas: On vegetation; Within 15 feet of snow fencing; Within 15 feet of the toe of a dune.
- Speed limit of 5 miles per hour near nesting shorebirds (as posted).
- Speed limit of 15 miles per hour elsewhere on beach.
- In places the designated trails are wide enough for only one vehicle; use designated pull off areas to allow oncoming traffic to pass.
- Parking on designated trails or in pull off areas is prohibited.
- All vehicles must carry the following:
- Beach regulations;
- Spare tire;
- A rope, strap, chain or cable of sufficient strength and length to tow your vehicle.
- Jack and a board to go under the jack (a jack in loose sand is useless);
- Heavy duty shovel;
- Tire pressure gauge registering 10 psi or less.
- Drivers must fill in the ruts and or holes they dig to remove their vehicle from loose sand.
- The beach manager and/or County Commissioners may enact and post additional regulations to protect public health and safety or to protect the integrity of the beach.