War at the Jersey shore over who rules the beaches

By WAYNE PARRY | June 26, 2011 | 2:15 PM EDT

LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, and a trip to the beach is a must every now and then.

That's why a plan by the state to give shore towns more control over public access to the beaches has created a sandstorm of protest.

Environmental Commissioner Bob Martin says New Jersey can negotiate better overall public access to the shoreline by working with local towns instead of threatening or dictating to them. He notes there are already more than 1,000 access points to the state's 127-mile coast.

But many beachgoers and access advocates fear the new rules will let towns use tricks like not providing parking or restrooms to keep outsiders off their sand.

And surfers and anglers fear being kicked off beaches at night.