BERLIN – Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) hosted its 28th Annual New Years Day beach walk on Assateague Island with over 225 people joining the New Years event.
ACT renamed the event the “Ilia Fehrer-Judy Johnson Memorial Beach Walk” in honor of Fehrer and Johnson, both of whom passed away within the past year. They were founders of the Committee To Preserve Assateague Island, which evolved into the Assateague Coastal Trust.
Assateague Island National Seashore Ranger Chris Seymour welcomed the crowd announcing, "This theme of this year’s beach walk is ‘Choices’." Seymour continued, "One important choice made by these two pioneering environmentalists Ilia Fehrer and Judy Johnson is that they might have chosen to sit back and watch Assateague developed into ‘another Ocean City’ rather than speaking out to preserve the fragile barrier island. We are glad you chose to join us today to appreciate Assateague Island."
As the crowd of 225 walkers moved to the beach, Seymour and ACT President Jim Rapp pointed out the dune line, which has been reduced in height this fall, opening the sand flats behind it to potential storm damage. During the walk, a young participant brought the shell of a horseshoe crab to Seymour, who ably described the crab’s ancient lineage and explained the valuable contribution that the blood of horseshoe crabs makes to the pharmaceutical industry.
The walk headed north on the beach to the site of the former Thomas B. McCabe House. Once the largest private residence on the island, it was destroyed during a winter storm in 1991 when the dunes were breached by a strong storm surge. The walkers then returned to the State Park concession stand where ACT volunteers served hot cocoa and cookies.