Annual New Year’s Day Walk Named In Founders’ Honor

BERLIN – Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) will host its 29th Annual New Year’s Day beach walk, on Jan. 1, 2008 at the Assateague Island State Park.

Organizers have this year named the event posthumously in honor of two founders of the Trust, Ilia Fehrer and Judith Johnson. This popular event begins at 1 p.m. at the State Park concession stand and draws crowds of 100-300 beach walkers for an afternoon stroll on Assateague Island, lead by a park ranger who eagerly shares his knowledge of the island.

On New Years Day 2007, winds along the beach were clocked at 30 mph as a crowd of 150 walkers followed Chris Seymour, a National Park Service Ranger, north along the beach from the Assateague State Park concession stand.

The weather did not faze local beach lovers who came to the island for the 28th Annual New Years Day Beach Walk, sponsored by Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) with the assistance of the state park and the national park staff. Seymour’s theme last January was “Wake up and Listen to the Ocean.” Along the way, while he pointed out the various species of gulls that were cowering against the wind, and explained why the dunes were flattened the farther the group walked toward the Ocean City Inlet, Seymour reminded people of their connection to the world’s oceans.

“The gasoline in your tanks, the fuel oil in your houses, all of it came to you across the ocean in tankers. The parkas, gloves and hats you’re wearing probably arrived on these shores in a ship,” Seymour said. “If you had tuna, or shark, or mahi-mahi for dinner last night to celebrate New Years Eve, those are ocean species that are seriously threatened. Recent predictions warn that these populations will crash as early as 2040, largely because of overfishing.”

The 2008 Ilia Fehrer-Judith Johnson New Year’s Day Beach Walk will begin promptly at 1 p.m. at the Assateague State Park parking lot by the concession stand. Participants will be greeted upon their return to the concession stand by ACT volunteers and Board members who will provide hot cocoa and cookies to all.

Assateague Coastal Trust is the area’s oldest and largest environmental advocacy and education non-profit.

The Assateague Island National Seashore is open year-round There are forest trails and beach walks and the island’s famous wild horses are usually within view in the marsh.