ASSATEAGUE — A huge spike in use of the Over-Sand Vehicle (OSV) zone at Assateague Island National Seashore has resulted in a restructuring of the fees.
During the summer of 2020, the Assateague Island National Seashore (AINS) saw an 81% increase in OSV zone use from the average use over the last five years. With the spike came an increase in the cost of operating and maintaining the OSV zone. Increases in the cost recovery permit fees are intended to offset those costs to AINS without greatly impacting visitors to the OSV zone.
For example, the day-use OSV permit is currently $90. The overnight 24-hour pass, including the mandate of fishing from midnight to 5 a.m., is currently $110. The Bullpen permit is currently $150. AINS plans to simplify the fee structure by only offering a 24-hour OSV permit with fishing required midnight-5 a.m. for $110 annually. and a Bullpen rate of $150. Therefore, for those wanting the day use permit (5 a.m.-midnight) for $90 who want the same plan will see a $20 increase, or 22%, for the same permit but will be granted overnight privileges.
AINS officials pointed out 100% of the revenue from the OSV zone permits stay in the park and are used for maintenance, and visitor and resource protection. The revenue is also used to enhance visitor safety specific to the OSV zone. AINS officials also pointed out the cost of driving on the beach in other areas such as the Delaware parks and Cape Hatteras are significantly higher than the new permit fees at Assateague.
The total number of vehicles with access to the OSV zone on the Maryland side will remain at 145. As always, a beach driving permit is required, and once the 145-vehicle limit is reached, access to the OSV zone is limited to one vehicle on for one vehicle that leaves. It is not unusual for vehicles to stack up waiting to get in the OSV zone during the summer.
Many OSV users arrive early and can remain on the beach overnight if they are awake or fishing. Others can camp in the Bullpen area if they have a self-contained camper.
OSV permits may be purchased at the North Beach Visitor Center on the Maryland side, or at the Toms Cove Visitor Center on the Virginia side. For OSV permit information and current access conditions, call 410-641-3030. For general information about the national seashore, visit www.nps.gov/asis or call 410-641-1441.