Camp Hero State Park
|Camp Hero State Park|
Former gun emplacement at Camp Hero State Park
|Location||1898 Montauk Highway
Montauk, New York
|Nearest city||Montauk, New York|
|Area||415 acres (1.68 km2)|
|Operated by||New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation|
|Visitors||114,995 (in 2014)|
|Website||Camp Hero State Park|
The site known as Camp Hero, or the Montauk Air Force Station, was originally commissioned by the U.S. Army in 1942. Camp Hero was originally a coastal defense station that was disguised as a fishing village, and its location was chosen to prevent a potential invasion of New York from the sea. Camp Hero was named after Major General Andrew Hero Jr., who was the Army's Commander of coastal artillery, who died in 1942.
In 1992, Preston Nichols and Peter Moon wrote The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time in which they alleged that secret experiments were carried out at the Camp Hero site. The book was popular with conspiracy theorists, and spawned several sequels.
In 1984, the General Services Administration attempted to sell the entire facility to real estate developers. Local environmental activists protested, claiming that the site had many unique ecosystems and animal habitats. The remaining portions of the military reservation at Montauk were decommissioned and most of the facility, including Camp Hero, was donated to the National Park Service, which then turned it over to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Portions not deemed environmentally sensitive were sold off.
Camp Hero remained largely undeveloped through the 1980s and 1990s. In 1996, a feasibility study was undertaken for developing the site as a golf course. However, environmentalists were concerned that the golf course would impact rare species of plants and endangered wildlife such as the blue-spotted salamander and eastern tiger salamander, and that irrigation would deplete limited sources of groundwater on the peninsula. Although there was demand to create new golf courses on Long Island, particularly on the East End, the idea of creating a new golf course in Montauk in addition to Montauk Downs State Park was dropped in 1999.
Camp Hero State Park was opened to the public on September 18, 2002. There are plans to create a museum and an interpretive center that will focus on World War II and Cold War history inside the radar tower. Some parts of the camp remained closed off and guarded, especially the areas near the old satellite and military installations.
Camp Hero State Park offers a picnic areas, a beach, and trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. It is a popular surf fishing beach due to the underwater structure that tends to hold fish. Common game fish found in this area are striped bass and bluefish.
- NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. "Camp Hero State Park - Getting There". Parks.ny.gov. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
- NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. "Camp Hero State Park". Parks.ny.gov. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
- "State Park Annual Attendance Figures by Facility: Beginning 2003". Data.ny.gov. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
- Tagliaferro, Linda (February 11, 1996). "Plan for Montauk Golf Course Raises Concerns". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
- Lambert, Bruce (July 15, 1999). "More Golf Courses? Some Say Enough Already". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
- "State Parks Opens Camp Hero in Montauk" (Press release). New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. September 18, 2002. Retrieved October 12, 2009.
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