By Sue Ellen Woodcock
It’s something Winthrop veterans have been doing since Sept. 13, 2001 – just two days after the worst terrorist attack in United States history. The local veterans have been placing an American flag on the breakwater at Winthrop Beach every year.
But this past Saturday, as they secured the final guide-wires on the pole and left the beach, the Massachusetts State Police stopped them.
According to Elliot Hammerman, whose son, grandson and great grandson, all help raising the flag this year, the veterans drove an old army jeep on the beach to the site with all the equipment needed to erect the flag.
“Apparently someone called the DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation) and were concerned about the Piping Plover (nesting area),” Hammerman said. He added that no one drove through any nesting area.
According to David Procopio, spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, “No vehicles are allowed on the beach because of the Piping Plover nesting area, which is a valuable natural resource and which is protected by the state for good reason. After being notified by DCR that there was a vehicle on the sand shortly after noon on Saturday, we sent a trooper to the beach and he resolved the situation.”
Procopio added that the Piping Plover protections on Winthrop and Revere beaches are there for good reasons, and we enforce them.
“We do so with no disrespect to the people who enjoy the beaches, but rather, to protect valuable natural resources that enhance the beach environment and ecosystem for everyone, human and wildlife alike,” he said.
According to Troy Wall, of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the DCR preferred to defer to the Massachusetts State Police since the incident was a police matter.