ISLAND BEACH STATE PARK - A group of boaters along the Jersey Shore is angry about a decision to charge a fee to enter Island Beach State Park.

Up until recently, entry into the park through Tices Shoal was free.  Visitors often anchored their boats in the bay and then walked along a pathway to the beach. However, now there will be a charge of $3 per person, and that is making many visitors angry.

“It can maybe run us up to $35 to $40 a trip, which in conjunction with gas is ridiculous,” says Carmela Pike, who often visits.

Island Beach State Park Manager Ray Bukowski says that the fee will be used to hire lifeguards at the beach, something that was not previously offered.

“The bottom line is safety,” Bukowski says.

Hundreds of people have signed an online petition started by opponent Kelly Czupkiewicz, hoping to block the fee from being required.

"Island Beach actually generates revenue over operating costs already,” she says. “If safety was a concern, they could afford to put a guard down there without charging what I think is a really exorbitant $3 a head."

Czupkiewicz says it's also unfair that boaters are being charged more than other beachgoers. It's only $6 for an entire carload if you live in New Jersey.

Bukowski says the state of New Jersey does not expect to make a profit from this fee, only cover the costs of lifeguards. 

Boaters can buy a season pass for $50, which admits six people per visit.