Paying to get on the sand during the warmer months, in most towns along the Jersey Shore, has become so automatic that many of us probably don't think too much about.

But New Jersey remains the only state where most public beaches come with a charge for individual beach tags.

It all dates back to a state statute from 1955, which authorized municipalities to charge fees to beachgoers as long as the collected fees are only used to improve, maintain and protect the property.

"I don't have a problem with it," Gov. Chris Christie said during a visit to Point Pleasant Beach. "I think it helps to encourage these towns to be responsible stewards of the beach and the property around the beach. It gives them skin in the game, and that's a good thing."

Badge sales in Long Branch brought in more than $2.1 million during summer 2015. Through the end of Labor Day Weekend last year, Cape May's beach tag revenue reached $2,436,000.

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Christie said most New Jerseyans don't "really mind" the fee because they have beautiful beaches to sit on and ocean water that's the cleanest it's been in recent history.

"I think while everybody would like something for free ... we've lived here all our lives. We're conditioned to getting those beach badges and paying for them," Christie said. "If we go someplace else, we'll save a couple of bucks, but the beaches won't be nearly as nice."

In the years since Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey and caused significant damage along the coast, state Sen. Mike Doherty has had a proposal that would ban beach fees in shore towns that accept federal or state aid to replenish beaches damaged by storms. To make up for a loss of beach fee revenue, the municipality would receive 2 percent of sales and use tax related to shore commerce.

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