RESTORATION OF HIGBEE BEACH WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
428-ACRE SECTION CLOSURE NOW IN EFFECT AS SITE PREPARATION BEGINS
$37.5 million ecological restoration project at the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area in Cape May County.
The area near Sunset Beach where the ghost train tracks are is part of the area. This closure will not affect the parking lot behind Sunset Beach Gifts located on Sunset Boulevard. However, the parking lot across from the World War II Lookout Tower will be closed.
Once finished, the area will have new trails and bird observation platforms like the area near the Cape May lighthouse.
Portions of the wildlife management area, situated on Delaware Bay at the southernmost tip of the state, closed Monday, Jan. 29 for site preparation work. The meeting at the Lower Township Municipal Building will give the public an opportunity to learn more about the closure and construction schedule, as well as the benefits the Pond Creek Restoration Project will have for wildlife and ecosystems in this ecologically important area of the state.
The project, to be implemented by A.P. Construction of Philadelphia, will enhance wildlife habitats and re-establish tidal flow to the property’s marshes. The DEP anticipates that a 428-acre section of the wildlife management area will remain closed until approximately December 2026.
The closure will ensure public safety and protect and preserve the land and water areas of the 1,160-acre wildlife management area. Construction is anticipated to begin immediately following preparation work that includes fencing, signage, erosion prevention measures and site dewatering.
“We are excited to work together with other programs within DEP to restore this portion of Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area to maximize wildlife benefits and public access,” said Assistant Commissioner for Fish & Wildlife David Golden. “Once completed, the site will have a new trail network and multiple wildlife viewing platforms integrated into enhanced stopover habitat for migrating species. It will surely be one of New Jersey’s best wildlife viewing destinations.”
The Pond Creek Marsh Restoration site consists of the former Harbison-Walker magnesite facility and associated landfill, Davey’s Lake and most of the Pond Creek marsh. The plant extracted magnesium from seawater.
The main project goal is to re-establish tidal inundation to a large portion of Pond Creek Marsh without increasing flood risk to the upper watershed or inundating the eastern freshwater marsh area while allowing for habitat management of the northern marsh area.
Achieving these goals will require modifying the inlet channel to allow sufficient tidal flushing, developing a network of secondary and tertiary channels to assist tidal flow into the interior of the marsh, excavating deep flood pools for fish habitat and creating upland islands for shorebirds.
An earthen berm will also be constructed around much of the perimeter of the marsh, which will provide access to wildlife observation blinds and contribute to a trail system encircling the marsh.
The Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area is managed by NJDEP Fish & Wildlife for its value to endangered, threatened and nongame wildlife. It features 1.5 miles of pristine shoreline and has a blend of several habitat types, including dunes, forest, scrub and early successional fields.
The restored wetland project area will provide foraging and loafing habitat for raptors, such as osprey, peregrine falcons, merlins, kestrels, cooper hawks and sharp-shinned hawks during their migratory season. It also will increase food, shelter and general habitat for numerous species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
For a comprehensive project description and updated project schedule, visit the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area Tidal Marsh/Upland Restoration Project page.
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