CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES ISLAND BEACH STATE PARK IS NOW FULLY OPERATIONAL FOLLOWING SUPERSTORM SANDY
FOURTH OF JULY TARGET MET
(13/P70) TRENTON – The Christie Administration’s goal of having Island Beach State Park fully operational for the peak summer season has been reached with the official re-opening of the Ocean Bathing Area 1 pavilion, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.
With the completion of four reconstructed boardwalks destroyed by Superstorm Sandy at Ocean Bathing Area 1 and Ocean Bathing Area 2, Island Beach State Park can now handle full summer visitor capacity. Most oceanside access trails for beachgoers and vehicle access points for sport fishermen are also open, as are all restroom facilities, concessions and a full slate of interpretive programs.
“I am delighted to make this announcement as we head into the July 4th holiday weekend,” Commissioner Martin said. “The Christie Administration and the DEP had targeted this time to have Island Beach State Park fully operational after it sustained considerable damage from Superstorm Sandy. Thanks to dedicated work completed by park staff, our partners, volunteers and contractors, the park is now ready to handle the peak crowds that we anticipate and welcome as visitors experience one of the crown jewels of the state park systems.”
Shaped by storms and tides, Island Beach State Park is a narrow barrier island stretching for 10 miles between the ocean and Barnegat Bay. It is one of New Jersey's last significant remnants of a barrier island ecosystem and is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the north Atlantic coast.
Ocean Bathing Area 1, which is the first main beach in the park, had reopened in January for visitors, despite the loss of access boardwalks sustained from the Oct. 29 superstorm. At that time, Ocean Bathing Area 2 was closed for repairs and to use the parking lot as a debris staging area.
In late May, Ocean Bathing Area 2 was reopened with new boardwalks and it has served as the park’s main beach access point through this early beach season while boardwalk repairs commenced at Ocean Bathing Area 1.
The park’s two bayside trails are open for visitors on foot and or those wishing to launch a permitted watercraft such as a kayak. Oceanside access trails south of the two main bathing pavilions are open, but subject to periodic closure as some minor restoration work continues.
For beach buggy users, all access points are now open. Visitors require 2013 mobile sport fishing permits to get on the beach with their vehicles. Those permits can be purchased at the park's gatehouse.
Last month, Island Beach State Park reinstated its full raft of interactive and educational nature programs, which includes numerous opportunities for children and families to experience kayak-based programs like sunset paddles, birding and a historical perspective of Barnegat Bay. Programming also include fishing lessons, ocean education and surfing lessons and guided wildlife tours in conjunction with partners Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. The park has also hired new full-time naturalist, Dr. Edward Hale, to enhance the park's interpretive programming.
Cleanups and dune restoration throughout the winter and spring were done by park staff working with volunteer and partnership efforts spearheaded by Friends of Island Beach State Park and New Jersey Beach Buggy Association.
Park hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for beachgoers and 24 hours a day for fishermen. The park's marina on 24th Avenue in South Seaside Park, which sustained great damage from Superstorm Sandy, remains closed.
“We really have come a long way at Island Beach State Park,” said Mark Texel, State Park Director. “With the park now in full operation, we invite people who love the park to come out and re-experience it if they haven’t already and we always welcome new visitors to see everything the park has to offer.”
For more on Island Beach State Park, visit http://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/parks/island.html
For an application for a Mobile Sport Fishing Vehicle Annual Permit, please visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/docs/island_beach_permit%20revised%2012-12.pdf
For more on New Jersey's State Parks, Forests and Historic Sites, please visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/index.html