Damage sustained to areas of the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge are forcing the refuge to remain closed at this time, Refuge representatives said Thursday afternoon, Nov. 8.
The Wildlife Drive and Visitor Information Center in Galloway, the deCamp Wildlife Trail in Brick, and Holgate Beach on Long Beach Island were damaged during Superstorm Sandy, representatives said. Repair work is also under way on portions of the 50 mile, 47,000 acre refuge.
“As we begin repair work, we’re still assessing impacts on wildlife and habitat from the storm,” Refuge Manager Virginia Rettig said in a release issued Thursday afternoon.
According to the refuge, all the barrier islands, including Holgate and Little Beach Island, were overwashed by the storm.
“Although the refuge barrier beaches sustained overwash and erosion, they also appear to have served one of their ecological functions: protecting the marshes and land to the west from even worse damage," Rettig said. “The south side of the Wildlife Drive took quite a beating from Hurricane Sandy. There are large holes in the top and sides of the dike in many places and it is completely impassable in some places. We do not know how long it will take to make the repairs or how long the Wildlife Drive will be closed."
The refuge is concerned about the long-term impact of the large amount of debris carried by the tidal surge over the marsh and pushed up against the refuge's treeline.
“There is much in the way of docks, roofs, garbage, and boats that are piled up in nearly inaccessible parts of the refuge,” Rettig said.
The refuge fears some of these items may create hazardous waste issues, such as oil and gas spills.
Updates on refuge status may be found on the refuge Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ForsytheNWR . For more information, contact the refuge at (609) 652-1665 or visit www.fws.gov/northeast/forsythe/ .