The Holgate portion of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge closed its gates on Oct. 27, 2012, in preparation for the arrival of Superstorm Sandy.
The refuge section at the southern tip of Long Beach Island will reopen for pedestrian access on Sunday, Sept. 1. Holgate will reopen to vehicle access when beach buggy permits are available for sale by Long Beach Township.
“We are looking forward to reopening Holgate to fisherman and wildlife watchers, now that the beach-nesting bird season is over,” said Refuge Manager Virginia Rettig.
The Holgate section of the refuge is routinely closed to all access from April 1 to Aug. 31 each year, to protect endangered nesting birds, she said
Beach buggy drivers should contact Long Beach Township for permit information. Drivers must stay below the high tide line, Rettig said.
The Holgate beach was "substantially altered" by Superstorm Sandy. The storm created large overwash areas where sand was spilled over onto areas that were shrubby dunes before the storm, she said.
Some of the breached areas formed new habitats for nesting birds. While storm waters overwashed the island, no new inlet was created, the refuge reports.
“We’re pleased that while the beach has changed since Hurricane Sandy, it will still be possible for beach buggies to access Holgate," Rettig said. "However, beach drivers will need to be extra careful due to the changes, which altered the beach profile and will limit the times when the beach will be driveable.
"At and near high tide, the water reaches the dunes in some areas,” she added. “It is important that beach buggy drivers adhere to established rules which do not permit driving above the wet/dry line.”
Access to the Holgate portion of the Forsythe NWR is subject to special regulations. Pedestrians and vehicles are allowed only on the beach. No pets are allowed. Most of Holgate is a federally designated Wilderness Area, comprised of fragile dunes and marshes.
For more information about Forsythe NWR, contact the refuge at (609) 652-1665 or visit www.fws.gov/refuge/edwin_b_forsythe/ .