Island Beach State Park Opened Again After Sandy [AUDIO]
Superstorm Sandy was no match for Island Beach State Park, and now, a little over eight months later, the full 10-mile stretch of bathing beaches, boardwalks and nature reserves have re-opened for the vital tourism season.
Park Manager Ray Bukowski says a lot of manpower and time went into the process and they are fully aware of what's happening outside the borders of the park.
"We know there are many communities that are still suffering. This isn't meant to overshadow that. We want people to know we are open and they can have access to recreation, daily."
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.
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.
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 their website.
More information on New Jersey's State Parks, Forests and Historic Sites can also be found online.