My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 1 second. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Remember: Island Beach State Park NJ (Part One)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Island Beach State Park NJ (Part One)

The entrance to the park appears suddenly in the middle of a typical Jersey Shore town.

Island Beach State Park is just south of Seaside Heights, and is literally just at the end of a neighborhood full of beach houses and the usual Jersey Shore pizza and French fry restaurants.

It costs five dollars to enter the park, and once you’re in, the beach towns feel a world away. For ten miles, a road lies on the spine of a barrier island with the Atlantic Ocean on the left and Barnegat Bay on the right. Alongside the road at various locations are trails, beach access points, interpretative centers, and kayak access areas. We made our first stop about a mile into the park.

The trail, mostly made of sand, cuts through what is called the “northern natural area”. The goal of this area of the park is to maintain a “relatively undisturbed” coastal ecosystem. It became rapidly apparent what a coastal ecosystem was with each step down the sandy trail.

Here, with the salt spray of the Atlantic coupled with wind driven sand, a unique ecosystem is created that is absent the woody deciduous growth that is typical for this particular geographic location. In its place, dense thickets of American Holly, Pitch Pine, Bayberry, Red Cedar and greenbrier form a unique and as described on a park sign “impenetrable barrier”. Throughout this area of the park, some salt and tidal marshes exist as well, due to how close the water table is to the surface of the land; on account of this, wetland plants like Shadbush, blueberry and Red Maple are also found in abundance.

Walking through this vegetation, I felt adrift in my senses. The March air was warm, but the wind from the waters felt cool and smelled of salt. I stopped to smell the air often. If it were not for the feel and smell of the air, in this thick barrier vegetation, you would never know how close you stood to Barnegat Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. That is, until the path opened through the vegetation and the deep blue of the bay became visible at the end.

I knew nothing of Barnegat Bay before yesterday. As it turns out, Barnegat Bay is famous both for extensive environmental restoration programs as well as some cultural references. E.B White used Barnegat Bay as the setting in his short story, “The Family that Dwelt Apart”. Frankie Valli name checked the bay in a song as well. It is the environmental restoration however, that make the Bay a real destination.

Both volunteer and federal programs have existed for many years to clean up and restore Barnegat Bay to pristine, natural conditions. From the NJ DEP: “In March 1995, Governor Christine Todd Whitman submitted an application to the US EPA to have the Barnegat Bay/Little Egg Harbor estuarine system included in the National Estuary Program (NEP) to be recognized as an “estuary of national significance.” The program was established by Congress under the 1987 Clean Water Act to identify, restore, and protect nationally significant estuaries of the United States.” That story continues until the present, and you can read about it here. There are many volunteer organizations. Save Barnegat Bay, Reclam the Bay, the Nitrogen Pollution Action Project and others work tirelessly to turn the tide against eutrophication and pollution. Check out this video by the folks at Reclam the Bay to see what they do, it is pretty awesome:

I walked alongside Barnegat Bay as wonder shocked as I felt walking down the trail through the incredible coastal ecosystem. I did not want to stop looking, smelling, or feeling my surroundings. I could have stayed alongside that Bay for days. I had to go though, the Atlantic Ocean beckoned. I hadn’t seen it in fifteen years and now, it was barely a mile in front of me. I couldn’t wait any longer.

(Part 2 tomorrow, with more pictures, stories and a video)



Blogger Katie Bee said...

Woah, the beach in March? I expect you to go to glacier national park in july, then, right?

March 10, 2010 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

This also may interest you:

If you're interested in preservation of open space, farms or LV history, maybe?

March 11, 2010 at 1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see how much an individual can enjoy this unique and wonderful area in the most densely populated state in the union.

March 11, 2010 at 4:27 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home