DEP Closes Sections of Bay & Ocean Beaches for Protection of Rare Migratory Shorebirds

The following are exerts from the text of a DEP news release issued Friday, May 12, 2006:

TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced the temporary closure of several beaches both on the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to protect critical feeding and resting areas for threatened and endangered migratory shorebirds.

Effective immediately, certain sections of Delaware Bay beaches will be closed through June 7 to allow populations of shorebirds, particularly the rapidly declining red knot, to feed undisturbed. Every year, the red knots, a threatened species, stop on bay beaches to feed on the fat-rich eggs of the horseshoe crab and gain the weight they need to successfully complete their migration to breeding grounds in the Arctic. Various beaches have been closed seasonally since 2003.

Closings on the Delaware Bay affect Gandys Beach, Fortescue Beach and Raybins Beach, all in Downe Township; Moores Beach in Maurice River Township; Reeds Beach, Kimbles Beach, Pierces Point, Rutgers Beach, Norburys Landing, Cooks Beach, Highs Beach and Sunray Beach, all in Middle Township; and Villas Beach in Lower Township.

On the Atlantic Ocean, the northeast end of the Malibu Beach Wildlife Management Area in Egg Harbor Township and Stone Harbor Point/Champagne Island in Stone Harbor Borough/Middle Township, located on Ocean Drive west of Longport, is closed to all access now through Oct. 15.

The closed areas of the beaches will be marked with printed signs and roped off from the end of the street to the water's edge. DEP staff and volunteers will be on hand at most beaches to help the public learn more about shorebirds, horseshoe crabs and the importance of enabling the birds to feed undisturbed. Maps depicting the closed areas are available on the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife Web site at: