SBB and a few others privately funded the State of NJ’s Interpretive Program last winter in order to save it from collapse.
Visitors to Island Beach State Park may now enjoy the beauty of the winter season by taking short guided tours.
These excursions are offered courtesy of three privately funded groups who are funding and staffing the park’s Interpretive Programs during the winter months. The state had slated these program for closure.
Visitors are guided on a forty-five minute walk from beach to bay where a variety of winter plant communities can be enjoyed.
“An amazing amount of natural beauty expresses itself in the winter months here by the ocean,” said Haley Jordan, one of four nature guides funded by Save Barnegat Bay, the Friends of Island Beach, and the Emily de Camp Herbarium.
The tours take place Saturdays at 11:00 AM through the end of March. Those interested should come to the Island Beach State Park Nature Center about one mile south of the main gate.
Although the tour is free, a standard five dollar fee per car is charged for entrance to the park.
“The windswept secondary dunes are especially beautiful in winter and remarkably different from their summer appearance,” said Tyler Branham, Botanist for the Emily de Camp Herbarium, who is coordinating the park’s Winter Interpretive Program.
Visitors are guided along a trail through the maritime forest, a nationally rare plant community, and a field of beach heather, among other natural features. Island Beach’s rich history since colonial times and before is also discussed.
The tours are ideal for both adults and children, who should dress warmly.
“Before and after the tour you are invited to the Nature Center to see our one hundred seventy-five gallon fish tank and other displays,” said Greg Moll, another of the guides.
A taste of the wintertime experience at Island Beach has been posted on YouTube. The search words “Winter at Island Beach State Park” will bring up a video created by George Chase of Save Barnegat Bay’s Project Video.
The three groups sponsoring these walks are keeping the State of New Jersey’s Island Beach Interpretive Program open because it had been slated for closure during the winter months.
“Much of the planning for the spring and summer occurs during the winter,” said Save Barnegat Bay Chairman William deCamp Jr. “So our private funding and staffing of the state’s winter program may help keep the year-round program in existence.”
Further information can be gained by phoning the park’s Nature Center at 732-793-1698.