Island Beach State Park Ready For The Holiday
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Island Beach State Park. July 2, 2013
One of New Jersey’s most popular parks is ready for the Independence Day holiday, saying most of damage from Superstorm Sandy has been repaired.
All the major visitor areas at Island Beach State Park including renovated boardwalks and bathhouses have reopened.
Park Manager Ray Bukowski says it’s important to have recreation available for residents in nearby towns that were hard hit by Sandy.
“The local communities are still suffering. There are a lot of people who are still displaced. This doesn’t overshadow that. This just allows people the opportunity to recreate when they can. It also makes sure that we can have our facility open to help drive the local economy and the folks who depend upon the tourism.’
Bukowski says educational nature programs at the park are being enhanced.
“We’re going to teach folks how to clam and crab and the ecology around the shellfish and Barnegat Bay in general so that we not only teach people what the resources are out there but grow to be constituents for the bay so that we can support the Barnegat Bay restoration efforts.”
Paul Harris is president of the New Jersey Beach Buggy Association. He says surf fishing conditions at Island Beach State Park are better now than they were before Sandy.
“The storm has washed a lot of holes in. It’s changed the sandbars around quite a bit. There’s a lot more holes to fish and a lot more slues to fish and the slues are wider than they had been in previous years.”
The slue is the area between an outer bar and the beach.
State Park Service director Mark Texel says it cost more than half million dollars to restore the park and New Jersey is hoping to get 90 percent of that back from FEMA.
He says the revenue the park collects from fees charged to visitors covers the operating costs.
“So this park is sustainable and because its sustainable it helps us use our budget. It lets us then redeploy those resources elsewhere. So for us it was critical that we had Island Beach almost back to full capacity in them for this season.”