Proposed Bird Habitat Near Barnegat Lighthouse Awaits Funding

Aug 08, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

There is no start date yet for the planned 42-acre beach-nesting bird habitat with a 5.5-acre tidal pond that would be created southwest of the jetty and inlet near Barnegat Lighthouse in Barnegat Light.

“The start date is pending approval of a state permit and acquisition of funding,” said Todd Pover, beach-nesting bird coordinator for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Rutgers University and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore habitat there that piping plovers and other endangered beach nesting birds had used in the past.

The project plans arose in local news last month when the Barnegat Light Borough Council approved a landowner agreement for the project. Paperwork states that the borough owns the property, but as part of the agreement, borough officials got assurance that there would be no financial requirements associated with it.

“There is no update on timing,” Pover told The SandPaper this week. “We had hoped to start this fall, but we have not received final approval on the state permit. If we were to receive the final approval soon, we might still be able to start this winter.

“We have a restriction, cannot work March 15 through Aug. 31 due to nesting of beach-nesting birds such as piping plover, so we have to work around that,” Pover said. “As far as funding, we have a pledge from the state for partial funding, but are still seeking additional funding as the full project will require more.”

The project would re-establish a small, shallow pond for foraging, “recreate highly suitable habitat for nesting” and “reduce invasive species that are encroaching on beach-nesting bird habitat.”

The invasive plant species that the plan is referring to are the Japanese sand sedge and the common reed (Phragmites australis).

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey has partnered with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension to develop the specific habitat restoration plan.

“Restoration of Barnegat Light is a critical project for the recovery of piping plover in New Jersey, which is still below Recovery Unit goals due to a lack of suitable nesting habitat (concentrated primarily in only two primary areas of New Jersey – Sandy Hook and Holgate),” describe the Project Objectives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The nesting bird species of piping plover, black skimmer, least tern and American oystercatcher are among birds on the endangered species list in New Jersey, according to the NJ. Division of Fish and Wildlife, Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

— Maria Scandale

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