By Molly Daly
BERKELEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) – Three months after it and neighboring Jersey Shore communities were battered by Superstorm Sandy, Island Beach State Park has reopened to the public.
Island Beach and New Jersey’s other state parks were actually closed ahead of the storm. DEP spokesman Bob Considine says it re-opened last Friday, but not fully:
“Island Beach State Park is now partially re-opened for walking, sport fishing, and 4-wheel-driving.”
With its undulating dunes, thick maritime forest, and rich plant population, the ten-mile-long barrier island is a haven for birds and critters — it hosts the state’s largest osprey Colony, and, in the spring and summer, teems with shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl, and songbirds. It’s also home to an impressive fox population.
And Considine says, Island Beach offers a welcome respite to locals still reeling from Sandy’s wrath:
“It’s free to get in right now, and you can recall the beauty of the ocean, you can reconnect with it without the ugliness that is outside that island right now. If there’s something the state can do to make these people happy, we’re glad Island Beach State Park is there.”
There’s still a lot of restoration to do, but Considine says officials are aiming to have the park fully operational by the peak summer season.