Island Beach State Park is on the north side of Barnegat Inlet, with a great view of the Barnegat Lighthouse, where I make an annual pilgrimage every winter to see the beautiful Harlequin Ducks.

It was my intention when I went to Barnegat Light last January to also visit Island Beach State Park, but sadly the park was still closed from Hurricane Sandy. The devastation from the storm was still quite evident as we attempted to get to the park before we found out it was still closed.

I’m happy to say that the sand has been scraped from the road and returned to the beach, enormous amounts of debris have been removed, and Island Beach State Park has reopened to the public in time for 4th of July weekend this year.

There’s still a lot of work to do, but much work has already been done to restore the fragile dune ecosystem, thanks to the extraordinary effort of hundreds of volunteers.

We started our adventure at the Nature Center, which lies less than half a mile from the beach, and less than half a mile from Barnegat Bay, so we first followed the trails out through the scrubby maritime forest till we emerged on the restored dunes, and then out onto the beach.

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