Moore's Beach Restoration Underway

--Written by Jean Lynch, photos by Jean Lynch

Moore's Beach is a classic Delaware Bayshore site-a mile and a half long access road, flanked by salt marsh, leads you to a narrow beach with almost a mile of shoreline.  This site is used by native wildlife such as diamondback terrapins, horseshoe crabs, shorebirds, raptors, and laughing gulls; in fact, it used to be one of the Bayshore's most heavily used shorebird stopover sites during spring migration.  The land is owned by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and is officially part of Heislerville Wildlife Management Area.

Despite its historical condition, the site is marred by tons of rubble from years ago, a legacy of a community defending itself against storm surges and rising seas. When the land was acquired by the state, the homes and the majority of the infrastructure were removed. Years later the beach still retains a large amount of rubble, including cinder blocks, drain pipes, stone, brick, asphalt, pilings, and other debris. Not only does the debris detract from the experience of visiting Moore’s Beach, but it is also suspected of interfering with the natural dynamics of sand dispersion on the beach, creating obstacles to horseshoe crab movement. Hurricane Sandy eroded the beach further, reducing the amount of quality available nesting and foraging habitat for crabs and birds. The mile and a half-long access road has also become degraded over time, with potholes visible from satellite photos.

View this as the past. For more than a year, NJ Audubon and several partners have been developing the plan to improve this habitat for horseshoe crab spawning and shorebird foraging, and to improve visitor access. Now, thanks in part to attention and resources brought in response to Hurricane Sandy, restoration of the beach is underway. 

As of this writing, the road is being patched to allow heavy equipment to reach the beach. Once the road has been adequately prepared, equipment will be brought onto the beach to conduct large-scale rubble removal. We hope to have the rubble removal completed by the end of April, in time for this year’s shorebird migration! Work not completed by that time, including sand replenishment, will be undertaken after the migration and bird breeding season are over. Other improvements we are striving for include interpretive signs, a viewing platform, parking and other enhancements for visitors and wildlife.

Our partners include the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, owners of the site, and LJ Niles Associates LLC. Larry Niles and Dianne Daly deserve special recognition for their key leadership roles on the project. Funding in support of the project has been provided by the DuPont Clear into the Future Program, the State of New Jersey Natural Resource Damages Fund, the Dodge Recovery Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the William Penn Foundation.

Readers should be aware that access to Moore’s Beach is normally restricted from early May to early June to protect migrating shorebirds.