Photo of Stone Harbor Point Beach by Nellie Tsipoura 

Stone Harbor Point Restoration
Stone Harbor Point provides a protective barrier to the Borough of Stone Harbor from damaging coastal storms and sea level rise.  Sand from re-nourishment activities north of the Point provides a continual resupply of sand to the area through southerly longshore drift. This ensures a long-term supply of sand for restoration. Through local sand harvesting (ie. no dredging or trucking in sand) we will build elevation and improve habitat quality for coastal birds, and reduce coastal flooding.   Because materials are present locally, the cost for sand acquisition and transport will be greatly reduced and sustainable. 

 NJ Audubon received a grant through National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program to restore and enhance beaches at Stone Harbor Point, Cape May. We are partnering with L. J. Niles and Associates, the Wetlands Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Conserve Wildlife Foundation, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Richard Stockton College of NJ Coastal Research Center, and the Borough of Stone Harbor to increase available quality habitat for migratory and beach nesting birds, and coastal resiliency for the Borough and its residents.

The first year of the project was 2015.  Work was completed on March 12, 2015.  The project resulted in two areas of elevated habitat that will decrease flooding risks for nests of beach nesting birds and roosting habitat for shorebirds.  It also created an elevated peninsula on the bay side, separated from the Point with a runnel.  Finally, a resiliency dune will protect the community from flooding from the south. The additional restoration was needed in 2016 to repair damage from storms, especially winter storm Jonas that on January 23-24, 2016 brought high tides and wind swept water to the Point.  

Through monitoring we will document any biological impacts of sand harvesting on intertidal invertebrate communities to determine if this method is an ecologically sound approach for protected wildlife areas.  We will also monitor use of the site by migratory shorebirds (Red Knot, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sanderling, Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, American Oystercatcher, etc.) and beach nesting birds (Piping Plovers, American Oystercatchers, Black Skimmers, Least Terns).  Furthermore, we will conduct outreach programs to decrease human disturbance at the site and predator control to ensure improved nesting success.

The central question in our project was how to create a resilient form of the ephemeral habitat so characteristic of beach nesting and migrant shorebirds.Together they nest or roost in the same isolated sandy areas that are periodically swept by the sea. Their habitat is a delicate balance: if swept too frequently the birds will be flooded; if flooded too little,vegetation grows providing vital cover for predators.


Our approach was to create a system in which restored habitat can be easily re-restored. We used sand accreting yearly in Hereford Inlet – in recent years it equals a foot ball field block of sand 60 feet high.  Much of it accumulates at the point where we now harvest sand. Our work thus far shows there is plenty of sand to restore lost habitat and enough accreting each year to maintain it. 

This small sandy investment would pay off big for birds. At one time not long ago the point was home to colonies of  least terns, black skimmers and common terns as well as one of the densest piping plover and oystercatcher populations in the state. ​At one time nearly all the red knots that migrate to Delaware Bay in May, used the point as a safe roost. Now the colonial nesters are gone​, ​the few plovers that remain are unproductive and the roosting shorebirds of Delaware Bay seek other roosts.

Our small project has the big hope of restoring Stone Harbor Point to its past avian glory.  


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Click For NEWS FROM THE FIELD - Monitoring

Updates on beach nesting bird, migratory shorebird and benthic invertebrate monitoring! 

Elevated areas were created to provide nesting areas for beach nesting birds, such as Piping Plover and American Oystercatcher that will flood significantly less during lunar or storm-driven tides. We also created a narrow channel adjacent to one of the elevated areas, on the bay side of the peninsula to provide foraging and roosting habitat for migratory shorebirds, such as Red Knot and Semipalmated Sandpiper as well as nesting habitat.  This "island" habitat is surrounded by water during high tides and is used by American Oystercatcher, Common and Least Terns and Black Skimmers.

We are monitoring bird use at the site through the breeding and migration seasons to determine whether the birds are using the newly created habitat and are successful.  We are also monitoring the abundance and species diversity of benthic invertebrates to document any impacts of the project on their populations.