Holgate Usage Guidelines
Holgate’s dunes, and all vegetated areas including the salt marsh, are closed to all public use or entry throughout the year. Vegetation serves an important function on barrier islands in terms of improving island stability, which provides critical habitat for wildlife and an essential buffer from high sea events for people on the mainland. Healthy dunes and vegetation areas make the island more resistant to erosion and improve sustainability during strong storm events. Even just walking across dunes may harm stabilizing vegetation and can result in erosion, loss of critical habitat, and greater exposure to the ravages of storm events for mainland residents.
Because Holgate is such an important site for beachnesting birds in spring and summer, regulations for public use of its beach front and south tip differ greatly by season:
Nesting Season - April 1 through August 31:
Holgate is closed to all public use, including boat landings, during this season. This helps to ensure that endangered piping plovers have high-quality, undisturbed nesting habitat. Spring and summer beach public use would interfere with refuge objectives, and with the refuge's established purposes. These dates may be adjusted based on actual use by beach-nesting birds. The southern tip of Holgate may be closed beyond September 1, to protect late-nesting black skimmers.
Non-Nesting Season - September 1 through March 31:
The beach front is open to pedestrians and four-wheel-drive vehicles for such wildlife-oriented activities as wildlife observation, photography, nature study, and fishing. Bayside mudflats may remain closed until later September to protect migrating shorebirds. (Drivers must possess a valid Long Beach Township beach buggy permit for the vehicle they are driving.) It is recommended that vehicles use the intertidal zone when possible. Its harder packed sands provide better traction than the loose sands of the beach. Occasionally some areas of Holgate's beach may not be accessible to vehicles due to ongoing, naturally occurring variations in beach width, or because of excessively high tides. Drivers must use caution, and not enter closed areas.
Prohibited activities include entering closed areas -- including dunes and salt marsh; disturbing wildlife or vegetation; feeding wildlife; possession and/or use of fireworks, or weapons/firearms; trapping; hunting; fires; and non-wildlife oriented activities such as ball or frisbee playing, kite flying, horseback riding, camping, use of metal detectors, and collecting of valued objects; speeding; careless driving. Pets are prohibited.