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Edwin B. Forsythe
National Wildlife Refuge

Atlantic City skyline from Forsythe NWR
Great Creek Road
Oceanville, NJ   08231
E-mail: forsythe@fws.gov
Phone Number: 609-652-1665
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The refuge's location in one of the Atlantic Flyway's most active flight paths makes it an important link in the vast network of national wildlife refuge.
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Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
F orsythe NWR, located 10 miles north of Atlantic City, is composed of two separate Divisions, Barnegat in the north and Brigantine in the south. The Brigantine and Barnegat Divisions were originally two distinct refuges, established in 1939 and 1967 respectively, to provide important wintering habitat for waterfowl, especially black ducks and Atlantic brant. The Divisions were combined in 1984 under the Edwin B. Forsythe name, in honor of the late conservationist Congressman from New Jersey. The refuge complex covers approximately 46,000 acres in three counties including Atlantic, Burlington, and Ocean.

Nearly 80 percent of Forsythe Refuge is tidal salt meadow and marsh, interspersed with shallow coves and bays. Most of the remainder of the refuge acreage is woodlands dominated by pitch pines, oaks, and white cedar, with some fields which are maintained to provide habitat diversity. More than 6,000 acres are designated as Wilderness Area. This includes Holgate and Little Beach, two of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches in New Jersey. These pristine sites provide critical nesting habitat for threatened piping plovers and a wide variety of other beachnesting species. Beaches and dunes provide nesting habitat for piping plovers, black skimmers and least terns. Occasionally peregrine falcons, bald eagles and osprey are seen.

Each spring and fall, thousands of water birds stop at Forsythe Refuge during their long migrations. Waterfowl, wading birds, and shore birds may be viewed from the Wildlife Drive as they feed and rest. Refuge uplands also provide important stopover habitat for migrating passerines.

Forsythe is a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site, a Wetlands of International Importance site under the Ramsar Convention, and an important birding area. It also is a part of The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve and The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail. In 2002 the refuge was the recipient of the New Jersey Governor's Eco-Tourism Award.

Getting There . . .
The refuge's headquarters and main public use area is located at its Brigantine Division on the mainland, at Oceanville, New Jersey. From US 9, visitors may enter the refuge via Great Creek Road, which ends at the refuge's gate.

The Barnegat Platform is located in Barnegat on Bay Shore Drive off of Route 9 between Ridgeway and Edison Avenues.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

New Jersey coastal wetlands have long been the preferred habitat of large numbers of Atlantic brant and the American black duck --a species which has suffered major population declines over the years. While the refuge's primary concern is to meet the habitat needs of these two species, we manage refuge habitats to support a wide variety of water birds and other wildlife. Special emphasis is also placed on protection and habitat management for the endangered and threatened bird species which nest here.

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Permanent settlement of the Forsythe Refuge area by Euro-Americans began in the second quarter of the 18th century. This was preceded by a long period of contact with Native American Lenape through offshore fishing and the fur trade.

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No closures are scheduled at this time. (updated November 8, 2006)

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Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
New Jersey coastal wetlands are a major wintering area for Atlantic brant and American black duck. While meeting the habitat needs of these two species is a primary concern here, the refuge's diversified habitats are managed to support a wide variety of water birds and other wildlife. Special emphasis is also given to protection and habitat management for the endangered and threatened bird species which nest here. Salt water tidal marshes are actively protected to ensure they continue to provide spawning and nursery areas for fishes and feeding and resting habitat for migratory birds. The Brigantine Division manages two large fresh water impoundments for waterfowl and shorebirds. Water levels are lowered in the spring to provide feeding areas for shorebirds and stimulate the growth of moist soil vegetation. This vegetation will provide seeds that feed migrating waterfowl in the fall. With the fall migration, water levels are raised to provide feeding areas for waterfowl. The Barnegat impoundments are being renovated to provide stop over habitat for migrating waterfowl.

The upland portion of the refuge is divided between pitch pine, oak forest and white cedar-red maple swamps. Deer are controlled in these areas to ensure there is adequate ground nesting cover for nesting passerines and woodcock. Fields are maintained in the midst of these wooded communities to increase habitat diversity.

Holgate and Little Beach, two undeveloped barrier beaches, are protected and managed for beach nesting birds. The federally listed piping plover is intensively monitored during the nesting season and visitor access is restricted.