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Cape May
National Wildlife Refuge

24 Kimbles Beach Road
Cape May Court House, NJ   08210
E-mail: Brian_Braudis@fws.gov
Phone Number: 609-463-0994
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Cape May NWR provides numerous opportunities for wildlife observation, and the Cape May Peninsula is one of the top bird watching spots in North America.
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Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

The Cape May National Wildlife Refuge is strategically located to conserve habitat for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds which pass through the area each year. As the New Jersey Coast and the Cape May Peninsula witness the loss of natural habitat, the refuge, in concert with various partners, is working to ensure that important habitats are preserved. These efforts will provide opportunities for future generations of Americans to enjoy the spectacular concentrations of shorebirds, songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl which have made the Cape May area famous for birdwatching.

These areas are considered so important that refuge lands are included in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, a "Ramsar" Wetland of International Importance, part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, the Pinelands National Reserve, an Important Bird Area, within the Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and Recreational River, and a destination on the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route.

Getting There . . .
From the Garden State Parkway, take Exit 10 west into Cape May Court House. At Highway 9 turn south (left), then turn west (right)onto Hand Avenue. At Highway 47 turn south (left) and then west (right)onto Kimbles Beach Road. The Refuge Headquarters is ahead about 1/4-mile on the left.

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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

The refuge offers unique habitat in each division. The Great Cedar Swamp Division is approximately 5,000 acres and offers unique viewing opportunities of Atlantic white cedar stands and wet woods habitat. The Delaware Bay Division is made up of 5,000 acres and offers opportunities to see the horseshoe crab and shorebird phenomenon along the Delaware Bay beaches. The Cape May lowland swamp, which is unique to the peninsula and located in this division, is made of deciduous forest swamp with unusually high species diversity and is found in headwaters areas. The Two Mile Beach Unit is a 500 acre piece that offers opportunities to see barrier beach habitat and shorebirds. Approximately half of this unit is below mean high tide. The acreage above mean high tide is mostly wetland habitat with a portion being upland habitat and representing one of the best remaining Maritime Forests. Each division is not contiguous and is divided up into many tracts of lands. The refuge as a whole is about half wetland and about half upland with forests (wetland and upland) representing the largest habitat type. The wetlands are dominated by woody vegetation (swamps). Salt marsh makes up about 15% of the refuge, forested wetlands make up 30%, shrub/scrub wetlands and bogs make up about 4%, and open water makes up less than 1%. Forested uplands make up about 42%, shrub/scrub uplands make up 3%, grassland/old fields make up 3%, and beaches make up less than 1%.

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Cape May National Wildlife Refuge was established in October 1989 for use as a sanctuary and for management for migratory birds, the development, advancement, management, conservation, and protection of fish and wildlife resources, and for the conservation of wetlands. The first piece of land was purchased from The Nature Conservancy which was a 90-acre tract. Since then, the refuge has acquired over 11,000 acres from willing sellers and hopes to acquire approximately 21,000 acres through the land acquisition program. The refuge is made up of 3 distinct units, the Delaware Bay Division, the Great Cedar Swamp Division, and the Two Mile Beach Unit. The Two Mile Beach Unit property was acquired through the transfer of property from the U.S. Coast Guard, Loran Support Unit in October 1999 after being declared excess to the U.S. Coast Guard in 1997.

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Recreation and Education Opportunities
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Management Activities
Since being established in 1989, the refuge has protected 11,000 acres of upland forest, forested wetland, saltmarsh, ocean-front beach, maritime forest, and grassland/old field habitats. The refuge continues to steadily grow, with a goal of eventually acquiring a total of 21,000 acres.

With a landbase established, the refuge is now entering a phase where various management programs are being developed and implemented: habitat management plans and wildlife surveys are being developed; refuge staff work closely with other biologists studying shorebirds and horseshoe crabs on Delaware Bay; endangered species and beach nesting birds are closely monitored; and public use improvements are being developed as described in the Comprehensive Conservation Plan. Habitat Restoration and public use improvements have also recently been completed at the Two Mile Beach Unit.