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October 1, 2004

State to preserve strip of beach

By JULIA GLICK Staff Writer, (609) 272-7213
Press of Atlantic City


EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - The stretch of island beach just before the Ocean City-Longport bridge is strictly for the birds - and for the fisherman.

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday that it has purchased the private beach and will improve it as a public fishing spot and wildlife preserve for the least tern and other endangered birds.

Nature-lovers long trespassed on the undeveloped beach owned by Albert A. Ciardi Jr., a Philadelphia attorney. Dog-walkers called the beach "dog beach". Fishermen knew it as "the mudhole". Now it will become part of the Malibu Beach Wildlife Management Area, and it will be free and open to the public as part of Gov. James E. McGreevey's Green Acres project.

"With the preservation of these 29 acres, we are ensuring the Malibu Beach area remains a place for New Jersey families to enjoy for generations to come," McGreevey said in a DEP press release.

The flat beach, with sweeping views of three towns, an estuary and the ocean, sits at the base of the new bridge spanning Great Egg Harbor Inlet. The department purchased the land for $975,000 and will be reimbursed by the state Department of Transportation, which is working to repair construction damage.

The Cape May County Bridge Commission, which built the new Longport bridge that crosses the property, transformed the old bridge there into a fishing pier. It will also remove billboards and construct a parking area for visitors, who have been parking on the sides of the road.

Still, despite the planned improvements, regular visitors to the beach remain skeptical and fiercely protective of their secret spot.

"I am glad to hear that they bought it up, because it will not be developed," said Bob Gest from Somers Point, who walks and often unleashes his Labradors on the beach. "But the reality is, they are not doing us or the fishermen any favors."

He said he is worried that the state will forbid owners from letting their dogs run free. "Anytime the DEP or one of those agencies come in, we lose our freedoms," he said.

Don Brown, who has fished and watched birds there for 28 years, said that he has seen the area deteriorate because of sand that has been dredged and dumped there by nearby developments. He said he doubts that the state will do anything to stop the destruction.

"It is a very special place to me, but it's doomed either from sand or people," he said.

Ciardi, the original owner who battled for 20 years to develop the site, was more optimistic. "In final analysis, it was a beautiful piece of land, probably the last piece of untouched beach along the Atlantic Ocean," he said. "It needed to be preserved."
 

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DEP Announces Addition to Malibu Beach Wildlife Management Area

Fulfills Governor's Promise to Increase Fishing Access

(04/113) Trenton -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the preservation of the final remaining open space parcel adjacent to the Malibu Beach Wildlife Management Area in Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County. DEP will manage the beachfront property as part of the Malibu Beach Wildlife Management Area.

"This is a victory for anyone who has ever spent time in New Jersey's coastal regions," said Governor James E. McGreevey. "Our beaches are among our state's greatest treasures. With the preservation of these 29 acres, we are ensuring the Malibu Beach area remains a place for New Jersey families to enjoy for generations to come."

The newly preserved property is located at the foot of a new bridge that spans Great Egg Harbor Inlet, connecting Longport in Egg Harbor Township and Ocean City, Cape May County. It includes nearly one mile of beachfront, a pond and uplands. The beachfront provides habitat for waterfowl including black duck and mallards and the threatened least tern and piping plover. In addition, the property serves as a stopover for migratory shore birds including red knots, sandpipers, ruddy turnstones and dunlins during the spring and fall.

"The preservation of this Malibu Beach parcel will protect threatened species habitat, restore vulnerable wetlands and provide opportunities for fishing," said Commissioner Campbell. "This acquisition will provide additional outdoor amenities including enhanced ocean views and fishing access and increased access to the wildlife management area by adding parking spaces."

The DEP Green Acres Program acquired the Malibu Beach property, which will be open to the public, for $975,000. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) will reimburse Green Acres for the purchase price of the land. DOT will restore wetlands on a portion of the property near the pond and Longport Boulevard to mitigate impacts from a nearby bridge project on Route 52. In addition, DOT will remove concrete rubble from the site.

"Under Governor McGreevey's leadership, the DOT is committed to making preservation of open space a priority," said DOT Commissioner Jack Lettiere. "We are working closely with Commissioner Campbell to ensure projects like the Route 52 Causeway replacement contribute to the protection of New Jersey's natural treasures."

Under the terms of the permit for the new bridge, the Cape May County Bridge Commission will make several improvements to the site. These projects include the transformation of the old Longport Bridge into a fishing pier and the demolition of a building on the newly acquired Green Acres parcel. In addition, the Cape May County Bridge Commission will remove billboards on the property to enhance the views of Great Egg Harbor Inlet, Longport and Ocean City. A parking area will be created to enhance public access to the fishing pier, which is a popular site for bass, blackfish and tautog fishing.

The purchase of this property reflects Governor McGreevey's commitment to expand public access to fishing waters. On April 13, 2002, Governor McGreevey directed DEP to use Green Acres funds to purchase access rights along productive fishing streams that allow the public to wade and walk along the streambed and banks in key areas of the state. In response, DEP purchased 43 properties, including the Malibu Beach property, which provide fishing access to the public. The properties are located in thirteen counties throughout the state and comprise 3,662 acres of permanently protected open space.

The DEP Green Acres Program purchases land to protect environmentally sensitive open space, water resources and other significant natural and historical open space. Land acquired becomes part of the statewide system of parks and forest, wildlife management areas and natural areas.

Since Governor McGreevey took office, the Green Acres Program has acquired 68,952 acres of open space- 45,873 acres for state projects, 11,797 acres for local projects and 11,282 acres for nonprofit groups. To date, the Green Acres Program has protected more than 551,358 acres of open space and provided funding to develop hundreds of parks statewide. The statewide system of preserved open space and farmland totals more than 1.27 million acres.
 

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I am glad to hear about it as this can be a good spot. Never heard it called Malibu beach before. Has anyone else?

Still get that gnawing feeling though that we will see next year....

"someone reported possibly seeing a possibly rare bird fly near the area. Beach is now closed 100 days a year.
 

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Well, the beach was ALWAYS closed before the state bought it, but no one cared ;) . Everyone on that beach, including myself, was trespassing, as it was privately owned.

Malibu Beach WMA extends onto the other side of the LP causeway. Those parcels of saltmarsh had been acquired by the DEP several years ago. I think (?) the name comes from when the old Dunes Club was still there, but that's just a guess.
 
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