By all accounts the Cedar Bonnet Island Environmental Trail on Bonnet Island opened last month, but the closed gate at the entrance to the $9.6 million environmental mitigated site has left some members of the public wondering about its status.
“The gate and wooden bollards are to prevent vehicles from entering,” said Vinny Turner, wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. “CBI is open to foot traffic now. No cars will be permitted to access the site, other than landscaping contracting crews and emergency vehicles.”
The dog-friendly site is located on the eastbound side of the Causeway to Long Beach Island and is a collaborative effort between state and federal agencies. Mitigation work included creating wetlands, mitigating existing freshwater wetlands, and modifications of two existing stormwater basins within the Barnegat Bay watershed.
The entire trail project for the site is part of the larger $312 million federally funded Causeway expansion and rehabilitation project that connects the 3-mile roadway from Stafford on the mainland with Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island. A new bridge was constructed parallel to the existing one over Manahawkin Bay, providing the safety of a redundant route on or off the Island. The new bridge is 2,400 feet long with a vertical clearance of 55 feet over Manahawkin Bay. It currently has two lanes in each direction while the original Causeway Bridge is being rehabilitated. Ultimately, it will function as the bridge for eastbound traffic once the project is completed, with the rehabilitated original bridge carrying westbound traffic.
A few things to remember when heading out on the trail for the first time: It’s pack in and pack out, which means if you bring something in, it is your responsibility to leave with it. There are no garbage bins along the trail. Once the refuge staff is ready, there will be a landing zone for kayaking. There will be a no-push-off zone. Lastly, the trail is loose gravel and roughly a mile long, so wear appropriate shoes.
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