GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — After reopening last month, the Wildlife Drive section of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge will host a grand reopening event Saturday to unveil the completed repairs to the refuge’s eight-mile drive after Hurricane Sandy.

The storm caused large holes in the top and sides of Wildlife Drive and the area was forced to close for several months while repairs were made. The area had been closed since the Oct. 29 storm and reopened to the public April 20.

Repairs to the area after the hurricane were funded through the Federal Highway Administration's Emergency Relief to Federally Owned Roads program and cost $1.4 million.

The repairs were also possible because of a $10,000 donation from Texas-based Sabre Holdings, a global travel technology company. The donation was given as a gift to the refuge's Conservation Fund. The donation will allow the refuge to continue repairs of Wildlife Drive's dikes, which help separate fresh water from salt water and will benefit migrating waterfowl and shorebirds this season.

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo and Refuge Manager Virginia Rettig will speak at the grand reopening event.

Activities will include bird and nature walks, a family archery event and children’s activities in the refuge’s Nature Discovery Area.

Children’s activities will include the opportunity to plant seeds in home-made pots, scavenger hunts, animal puppets and the chance to meet T.R. Bear. The bird and nature walks will be led by expert guides, and loaner binoculars will be available.

The public will also be able to see new exhibits inside Forsythe’s Visitor Information Center.

The Wildlife Drive will be open for visitors, where certified interpretive guides will be stationed at key viewpoints to help visitors.

The Wildlife Drive portion of the refuge traverses marshland and forest and is the most popular destination on the refuge, with more than 100,000 visitors in a normal year.

To attend the reopening event

What: Grand reopening of Wildlife Drive at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

When: 8 a.m. to noon Saturday

Where: 800 Great Creek Road in Galloway Township. Free, light refreshments will be available and pre-registration is not required.

More information: Call the refuge at 609-652-1665 or see fws.gov/northeast/forsythe

Contact Donna Weaver:

609-226-9198

Follow Donna Weaver on Twitter @DonnaKWeaver