This year marks the 80th anniversary of what is now known as the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Galloway Township is very lucky to be the host municipality of the largest and most full-featured part of this 47,000-acre system. It comprises meadows, bays, rivers, creeks, beaches, dunes, transitional lands and uplands, extending from Galloway Township to Brick Township. The refuge includes the once-separate Brigantine and Barnegat refuges. Edwin B. Forsythe, a U.S. representative from New Jersey, was a conservationist and ardent supporter of the area.

In the Galloway segment, there is the main administration office building, support facilities, the new Visitor Information Center, the 8-mile Wildlife Drive loop, the Leeds Eco-Trail, observation towers, the Bristow Trail, Jen’s Trail, Akers Trail and many more features. The Visitor’s Center contains an interpretive information room, a welcoming video room and a gift shop. Attached to the Visitor’s Center is an auditorium for presentations and meetings of all types. The whole refuge is run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the National Park Service of the Department of The Interior. The current Visitor’s Center hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The refuge itself is open from dawn until dusk every day.

Forsythe refuge manager Virginia Rettig and visitor services manager Keena Graham both expressed the opinion and cited supporting studies that visiting a refuge like this is not only a good physical experience but also calming and good for mental well-being. The connection with the natural world is very real here, and there is a sense of getting away from everyday stress.

There is always a need for volunteers at the refuge for a variety of tasks, which can be tailored to many levels of abilities. The nonprofit Friends of Forsythe NWR provides a lot of those services. You can contact the Refuge for more information about how to volunteer. Please check out the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge website and Facebook page for event information, volunteer opportunities, fee information, hunter information and event schedules.

Refuge management encourages everyone to come see the juried photography exhibit ongoing until July 26, which celebrates the 80 years of the refuge system. Also, there will be a partnership with the Noyes Museum to bring a collection of duck decoys to the exhibition space. New this year will be a clamming space off the end of a trail in the Holgate area of the refuge, where folks can wade into the water to feel and catch some clams. New information is available to hunters about areas to use and the associated fees and permits.

By fully embracing our Forsythe wildlife refuge neighbor, Galloway residents can easily access its natural, historical and cultural features. Helping it to succeed will bring more visitors, help our local economy and advance the cause of wildlife, land and water management.

Go Green Galloway is a volunteer organization dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of Galloway through the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation, environmental education and the implementation of sustainable practices. We always welcome new volunteer members. Contact us at gogreengalloway12@gmail.com or call Mary at 609-742-7076. Also be sure to like our Facebook page.

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