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Friday, April 19, 2024

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Section of ‘Ghost Tracks’ to Be Removed for Pond Creek Restoration Work

Railroad tracks reappear on Sunset Beach in Lower Township Thanksgiving week.
File Photo
Shown are the ‘ghost’ railroad tracks that appeared several years ago near Sunset Beach. A portion will have to be removed as part of the Pond Creek Restoration Project, currently underway.

By Christopher South

SUNSET BEACH – A small section of the so-called “ghost tracks” that surfaced near Sunset Beach will be removed as part of the Pond Creek Restoration Project, a spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection said.

The tracks, which were used to support mining efforts and munitions testing, were discovered in November 2014 before disappearing under the sand again. They reappeared in February 2021 due to beach erosion from winter storm Orleana, capturing the attention of locals and visitors.

Now, some of the tracks will have to be removed to allow for the restoration of Pond Creek’s original tidal flow.

“(Most of) the tracks will be left in place, except for a small portion that will be cut out by the mouth of Pond Creek,” said Caryn Shinske, senior press officer with the DEP.

Shinske explained that the section that will be removed will be used in a display to be located by the public access trail.

“The exact location and design has not been finalized,” she said.

Shinske said the approximately 80-year-old tracks are usually covered with sand and are sometimes exposed. She said the remaining tracks will not always be visible due to sand buildup, but they will remain in place during and after the project.

The restoration project was announced at a meeting in Lower Township Hall on Feb. 8. The DEP has closed off 428 of the nearly 1,200 acres that make up the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area. The actual project area is roughly 260 acres, and only 111 acres will be disturbed during the work. The DEP will be moving earth around to create a berm on the site to manage flood risks from periodic storms.

The goal of the project, according to a description posted at www.nj.gov/dep/nrr/restoration/higbee-beach.html, is to “visually open up Pond Creek tidal and freshwater habitat and provide access for viewing via a bridge crossing over the new tidal channel, berms, and connecting trails that loop around the entire project area.”

Contact the author, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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