The Great Bay Boulevard Wildlife Management Area in Ocean County is 5,982 acres of fresh, brackish and saltwater estuary and islands acquired with funding from hunters and anglers, Green Acres and the sale of waterfowl stamps. The boulevard is a narrow two-lane road that was the beginning of a causeway to the shore that would have connected Great Bay to Atlantic City.
The road was never opened, but now provides access to a great sweep of salt marsh, with opportunities for fishing, birdwatching or simply enjoying the beautiful scenery. Great Bay is considered one of the least-disturbed marine wetland habitats in the northeastern United States.
The area has a rich history for both recreational and commercial shellfish and finfish. Abundant finfish like weakfish, summer flounder, bluefish and big black drum inhabit Great Bay. The estuary is a huge spawning area for aquatic life. NJ Fish & Wildlife also maintains a public boat launch just over the bridge at Big Thorofare Inlet. The area is also known for its waterfowl hunting opportunities and history.
Great Bay Boulevard WMA is extremely important to raptors, wading birds and shorebirds like sandpipers, willets, plovers, yellowlegs, oystercatchers and black skimmers. Raptors utilize the tidal marshes for nesting and for foraging throughout the year. Osprey nest on platforms in numerous locations throughout the salt marshes.
Owned by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and managed by NJ Fish & Wildlife, the Wildlife Management Area System is composed of more than 360,000 acres in 122 areas throughout the state, which is more than 44% of New Jersey’s state-owned public open space. Purchased with funds from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, state waterfowl stamps and through the Green Acres Program, WMAs provide habitat for fish and wildlife species, as well as outstanding hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing opportunities.
WMAs are maintained and supported with funding from license sales, the Federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program and the Wildlife Habitat Supporter Program.
WMAs are patrolled by NJ Fish & Wildlife Conservation Police Officers to ensure public safety. If you see violations while visiting a WMA, please call the 24-hour DEP hotline at 877-WARN-DEP (877-927-6337).
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