The Cape May National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), composed of the Delaware Bay Division, the Great Cedar Swamp Division and Two Mile Beach Unit, was established in 1989 with the purchase of 90 acres from The Nature Conservancy. The Great Cedar Swamp Division is located in Upper and Dennis Townships and encompasses 7700 acres of the Great Cedar Swamp a large Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) swamp. The site contains significant amounts of old-growth hardwood swamp and contiguous upland forest as well as salt marsh and grassland areas. The site includes the Great Cedar Swamp Natural Heritage Priority Macrosite, containing a large organic-soil wetland in the headwaters of Dennis Creek and Cedar Swamp Creek.

Ornithological Summary

Conservation Concern - State-threatened: Barred Owl (B)

Conservation Concern - State-threatened: Cooper's Hawk (B)

Conservation Concern - State-special Concern: Broad-winged Hawk (B)

Regional Responsibility Species - BCR 30 Salt Marsh/Wetland: Salt-marsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, American Black Duck, Seaside Sparrow, Clapper Rail, Marsh Wren, Virginia Rail, Willet (B)

Regional Responsibility Species - BCR 30 Mixed Upland Forest: Wood Thrush, Kentucky Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo, Whip-poor-will, Great Crested Flycatcher, Black-billed Cuckoo, Baltimore Oriole, Northern Flicker, Black-and-white Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Broad-winged Hawk, Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Wild Turkey, Acadian Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay,
Common Grackle (B)

Significant Migrant Stopover/Flyover-Landbirds (FM, SM)

Conservation Issues

Fragmentation and habitat loss are the greatest threats occurring on the privately-owned lands adjacent to the Refuge boundary. Expanding residential and industrial development, including sand and gravel operations, have created gaps in the habitats of Cape May County. While the Cape May NWR continues to expand toward its goal of acquiring 21,000 acres, private land adjacent to the refuge should be prioritized for acquisition or targeted for outreach to landowners to promote incentives for protecting and managing habitat. Recreational activities such as off-road vehicle use disturb and degrade habitats and are a significant problem on public land. In 2007, the Cape May NWR was listed among the top 10 refuges at risk by the Defenders of Wildlife. With enough funds to pay only one refuge enforcement officer to patrol 14,000 acres, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is unable to stop illegal off-road vehicles from destroying wildlife habitat and disturbing nesting and feeding birds within the Cape May Refuge. The Comprehensive Management Plan for the refuge includes wildlife surveys, public use improvements and habitat management plans targeting upland forest, forested wetland, salt marsh, open water, and early successional habitats. Specific management objectives include the restoration of the hydrology of the salt marsh, the restoration of sand-gravel pits to Atlantic white cedar swamps (Chamaecyparis thyroides) and the development and implementation of an integrated pest management program to control invasive plant species. The refuge?s first prescribed burn was conducted in 2007 to maintain grassland habitat by promoting native warm season grasses through reduction of woody vegetation and cool season grasses.


Site is primarily a National Wildlife Refuge. Part of the area is in private hands.

Owned By: Cape May National Wildlife Refuge
US Fish and Wildlife service
24 Kimbles Beach Road
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210


Mixed upland forest with a mix of tidal and nontidal wetlands

Land Use

The nominated area is primarily a National Wildlife Refuge. The site sustains a variety of recreational visitors.

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