State parks, forests, and recreation areas of New Jersey offer free entry for all, even for visitors outside the state. The waived fees will start this Memorial Day weekend, except for camping, programming, or fishing permit fees.
Governor Phil announced the free entry fees last Wednesday. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Shawn LaTourette also announced the waivers at the annual “State of the Shore” address in Asbury Park.
“From High Point State Park in Sussex County to Cape May Point State Park in Cape May County, the state park system provides endless opportunities for recreation – from swimming, hiking, and kayaking, to picnicking, exploring nature, and experiencing our rich history,” LaTourette said in a statement.
Murphy said he included the fee waiver in the fiscal year 2023 budget to promote tourism and allow everyone to access the parks.
“The fee holiday also promotes access to green, open space; thriving waterways; and the many natural wonders that make us proud to call New Jersey our home,” he said.
Visitors who have already bought an annual park pass can ask for refunds. New Jersey’s Island Beach State Park also opened today with lifeguards on duty. The state’s lakefront lifeguards will start working in mid-June.
Last Wednesday, New Jersey also issued its “State of the Shore” report. Officials said water quality monitoring and coastal flights show a clean bill of health for the Atlantic Ocean and the state’s lakes.
The DEP said beach closures are not common. However, they can occur during heavy rain conditions when stormwater systems become overwhelmed, and the droppings and pet waste from animals like geese and gulls are deposited into rivers, lakes, and the ocean. A high level of bacteria can cause swimmers to become sick.
Mild winter storms over the last four years and replenishing beaches have helped preserve the shorelines of the state, according to the DEP.
Certain beaches in Delaware weren’t so fortunate because of erosion from storms. The Nor’easter, which swept through earlier this month, damaged several Delaware beaches.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said they had closed the Navy Crossing in Cape Henlopen State Park to visitors and Keybox, Conquest, and Faithful Steward at Delaware Seashore State Park.
This article originally appeared on Whyy.