The United States Congress designated the Brigantine Wilderness (map
) in 1975 and it now has a total of 6,681 acres
All of this wilderness is located in New Jersey
and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 1984, to posthumously honor a New Jersey conservationist congressman, Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge (established in 1939) and Barnegat National Wildlife Refuge (established in 1967) were combined to create the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
Although the refuge consists of more than 39,000 acres, less than 7,000 acres in the southern division (the Brigantine) qualify as Wilderness. This trailless area, a tidal wetland and shallow bay habitat, is one of the most active flyways for migratory waterbirds in North America. Birdwatchers, binoculars in hand, have zoomed in on close to 300 species, including Atlantic brant and American black duck.
The Wilderness also protects Holgate and Little Beaches, two of the few remaining barrier beaches in New Jersey. Grasses on these shores stabilize the fragile dunes and safeguard the rare piping plover, black skimmer, and least tern.
The refuge is open during daylight hours, but there are prohibitions on camping, fires, horses, kite flying, swimming, flower picking, or anything else that might endanger the wildlife and their habitat. During nesting season (mid-April to mid-July), the area is closed to all public use. In the same protective vein, access to some portions is restricted to people with special-use permits for research and education.