New Jersey expects to have its second busiest state park fully operational for the peak summer season as Superstorm Sandy debris cleanup and restoration efforts continue.

Debris at Island Beach State Park (Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media NJ)

The Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday more areas of Island Beach State Park have been opened and hours have been extended from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the normal seasonal hours. Fishing access has also been extended, from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The DEP said it awarded a contract this week to New Brunswick-based Tekton Development Corp. for the reconstruction of four beach access boardwalks severely damaged by Sandy. Two are expected to be completed by Memorial Day, the other two by July Fourth, the agency said.

The nearly 10-mile-long park remains one of only a few undeveloped barrier island beaches on the north Atlantic coast, making it one of the state's favorite swimming, surf fishing and bird-watching spots.

Daily fees will be accepted at the gatehouse starting Wednesday.

For beach buggy users, the DEP said beach access will now extend south to access trail A-23, which is 8.2 miles south into the park. All three beach buggy access points are open.

The DEP said 2013 mobile sports fishing permits are now needed for those visitors seeking to get on the beach with their vehicles.

The park's two bayside trails at A-15 and A-21 are open for visitors on foot or those wishing to launch a permitted watercraft such as a kayak, the agency said, with a portable restroom available.

Earlier in April, other areas also reopened, including access trails and parking lots at A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5 and A-6.

The DEP said about a dozen trails on the ocean side remain closed. Openings will be announced as cleanup continues.


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