Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area
Ecology and Management
The Manahawkin impoundments were originally built in 1961 by the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Ocean County New Jersey Mosquito Extermination Commission. Their original purpose was both mosquito control and waterfowl production, and they were fitted with water control pumps to manage water levels. The pumps eventually fell into disrepair, and while they were considered for replacement in the early 2000s, it was not found to be cost effective. Today the impoundments contain a mix of open water and marsh grasses, with shrubs and small trees on the dikes. They attract a variety of waterbirds, and the Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area in which they occur is considered a New Jersey Important Bird Area. Water levels are not currently managed in the impoundments and there are no imminent plans for restoration.
These impoundments are vulnerable to overtopping and erosion as the dikes average only about 2 feet above mean high water level. However, they are also somewhat protected by a large expanse of salt marsh. Woody vegetation and muskrat burrows may pose structural problems to the dikes.
The Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area is a popular birding spot in central New Jersey, especially the road from which the impoundments can be viewed.
We are grateful to Joseph Schmidt (Ocean County New Jersey Mosquito Extermination Commission), Peter Winkler (NJDFW), and Dave Golden (NJDFW) for providing helpful information used on this page.