Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 383–398 | Cite as

Effects of human activities (raking, scraping, off-road vehicles) and natural resource protections on the spatial distribution of beach vegetation and related shoreline features in New Jersey

  • Jay F. KellyEmail author


This study examined the relative impacts of different human activities and natural resource protections on the spatial distribution of beach vegetation and related habitat features (wrack, dune succession) in New Jersey (USA). Field surveys of the 209-km shoreline categorized beach segments according to vegetation cover classes, human activities, protection measures (exclosures, beach management plans, access restrictions) and ownership status (federal, state, etc.). A partition model (classification tree) was used to confirm the relative dominance hierarchy of human actions on the distribution of beach vegetation observed, and quantitative comparisons of dominant activities were conducted using vegetation data collected on 218 transects. The spatial extent of beach vegetation was found to be severely restricted by human activities when unconstrained by resource protections. The greatest reductions were found to result from mechanical raking (−99 %), scraping (−91 %) and all-year recreational ORV use (−86 %), which were dominant on nearly 70 % of the state shoreline. Beaches containing larger areas of vegetation (>5 m) were concentrated in areas with resource protections of various kinds (99 %), and on federal or other public parklands (68 %). Exclosures resulted in the greatest coverage of vegetation (48 % of beach surface) compared to public access restricted areas (41 %), beach management plans (31 %), government-only ORV use (31 %), and off-season recreational ORVs (15 %). Greater protection and recovery of beach vegetation and habitat is needed for species conservation and erosion protection in New Jersey and other coastal environments where these activities occur.


Grooming ORV Coastal Zone Management GIS Landscape Endangered species habitat Shoreline erosion Classification and regression Partition model 



Support for this research was provided by Raritan Valley Community College, Rutgers University, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Office of Natural Lands Management. Information on natural resource protections was provided by Wendy Walsh (USFWS), Todd Pover and Stephanie Egger (Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey). Access and transportation to Little Beach Island, Edwin B. Forsythe N.W.R., was provided by Steve Atzert and Vinny Turner (USFWS), and at Island Beach State Park by Mark Pitchell, Rob Auermuller, Ray Burkowski and staff (NJDEP). Logistical support was provided by the USFWS, John Dighton (Rutgers Pinelands Field Station), Walt Bien (Drexel Univ., Lighthouse Center), Colleen and Pat Dougherty, Mary Ellen Marzullo, Sheila and Mike O’Neill, Sheila and Neil Patel. Special thanks to Tanya Rohrbach and two anonymous reviewers for their careful readings and helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.


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Personal communications

  1. Pover T Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Trenton, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  2. Walsh W Senior Fish And Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Jersey Field Office, Pleasantville, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  3. Egger S Wildlife Biologist, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Trenton, New JerseyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science and EngineeringRaritan Valley Community CollegeNew JerseyUSA

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