The release of 500 trout into Flynn's Pond in the Cape May area marked the formal dedication of the Cox Hall Creek Wildlife Management Area by the state Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday.

The dedication was made possible by a Green Acres Program purchase of the former Ponderlodge Golf Course in Lower Township on the tip of the Cape May peninsula. The DEP says the site provides "critical habitat" to a variety of plant, animal and bird species.

The area is considered to be one of the state's most ecologically critical regions.

"The DEP has worked very closely with the local community every step of the way in the acquisition and restoration of this site," Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda said in a statement.

"Equally important, this Wildlife Management Area is providing wonderful opportunities for the public to enjoy nature and the outdoors."

The DEP says Flynn's Pond, which is the state's southernmost trout water body, will receive some 2,000 trout in the coming weeks.

Trout season this year opens on April 7.