Projects Will Be Part of 50-State Report
WASHINGTON — Just days before the release of a 50-state report outlining some of the country's most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today highlighted two projects in the state of New Jersey that will be included in the final report — representing what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
Landscape conservation and provision of water access and other recreational opportunities at Barnegat Bay are among 100 projects nationwide that will be highlighted in next week's report — two in every state — as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
The report is a result of 50 meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on how to best implement AGO in their states. These projects were identified for their potential to conserve important lands and build recreation opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities as part of close engagement with Gov. Chris Christie and the state of New Jersey, as well as private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation stakeholders. The full 50-state report will be released in the coming weeks.
“Under the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, we are listening to the people of New Jersey and communities across America and working with them on locally-based projects that will conserve the beauty and health of our land and water and open up more opportunities for people to enjoy them,” Salazar said. “My staff and I have been asking each governor for the most promising projects to support in their states, and we will do all we can to help move them forward.”
The two projects in New Jersey highlighted by Salazar in the forthcoming report are:
Barnegat Bay Water Access
Located along Barnegat Bay, Brick Township is a community of nearly 79,000 people. The state of New Jersey has designated it as an Urban Aid Community, indicating it is a low-income, high-population center in need of state funds for further support and development. Barnegat Bay is a vitally important natural, recreational, and economic resource for New Jersey and is a state priority.
The township is acquiring a 21-acre property for a park and recreation area that will provide much-needed public waterfront access and outdoor-recreation opportunities on the bay, as well as a link to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
The township has proposed improvements that include a boardwalk promenade along the bay; a kayak/canoe launch; a playground; a water-play area; and landscaping. These enhancements should be done with an environmentally friendly design to reduce storm water entering the bay and educate users about storm-water impacts on natural resources. This project supports AGO goals by increasing recreational access and providing close-to-home open spaces for underserved communities.
Barnegat Bay Landscape Preservation and Recreation
Landscape preservation in the Barnegat Bay watershed is part of a comprehensive effort to restore the coast of the nation's most densely populated state, New Jersey.
As a point of access to nature for so many residents, Barnegat Bay also is of significant recreational value. A longtime center for commercial fishing, the bay is also popular with recreational boaters and holds great potential for further ecotourism. It is also in close proximity to a number of state parks containing valuable ecosystems and wildlife habitat. Increased public access along New Jersey's waterways is, therefore, a significant state interest because it will allow residents increased environmental and recreational opportunities.
In order to achieve this, the state has placed a priority on acquiring 18 parcels totaling 1,019 acres as valuable additions to Double Trouble and Bass River state parks, as well as to Colliers Mills and Turkey Swamp wildlife management areas. These lands will provide increased public access to recreation opportunities along New Jersey's waterways and wildlife-management areas. These efforts will also improve the bay's health, further complementing AGO goals.
The report will also include potential actions by Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. In New Jersey, for example, the Department could provide financial assistance for critical land acquisition near Double Trouble and Bass River state parks and Colliers Mills and Turkey Swamp wildlife management areas.
The Department could also provide financial assistance for creating new and enhancing existing outdoor recreation areas and linking the Barnegat Bay Township to Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
The Department of the Interior will work with each of its key bureaus — including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — to direct available resources and personnel to make these projects a reality.
“The America's Great Outdoors Initiative turns the conventional wisdom about the federal government's role in conservation on its head,” Salazar said. “Rather than dictate policies or conservation strategies from Washington, it supports grassroots, locally driven initiatives.”
For more information on the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative, click here.
To view a map of the projects already announced, click here.