Blue Acres demolitions in the Bay Point section of Lawrence Township began this past week, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The Blue Acres program buys properties that have experienced repeated flood losses, removes structures and cedes the land to a wildlife management area operated by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. The area can then provide habitat for wildlife and a buffer in future storms for properties located farther inland.

A total of 20 homes on a peninsula in Cumberland County jutting into the Delaware Bay are being demolished in the $10 million effort, funded by state and federal funds. Piling or docks will be removed from another 14 vacant lots, according to DEP.

Demo work is being done by Site Enterprises and includes approaches from both land and water, DEP said.

Due to wildlife habitat restrictions, work can only be done in the water through Feb. 28, 2018. Work must be completed by April 14, DEP said.

Ventnor scores bigger flood insurance discount: Ventnor property owners who have flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program will start to receive a 25 percent flood insurance discount next May, up from the 20 percent discount they had been receiving, the city announced last week.

The city has done what is needed to be certified as a Class 5 community by the NFIP’s Community Ratings Program, which encourages towns to take steps to reduce their flood-loss risk.

There are 4,747 property owners in Ventnor with flood insurance covering more than $1 billion in property. Policyholders paid $4.2 million in premiums in 2017 alone, according to the city.

A 25 percent discount will save $1.06 million next year, and the savings will grow as rates increase, the city said.

Rutala Associates, the city’s planning consultant, led the reclassification efforts, the city said.

Cape May County grants fund Avalon park, bike path: The Borough of Avalon will use almost $2.07 million in grants from the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders for a new park and expansion of its bike path.

About $2 million will be used to create a new Surfside Park at the Boardwalk at 30th Street and the beach. It will replace an old playground and skateboard park with new playground equipment, a gazebo, a play lawn and a small performance stage. It will also include new bathrooms, rinsing stations and a changing station. Water will be reused for irrigation, and bicycle racks will be added.

The $70,000 expansion of the bicycle path, currently on Dune Drive outside of the business district, will use parts of First and Avalon avenues, with more signage and street markings added for public safety.

Pheasant season underway: The 2017 pheasant season is underway and thousands of birds are being distributed throughout the state, DEP said.

The birds are distributed by a formula that includes proximity of stocked wildlife management areas to stamp buyers’ home zip codes. More information on the formula can be found at njfishandwildlife.com/ artpheasallocation16.htm.

The northern region receives 41 percent of the pheasants stocked as part of the Pheasant Stocking Program, compared with 27 percent for the central region and 32 percent for the south.

Pheasant stocking maps can be found at njfishandwildlife.com/pheasmaps.htm.

DEP asks for help tracking exotic tick species

The NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife is asking deer hunters in Hunterdon County for help locating an exotic East Asian tick species known as the longhorned tick or bush tick that was recently found on a farm there.

The initial identification was done by Rutgers University and the Hunterdon County health department. This tick is not known to occur in the U.S., although there are records of at least a dozen previous collections of this species on animals and materials presented for entry at U.S. ports.

This tick is a serious pest to livestock, as well as wildlife, pets and humans, so DEP is doing targeted surveillance on deer that are harvested around the area where the tick was found. For questions on the division’s surveillance and deer check, call Carole Stanko at 609-984-6295.

Eagle rehabbed in N.Y. doing well in N.J.

In October, NJ Eagle Project volunteer Randy Lubischer spotted a banded adult bald eagle near his home in Monmouth County, according to Conserve Wildlife Foundation wildlife biologist Larissa Smith.

A New York state band on the bird held a number W34. The New York Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources said it found the eagle as a hatch-year bird on the side of the road in Onondaga County with tissue damage and worms. The division rehabilitated the bird and banded it Oct. 7, 2011.

It was observed in Darlington, Maryland, on Nov. 18, 2016, then in northeastern Maryland on March 1.

Now, W34 looks to be staying in New Jersey to nest as he has found a mate, a sub-adult female, who still has dark feathers on her head. They have started to build a nest and have been copulating.

It’s possible W34 fledged in New Jersey, since recent N.J. fledges outfitted with transmitters have taken long flights north after leaving their nest areas, said Smith.

CWF also said many New Jersey banded eagles return to the state to nest. For more, visit conservewildlifenj.org/blog/2017/11/20/w34-a-ny-banded-eagle-in-nj.

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Contact: 609-272-7219 mpost@pressofac.com Twitter @MichelleBPost Facebook.com/EnvironmentSouthJersey

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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