CAPE MAY — Calling him a conservation champion during his 24 years in Congress, environmental groups honored retiring U.S. Representative Frank LoBiondo on Monday at The Nature Conservancy’s South Cape May Meadows Preserve.
The property is one the legislator helped preserve by securing federal funding to enhance the beach there and restore wetlands. The groups thanked the congressman by putting up a plaque there on a trail leading to the ocean, said Tom Wells, the Conservancy’s Director of Government Relations, after the ceremony.
“We felt his time in Congress should be noted,” Wells said.
Also speaking were Pete Dunne of New Jersey Audubon, Barbara Brummer of the Conservancy, Ed Potosnak of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, Fred Akers of the Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association, and Greg Romano of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
They shared stories about the congressman, such as the time he secured Coast Guard property for the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, an oceanfront property north of Cape May that was being sold and could have been developed.
Wells also said LoBiondo led efforts to enhance the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provided capital to buy land for that same refuge.
“His tireless work defending other important federal conservation programs like the National Estuary Program was critical for the environmental health of Delaware Bay,” he said.
LoBiondo recognized that climate change induced sea level rise and increasingly intense coastal storms threaten his constituents, Wells said.
“He has for many years been a leader in his party in support of federal action to curb carbon emissions,” said Wells, and in support of adapting to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
The Conservancy is a 501c3 charity and is not allowed to endorse candidates or engage in electioneering, Wells said.
“But I certainly hope the next person who fills that role will have some of the same qualities Congressman LoBiondo had,” Wells said.