TRENTON — As the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches Oct. 29, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is starting a yearlong planning process to make coastal areas more resilient to storms and sea-level rise.
Called the Coastal Resilience Plan, it will collect input from coastal residents, officials and others; as well as advice from coastal scientists and environmental leaders, said DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe this week.
Not everyone was happy with the state focusing on a plan rather than immediate action.
“While the agency plans, the state floods,” said New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel. “Storms are getting worse but there doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency.”
He said the state should immediately change regulations put in place by Gov. Chris Christie that made it easier to build in some of the most flood-prone coastal areas.
“They need to get rid of weakened versions of important water rules like the Flood Hazard Rules, Water Quality Management and Planning Rules, CAFRA, Wetlands, and Stormwater Management Rules,” Tittel said.
But McCabe said it’s important to put together a cohesive, integrated plan. She called coastal New Jersey an ecological and economic treasure.
She announced $200,000 grants for regional teams to address the issues, including one in Atlantic County and one in Ocean County.
Patcong Creek Foundation holds event in new center
The Patcong Creek Foundation will hold its first public event in its new Seashore Science Center, which is the former Somers Point Youth Center in Lawrence “Bud” Kern Park.
On Oct. 30, retired New Jersey Fish & Wildlife Biologist Tom Baum will speak about marine wildlife of the Great Egg Harbor estuary at the foundation’s Community Night.
The foundation hosts Community Nights to provide education about the natural world in and around Patcong Creek.
The nonprofit group recently leased the building from the city.
The foundation is also looking for volunteers to help with its annual clean up of the Tuckahoe-Corbin City Wildlife Management Area off of Route 50 in Corbin City the morning of Oct. 28.
The group cleans along the impoundment road, where there is very little traffic, so it is good for kids. Gloves, pickers, and trash bags will be provided.
To learn more about the Patcong Creek Foundation or become a member of the organization, visit PatcongCreekFoundation.org.
Barnegay Bay shellfish beds closed
The state Department of Environmental Protection has suspended shellfish harvesting from an area of the Barnegat Bay off of Berkeley Township after a leak in a central outfall pipe released secondary treated wastewater.
DEP said the state is protecting public health, as the pollution released may affect safety of the shellfish.
Berkeley Township is between Lacey Township and Toms River in Ocean County.
The harvest will be suspended until water tests show the water quality is back in acceptable levels, said Assistant Commissioner Michele M. Putnam in a suspension letter on Friday.
Find exact locations here.
County Living Fair at Batsto on Sunday
The annual Country Living Fair will be Sunday at historic Batsto Village in Burlington County.
The fair, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., gives visitors a chance to experience country living through crafts, exhibits, music, food, antiques, pony rides, farm equipment, chainsaw art, quilting and more.
Part of Wharton State Forest, Batsto Village is off Route 542 in Washington Township, about eight miles east of Hammonton.