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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Tidelands

  • Overview
  • Grants
  • Licenses
  • Statements of No Interest
  • Leases
  • Tidelands Resource Council

Tidelands, also known as riparian lands, are all lands that are currently and formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway.  Barnegat Bay, a naturally tidal body of water, is an example of tidelands.  However, New Creek, a tiny tidal stream that flowed through the city of Newark a century ago but has since been filled in and built over, is also an example of tidelands.  New Jersey contains an extensive network of tidelands, both big and small.

The State of New Jersey claims ownership of these tidelands and holds them in trust for the people of the state.  All tidelands are overseen by the Tidelands Resource Council, a board of twelve Governor-appointed volunteers, along with DEP staff at the Bureau of Tidelands Management.

Since tidelands are public lands, you must obtain written permission from the state and pay a fee in order to use these lands.  Common uses of tidelands include docks, mooring piles, bulkheads and other fill materials.  Some tidelands may be sold in the form of a Riparian Grant while others may only be rented through either a Tidelands License or Lease.

All money collected from the sale and rental of tidelands is deposited into a trust fund for state education and is also used as a guaranty against the bonds that are sold by local school boards.

The Bureau of Tidelands Management has initiated online services as an alternative to certain paper submissions in order to improve customer’s convenience.  For more information on current and planned e-Services, please click here.    

Note: For Hurricane Sandy related questions, please click here.  If you have questions not answered by this question and answer document, please contact the Technical Support Center at (609) 777-0454, ext 4.

A Riparian Grant is a deed from the State of New Jersey for the sale of its formerly flowed tidelands.  Obtaining a riparian grant is appropriate if any portion of the upland of a property was, at one time, flowed by the mean high tide.  That portion of the property that was formerly tidal is state-owned property despite the fact that it has been filled in and the former waterway is no longer evident.  The state-owned section of the property is known as a Tidelands Claim; a Tidelands Claim is a cloud on a property owner's title regardless of whether or not that property owner is aware of the claim at the time of purchase.

Obtaining a riparian grant is not mandatory; however, a grant may be desired to clear title to a property encumbered with a Tidelands Claim.

Current policy is to issue grants only for filled tidelands.  That is, the State of New Jersey no longer sells currently flowed tidelands. 

To view the instructions and application form for applying for a Riparian Grant, please click here.

Licenses

  • Overview
  • Structures
  • Marinas
  • Yacht/Boat Club
  • Dredging
  • Utilities
  • Bridges
  • Aquaculture

A Tidelands License is a short term rental agreement from the State of New Jersey for the use of its currently flowed tidelands.

Licenses must be procured for the following uses:

  • Fixed structures (i.e. docks, piers, mooring piles, floating docks, boat lifts, riprap, etc) constructed on currently flowed tidelands
  • Bulkhead extensions that exceed or will exceed the mean high water line (As formerly flowed tidelands, bulkhead extensions may be purchased from the State if desired; however, they must be rented via a valid License until a Riparian Grant is delivered.)
  • Marina slips (defined as five or more rented boat slips)
  • Yacht and Boat Club structures
  • Dredging within state-owned tidal water
  • Utilities or Utility-related structures (i.e. pipes, cable lines) that cross over or under state-owned tidelands
  • Bridge construction/maintenance over state-owned tidelands

To view the instructions/applicaton for applying for a License, please click here.

The Tidelands License Renewal Service allows people with an applicable Tidelands Licenses to submit an on-line renewal application. This service aims to improve customer’s convenience by reducing the amount effort required to submit a renewal application and reducing the amount of time it requires to receive a response upon submission of a renewal application.  For more information on this and other Tidelands e-Services, click here.

Fixed Structures

Jet Ski FloatFixed structures include docks, piers, mooring piles, floating docks, boat lifts, riprap and other structures that occupy currently flowed tidelands for more than ten consecutive days.

This includes jet ski floats, pictured here. 

Moving crafts such as rafts and boats are not considered fixed structures. 

Bulkhead extensions include any new solid material beyond the mean high water line that precludes the tide from flowing beneath it.

To view the instructions/applicaton for applying for a License, please click here.

Marinas

For Tidelands purposes, a marina is defined as a collection of docks, piers, mooring piles or similar structures that together provide permanent or semi-permanent dockage available for rent  to five or more vessels.  Less than five slips would require a license for fixed structures.

A property that qualifies for a Marina License may also require an additional License for fixed structures if there is a bulkhead extension or other structures in the water that are separate from the rental slips.

To view the instructions/applicaton for applying for a License, please click here.

Yacht/Boat Clubs

Yacht and Boat Clubs are defined as private, non-commercial marinas with slips available only to club members.

To view the instructions/applicaton for applying for a License, please click here.

Dredging

Dredging projects that involve the permanent removal of sediment from the bottom of a tidally flowed waterway require a license.  A License is not required if the sediment is replaced in kind.

To view the instructions/applicaton for applying for a License, please click here.

Utilities

Utility and utility-related Licenses are for such structures as pipes, cable lines, storm water outfalls, etc. that cross over or under state-owned tidelands.

To view the instructions/applicaton for applying for a License, please click here.

Bridges

Only certain bridge construction/maintenance projects occurring over State-owned tidelands require Tidelands licenses. For information on the license applicability for a specific bridge project, please contact the Bureau of Tidelands Management.

To view the instructions/applicaton for applying for a License, please click here.

Except for Individual shellfish markers (i.e. a single stick in the water), aquaculture activities occupying water column require a tidelands license if the activities are taking place in a non-granted area that is at or below the mean high water line of a tidal waterway.  A license may also required when agricultural activities are taking place in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point, flowed by the tide. 

Aquaculture activities are unique in that they take up large areas of land (water) that would otherwise be open waters of the State. In addition, they could be, but are not always, in open water without waterfront access. However, in some cases, like the rack and bag systems, acres of water could be occupied, thereby restricting boat traffic in the area. 

The Tidelands Resource Council (TRC) has acknowledged the unique nature of aquaculture operations and has developed a policy that allows for these activities to be licensed in a manner that fosters aquaculture opportunities in New Jersey waters while fulfilling the Council’s obligation to collect equitable compensation for the utilization of State owned lands.  Please click here to view the TRC’s policy on Aquaculture Activities.

For information and instruction on how to determine whether you are in an area that may require either a license or a grant, or for information how to apply for Tideland instruments please see the tidelands section of this website.

 

A Statement of No Interest is an official document issued by the State of New Jersey attesting to the fact that a particular property or area is free from all state tidelands claims.  These documents are only issued when an applicant can prove beyond all doubt that the State of New Jersey has no tidelands claim to that particular parcel.  The burden of proof lies with the applicant.

Statement of No Interest applications will only be considered in the following circumstances:

  1. The state's claim is in close proximity to the subject property.
  2. The subject property is affected by a Tidelands Claim according to the adopted Tidelands map, but the applicant questions the validity of that claim.
  3. The subject property has an undefended shoreline that has been augmented by natural accretion.

Statement of No Interest applications will not be considered in these circumstances:

  1. The state's claim is not in close proximity to the subject property.
  2. The subject property is affected by a Tidelands Claim according to the adopted Tidelands map, but the claim has been eradicated by an existing valid conveyance such as a riparian grant.  If the validity of the existing conveyance is in doubt, please submit a grant application.

To view the instructions/application for applying for a Statement of No Interest, please click here.

House over WaterA Tidelands Lease is a long term rental agreement from the State of New Jersey for the use of currently flowed tidelands.  Leases are only issued for projects that involve long term financing issues such as homes that have been constructed over water or large scale development projects.  Smaller construction projects over currently flowed tidelands require a Tidelands License rather than a Lease.

Leases must be obtained for all proposed construction as well as any past construction regardless of whether or not the current property owner is responsible for that construction.  The state does not grandfather homes over water with respect to Tidelands conveyances.

A home over water, pictured here, is an example of a property that would require a lease.

To view the Lease instructions/application forms, please click here.

The management of tidelands in New Jersey is overseen by the Tidelands Resource Council, a board of twelve Governor-appointed volunteers, along with DEP staff at the Bureau of Tidelands Management.  The Tidelands Resource Council, however, makes all ultimate decisions with regards to tidelands.

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Last Updated: May 21, 2014