THOUSANDS OF VOLUNTEERS TAKING PART IN THIRD BARNEGAT BAY BLITZ;
CLEANUP EFFORT ADVANCES GOVERNOR’S RESTORATION PLAN
(12/P122) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today joined thousands of local volunteers and DEP staff who fanned out across Barnegat Bay’s watershed today to pick up litter and debris in the third installment of the Barnegat Bay Blitz.
“Once again, the enthusiasm out here is infectious,” said Commissioner Martin, who is participating in cleanups in Toms River, Point Pleasant and Island Beach State Park’s Sedge Island. “These volunteers, many of them students, truly care about the future of Barnegat Bay and are willing to do something about it. I commend each one of them for setting an example for everyone who lives and works in the bay’s watershed to follow.”
Students from dozens of schools in the region participated in the event, as did volunteers from local governments, environmental commissions, businesses, community groups, and environmentalists. They are removing trash and debris from marshes, shorelines, school grounds, parks, areas around docks and bulkheads, woods, fields, and the bay itself. The trash will be disposed of properly or recycled.
Much of the trash collected today could otherwise ultimately enter the bay through the discharge of stormwater. Stormwater carries pollutants such as common lawn fertilizers, automotive fluids and silt that degrade wildlife habitat and water quality in Barnegat Bay and its tributaries.
The Barnegat Bay Blitz is critical to Governor Chris Christie’s 10-point comprehensive plan to restore the ecological health of Barnegat Bay by raising public awareness about the bay’s problems and the steps needed to address them.
Volunteers are coming from all 37 municipalities in the 660-square-mile watershed, which encompasses 33 municipalities in Ocean County and four in Monmouth County. The bay is suffering from degraded water quality caused by many factors, including excessive algae growth caused by nutrients from fertilizers and other sources.
DEP partners in the cleanup include the New Jersey Clean Communities Council, MATES Academy at the Ocean County Vocational School, the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Waste Management, the Barnegat Bay Partnership, ReClam the Bay, United Water, ShopRite, Wawa, Rowbear Consulting Co., and the American Council of Engineering Companies.
As part of the morning events, Commissioner joined students from the Ethel Jacobsen Elementary School in Surf City and local officials to work on trash removal from the bay shoreline. The school has developed a full educational program around the Blitz that promotes bay stewardship and teaches students about the bay’s natural resources and ecological challenges through follow-up classroom work and a newsletter the students produce.
He later joined students from the Memorial Middle School for a cleanup of trails at Beaver Dam Park in Point Pleasant. “We try to instill leadership, service and a sense of citizenship in all of our students,” said teacher Ellen Keelan. “All of our students live in shore towns and spend their summers swimming in the bay. Some of the students participated in the May Blitz and knew today’s event would be held, rain or shine. It’s just a bonus that the weather is nice today.”
This afternoon, Commissioner Martin will join students from the MATES Academy to tour and clean up Sedge Island, an ecologically sensitive area at the southern end of Island Beach State Park. The day-long Blitz began with an opening ceremony at the DEP’s Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson.
“When you get an opportunity to do help clean up something as important as Barnegat Bay, it's a great thing. But it's not only about going out and picking up trash. It's about having an overall vision on how we can clean the surface body waters of the state,” said Deputy Commissioner Irene Kropp. “With Barnegat Bay, there is a lot of science and sampling going on designed to improve the bay's health. The goal is to make our restoration of Barnegat Bay as a model to improve the other surface body waters of the state."
Other efforts undertaken by the Christie Administration as a result of the Governor’s 10-point Barnegat Bay restoration plan include the safe closure of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant by 2019, enhanced state funding for local governments for projects to better control stormwater pollution, a tough statewide fertilizer law that benefits the bay by reducing nutrients in stormwater runoff, a detailed scientific study of water issues in the bay, and a first-ever Barnegat Bay-wide water quality monitoring network.
For more information about the Barnegat Bay Blitz, visit:
For information on the Governor’s Comprehensive Restoration Plan, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/