CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION LAUNCHES NEW ONLINE TOOL TO HELP BOATERS PROTECT ECOLOGICALLY SENSITIVE BARNEGAT BAY
(13/P60) TRENTON –In time for the summer boating and tourism season, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched a new online tool to help boaters protect ecologically sensitive areas in the Barnegat Bay watershed, as well as locate points of interest and available services, such as waste pump-out stations.
“The DEP developed this online tool, which can be accessed on mobile devices and computers, as part of Governor Christie’s 10-point plan to restore and protect Barnegat Bay,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “We hope that it becomes an invaluable resource as boaters come back to the Bay during this first boating season since Superstorm Sandy.”
A key part of Governor Christie’s 10-point bay restoration plan calls for reducing impacts of boats and personal watercraft on Barnegat Bay’s sensitive ecosystems, including wetlands, aquatic vegetation, shellfish beds and fish habitats.
By going to www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/plan-watercraft.htm, boaters can access an interactive map that provides a birds-eye view of sensitive areas in the watershed.
Users can zoom into specific areas and find detailed maps showing ecologically sensitive areas. By moving their cursor over the maps, users can also find helpful services such as marinas, sewage pump-out facilities, bait-and-tackle shops, launches and ramps, restrooms, and places to dispose trash. The site also provides links to helpful information such as tips on green boating practices and the New Jersey Clean Marina program.
The tool can be used on mobile phones, laptops, tablets and personal computers. A downloadable app for mobile phones is currently not available.
Following the launch of the Christie Administration’s 10-point plan in December 2010, the DEP met with a wide range of stakeholders, including recreational boaters, boating associations, manufacturers, marina owners, municipal leaders, scientists, and others to identify strategies and actions that would reduce the impacts of improper boating and personal water craft use on Bay ecology.
The resulting strategy became the identification of 16 ecologically sensitive areas in Barnegat Bay. Ecologically sensitive areas are shallow areas where submerged aquatic vegetation and wildlife are found. These places provide shelter and feeding grounds for fish, crabs, birds and other animals.
Barnegat Bay has been the focus of very successful DEP-led watershed-wide cleanup efforts, called the Barnegat Bay Blitz, key to the 10-point plan’s goal of enhancing public stewardship. The most recent blitz on May 10 had a post-Sandy cleanup and restoration focus. More than 5,500 volunteers took part, collecting more than 1,000 bags of trash, filling 31 dumpsters and 21 trucks, pulling nearly 200 tires, and collecting nearly 450 bags of recyclables.
For more information on the 10-point plan, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/barnegatbay/