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news release

P.O. Box 600
Trenton, NJ
Contact: Tim Greeley or Joe Fiordaliso
609-530-4280

RELEASE: April 21, 2004


NJDOT Awards $409,000 to Audubon Society
Funding will go towards promotion of ecotourism, wildlife preservation and economic development in Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem Counties

(Goshen) - Today, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Jack Lettiere presented a check for $409,000 to the New Jersey Audubon Society at the Audubon Society Center for Research and Education in Goshen. Lettiere was joined by representatives of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection ( NJDEP) and the New Jersey Office of Travel and Tourism, who partnered with the Audubon Society in applying for the funding through the NJDOT's Ecotourism Grant Program.

The Audubon Society will use the dollars to develop the Delaware Bayshore Birding and Wildlife Trail, which will connect important sites for viewing birds and other wildlife via existing roads and other transportation networks such as bike paths and mass transit.   The purpose is to enhance ecotourism and economic development opportunities in the Delaware Bayshore area of Cumberland, Cape May, and Salem counties, while highlighting the importance of the transportation corridors developed by NJDOT in affording the public these viewing opportunities.

"We're proud of our efforts to advance environmentally sound quality of life initiatives through transportation projects. This project is entirely consistent our other smart growth transportation efforts and will advance our goals. This project is a marvelous effort and partnership, and I would like to commend the Audubon Society, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of Travel and Tourism for their work," said Lettiere.

The Audubon Society will work with NJDEP, Travel and Tourism and NJDOT to ensure the Delaware Bayshore Birding and Wildlife Trail project is rich in products that will benefit all of the major partners in the initiative. These products will include a guide to the Delaware Bayshore Birding and Wildlife Trail, an ecotourism guide to the businesses for each county (based on the Audubon's existing "Places to Eat, Shop, Stay and Play" publication), a Web-based version of both guides, GIS coverage of the sites and the routes, a database of stakeholder names and contact information, and recommendations for signage and future improvements to specific sites.

"The success of a project of this size and value can only be accomplished by this kind of private public partnership. It will not just rely on a sound transportation system, it will capitalize on New Jersey's diverse wildlife," said Eric Stiles, Vice President of Conservation for the New Jersey Audubon Society.

The central idea behind the grant is to bring together New Jersey's outstanding wildlife tourism locations by creating a cohesive birding and wildlife trail guide to increase ecotourism and strengthen the tie-in between the transportation network and wildlife viewing.   The Delaware Bayshore Birding and Wildlife Trail will synthesize existing New Jersey wildlife resources such as the Cape May Bird Observatory, Cumberland County's Raptor Festival, and Salem County's natural diversity with newly identified sites, into a single package that is more accessible to the general wildlife watching public. It will create a holistic approach, which can be marketed at the local, regional, state and national level. An ecotourism guide to businesses for each of the three counties connecting visitors with the local places of business will also be created.

"New Jersey offers some of the world's best watchable wildlife. This

collaborative project will provide new opportunities to showcase our rich variety of wildlife and give residents and visitors greater access to these natural treasures while boosting the economic benefits that ecotourism brings to our state," noted NJDEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell.

"From renowned bird watching havens to unique nature trails, New Jersey

offers visitors and residents some of the finest ecotourism opportunities in the nation," said Nancy Byrne, executive director of the New Jersey Office of Travel & Tourism. "This project is vital to preserving and promoting these vast ecological treasures and we are delighted to be a partner in this effort."

The Delaware Bayshore (Cumberland, Cape May and Salem counties) was the first region chosen for the creation of a Birding and Wildlife Trail for several key reasons. First, it allows for expansion of the existing name recognition of Cape May. The multitude of existing wildlife watchers that frequent Cape May sites will be directed to little-known gems to the northwest.  

 

Second, the Audubon Society will build upon Cumberland County's terrific ecotourism efforts. The county has been at the forefront of promoting bird and wildlife watching through its development of the annual Raptor Festival in February and the Purple Martin Festival in August.  

Third, there are many visitors from states to the west who pass through Salem County on their way to and from Cape May. Salem County is one of the state's most rural areas, and New Jersey Audubon has long promoted its natural diversity through birding weekends and this project will further highlight the treasures in Salem County. Finally, the quality of existing roads in these three counties makes this region easy to navigate and explore.

 
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  Department of Transportation
  P.O. Box 600
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  Last Updated:  December 28, 2012