Dec. 10, 2018 [TRENTON, NJ] - The American Littoral Society is honored to be a recipient of two New Jersey Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards.
Eleven organizations and individuals were recognized on Monday at the 19th Annual Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards for work in various areas of environmental stewardship, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced.
This marks the first time since the inception of the GEEA in 2000 that a single organization has received two in one year. The Littoral Society also previously received GEEA's in 2011 and 2015, for the "Bayscape for Barnegat Bay" Healthy Ecosystem project and work restoring coastal habitat on the Delaware Bayshore, respectively.
"This year's winners exemplify New Jersey's strong commitment to protecting the environment and following practices that will help us fight climate change and sea-level rise, while also improving flooding resiliency around the state," Commissioner McCabe said. "Their fine work is an example to us all, and I congratulate the winners for their outstanding achievements."
First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy spoke at the event and distributed awards with Commissioner McCabe.
The DEP received 50 applications for this year's awards. A panel of judges reviewed and scored the nominations. To learn more about the program, visit www.nj.gov/dep/eeawards/.
"I am very pleased and proud that the excellent work of the Society and our partners is being recognized in such an important way," said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society. "Our work is not only restoring important environmental resources and places but pioneering how we can do that statewide. In an age of changing climate, we need new approaches and partnerships like these that are proven to work."
The Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards Program is New Jersey's premier awards program for recognizing outstanding environmental performance, programs and projects throughout the state. These awards recognize individuals, businesses, institutions, communities, organizations, educators, youth and others who have made significant contributions to environmental protection in New Jersey.
The awards program is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank and the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology, in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.
The Littoral Society is being recognized for a project to restore the inlet to Wreck Pond in Spring Lake, NJ and the "Clean Water, Beautiful Bay" project, which involved a series of initiatives designed to reduce pollution going into Barnegat Bay via stormwater runoff. Click here for more information on the Wreck Pond project.
The $7.4 million restoration of Wreck Pond, which was administered by the Society, began in July 2015 as a collaborative effort to solve problems that have plagued the pond and surrounding communities for decades. A 600-foot-long fish passage served as the cornerstone of the project, as it would not only improve water flow between the ocean and badly polluted 73-acre coastal lake, but also decrease localized flooding, and bring life back to the Wreck Pond watershed.
Work on the fish passage was completed late in 2016 and the Society has spent the last two years monitoring both water quality and wildlife in the pond. As part of that effort, the Society trained citizen scientists who will help gather information on the project for the next few years.
With the help of those citizen scientists and other partners, the Society found a marked resurgence of migratory fish spawning in Wreck Pond, which would indicate that the project can be a model for other similar waterbodies along the eastern seaboard.
"We're honored to be recognized for a project that is a model for how we can effectively and efficiently plan, fund, and implement a restoration project that helps people and the environment," said Capt. Al Modjeski, Restoration Director for the Littoral Society. "We're also pleased that it brought together a wide array of federal, state and local partners, to work together toward common goals that will benefit community residents and coastal resiliency."
Project partners included the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Monmouth County, the Boroughs of Spring Lake and Sea Girt, Simpson and Brown Inc., Leon S. Avakian LLC, Najarian Inc., and Monmouth University.
The "Clean Water, Beautiful Bay" project involved seven sites and initiatives within two highly developed sub-watersheds of the Barnegat Bay (Long Swamp Creek and Lower Toms River). The work involved several green infrastructure installations, designed to reduce non-point source pollution, and a bay-friendly land management program that involved designing and implementing environmentally-friendly practices for golf courses. Click here to learn more about our Barnegat Bay work.
"Our "Clean Water, Beautiful Bay" projects have demonstrated that green infrastructure improvement techniques not only reduce flooding and pollution problems at businesses, schools, and public recreation locations, but also that such projects can help protect and restore our beloved Barnegat Bay," said Helen Henderson, Mid-Atlantic Ocean Program Manager for the American Littoral Society. "The willingness and participation by the variety of public and private partners is a testament to their desire for a clean and healthy Barnegat Bay. The work also lends support to future local, county, or state efforts to fund these types of improvements on watershed-wide scales."
Funding for this project was provided by a Watershed Restoration 319(h) Grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Project partners include Princeton Hydro LLC, Ocean County Soil Conservation District, Ocean County Department of Planning, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, Toms River Board of Education, Community Medical Center, and Laurel Commons Homeowner Association, and Bey Lea Golf Course.