Representatives from the American Littoral Society stood beside NJ Congressman Frank Pallone on Thursday, Aug. 22, to voice strong support for the Living Shorelines Act of 2019.
During a press conference in Keyport, NJ's Cedar Street Park Beach, which is the site of a living shoreline project, the Society joined other environmental organizations and representatives for coastal communities in asking that US Congress pass the bill, which is critical to help protect our nation’s coasts and estuaries, as well as coastal communities and the economies they support.
H.R. 3115 would provide $50 million in federal funds that would be matched by state and local governments, as well as the NGOs applying for grants and projects. Priority consideration would be given to projects in areas where a federal disaster has been declared in the past 10 years or that have a history of flooding, which includes New Jersey’s coastal towns.
The bill also provides for project monitoring to measure and help determine best practices for future living shoreline projects. It would be administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to assist states, localities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in constructing living shorelines.
Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) will introduce the companion bill in the Senate.
“Our country is facing a climate crisis, and while we work to secure our environment for future generations we must also take steps to mitigate against sea level rise and prepare for the extreme weather that has become increasingly common,” said Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA). “We need to make smart investments in our coastal communities, and creating living shorelines is a proven method of protecting our precious coasts.”
“Connecticut’s economy depends on a vibrant, healthy Long Island Sound, and we have to be smart if we’re going to manage the effects of climate change on our coast. I’m proud to join Senator Harris and Congressman Pallone in reintroducing the Living Shorelines Act. Our legislation will send money to towns along the Sound that are working on environmentally friendly projects to fortify against future storms and rising sea levels,” said Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).
“We are living in a world of a changing climate. Mr. Pallone’s Living Shorelines legislation will provide support for developing new approaches to protecting our coast that are based in nature,” said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the Littoral Society. “Pallone’s bill will empower communities to find ways to live with the water, restoring natural shorelines and habitats while protecting property and communities. We applaud Mr. Pallone for his continued leadership in protecting our coast and ocean, and appreciate the continual development of creative, workable and sound programs that come from his office.”
Healthy estuaries are the first line of defense for coastal areas, providing protection from climate change impacts such as sea-level rise, increased storm frequency and intensity, and excessive algal blooms. In particular, how we manage the vulnerable shorelines of estuaries will determine the fate of entire coastlines.
Traditional fixed-in-place bulkheads and similar “hard” infrastructure that are used to control shoreline erosion and protect property can actually make erosion worse, placing ecosystems and property at increased risk. They also come at a high cost to build and maintain.
Living shorelines -- which use nature and nature-based approaches, such as restored oyster reefs, replanted salt marshes, sand dunes, maritime forests, and re-vegetated shoreline edges -- hold the answer to the challenges of climate adaptation and controlling coastal erosion.
The American Littoral Society has successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of these approaches in communities throughout coastal New Jersey. Our colleagues at Restore America’s Estuaries have shown these techniques have been successful throughout the country. As importantly, they are cost effective and engage local communities and the public in coastal stewardship.
With the prioritization of disaster areas, The Living Shorelines Act of 2019 ensures that funds will go to communities that are already facing the immediate and current effects of climate change.
Congressman Pallone’s bill is yet another example of his leadership as one of our country’s foremost coastal champions. It will provide needed funds to empower local partnerships to continue to implement and demonstrate the value of living shorelines and help to make them the “go to” response in many coastal erosion problem areas.
In addition to the American Littoral Society, the legislation has the support of the National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, Restore America’s Estuaries, American Society for Landscape Architects, the Jersey Shore Partnership, Earthjustice, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Blue Frontier Campaign, the Middlebury Institute’s Center for the Blue Economy, and the NY/NJ Baykeeper.
"We must care for and protect our coasts as if our lives depend on it – because they do," said Hillary Critelli, Development Director for the Littoral Society, at Thursday's event. "Congressman Pallone has provided us with a needed, powerful tool to do just that. We thank him for his efforts and urge Congress to swiftly pass this legislation."