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December 18, 1998

For more information contact:
Fred Snyder at 609-292-9481

The Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife recently received $740,750 in funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. The money will be used toward the purchase of land along the Barnegat Bay waterfront near Stouts and Oyster creeks in Lacy Township, Ocean County.

The 625-acre area is comprised of 561 acres of wetlands and 64 acres of upland. The project will be a joint effort between the Division and the DEP's Green Acres Program and Trust for Public Land.

More than $9 million in wetlands conservation grants have been awarded to 18 projects throughout the nation. In addition to New Jersey, Alabama, California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington were awarded grants.

The projects, supplemented by more than $10 million in state funds and more than $2 million in monies from other partners, will benefit a host of wetlands-related species such as waterfowl, shorebirds, fish, sea grasses and sea turtles. The projects will also benefit humans by conserving and enhancing wetlands that act as natural water filters.

Since 1990, when Congress passed the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act establishing the grant program, the USFWS has awarded more than $52 million in grants to 24 coastal states and one U.S. Territory for the conservation of more than 87,000 acres of vital coastal wetlands.

Under the program, the USFWS makes annual matching grants to coastal states and U.S. territories for projects involving the acquisition, restoration or enhancement of coastal wetlands, which must be administered for long-term conservation benefits.

Grants are awarded through a competitive process. Funding for the program is generated through excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat and small engine fuels. These taxes are deposited in the Sport Fish Restoration Account of the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund (commonly called Wallop-Breaux after its Congressional sponsors).