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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 23, 2004

Contact: Erin Phalon
(609) 984-1795

DEP ANNOUNCES ADDITION TO CHEESEQUAKE STATE PARK

Monmouth County Acquisition Will Safeguard Coastal Resources

(04/136) TRENTON - Emphasizing the importance of preserving New Jersey's coastal resources, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the preservation of a nine-acre parcel on Whale Creek in Aberdeen, Monmouth County. DEP and the NY/NJ Baykeeper will jointly manage the property as part of Cheesequake State Park.

"This coastal acquisition highlights the diversity of New Jersey's natural resource protection efforts," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "From the mountains to the shore to our urban parks, the Green Acres Program protects recreational lands and preserves ecological habitats for future generations."

"The protection of this parcel on Whale Creek reflects New Jersey's commitment to protecting natural resources in our coastal region," said Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Preserving habitat and water resources is among our highest priorities. I greatly appreciate the work of Senator Lautenberg, Congressman Pallone and the NY/NJ Baykeeper in making this acquisition possible."

The preservation of this property will protect coastal resources and the water quality of Whale Creek, which discharges into the Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays. The NY/NJ Baykeeper identified parcels surrounding the creek in need of permanent protection as high priority acquisitions.

"This acquisition is a perfect example of strong leadership on the part of local, state, and federal officials who worked together and took action to protect natural land that is valued both as regionally significant habitat and local open space," said NY/NJ Baykeeper Preservation Director Greg Remaud.

The Whale Creek property, which will be open to the public for passive recreation, is comprised of wetland and woodland areas that provide habitat to a variety of species. The parcel serves as a foraging ground for shorebirds and waterbirds, nesting and foraging habitat for terrapins and a migratory and wintering stopover habitat for songbirds and raptors.

"The purchase of this property through the DEP Green Acres Program prevented the development of twenty new homes in Aberdeen," said Aberdeen Mayor David G. Sobel. "This acquisition provides an example of government taking decisive action to protect New Jersey's water resources."

The DEP Green Acres Program purchased the $1.1 million Whale Creek property through a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The DEP Green Acres program contributed $613,000 and U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg and U.S. Representative Frank Pallone provided a $487,000 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Federal Assistance Award to the DEP Coastal Management Program. The NY/NJ Baykeeper helped secure federal funding for the project. Lautenberg and Pallone in 2003 provided funding for the acquisition of a 67-acre addition to Cheesequake State Park on Cheesequake Creek in Old Bridge Township, Middlesex County.

"By preserving these nine acres as part of the Cheesequake State Park, we're placing a priority on protecting our precious water resources in Central Jersey," Congressman Pallone said. "I'll continue to work with Senator Lautenberg, the DEP and the NY/NJ Baykeeper to protect open spaces throughout our state."

"This nine-acre treasure is home to many species of birds, fish and turtles," said Senator Lautenberg. "Its permanent preservation will also help protect area water quality. I am very pleased that the money I fought for in Congress will be used to acquire this high priority parcel."

The DEP Green Acres Program purchases land to protect environmentally sensitive open space, water resources and other significant natural and historical open space. Land acquired becomes part of the statewide system of parks and forest, wildlife management areas and natural areas.

Since January 2002, the Green Acres Program has acquired 68,952 acres of open space-45,873 acres for state projects, 11,797 acres for local projects and 11,282 acres for nonprofit groups. To date, the Green Acres Program has protected more than 551,358 acres of open space and provided funding to develop hundreds of parks statewide. The statewide system of preserved open space and farmland totals more than 1.27 million acres.

 

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