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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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news releases

November 22, 2005

Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994


(05/128) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today dedicated a natural area in Liberty State Park to honor Richard J. Sullivan, New Jersey's first environmental protection commissioner.

"Richard Sullivan began his career at the start of our nation's environmental movement. He spearheaded environmental protections that enabled New Jersey to become a national leader in coastal protection, land preservation, and pollution control," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "He is one of New Jersey's most respected conservationists, a gifted writer and speaker who epitomizes the very best in public service."

The Richard J. Sullivan Natural Area in Liberty State Park consists mainly of a 36-acre salt marsh in the heart of the New York Bay supporting the Hudson River estuary. During his tenure, Commissioner Sullivan helped establish Liberty State Park, including the natural area that now bears his name. Designated as a natural area in 1978, it is enjoyed by many of the more than five million visitors to the park annually.

"With great appreciation and pride, we are celebrating the legacy of a true statesman in environmental protection who devoted his entire career to making New Jersey a cleaner, healthier place to live, work and raise our families," Campbell said. "It is a privilege to give back to Commissioner Sullivan by dedicating a popular, special open space to honor his lasting contributions."

Appointed by former Gov. William T. Cahill and the only Democrat in Cahill's Cabinet, Sullivan served as the first commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, created on America's first official Earth Day -- April 22, 1970, until his resignation in 1974. New Jersey was the third state in the nation to consolidate its programs into a major, unified agency to administer aggressive environmental protection and conservation efforts.

Today, the DEP is recognized as a national leader in pollution prevention, open space preservation and innovative environmental strategies.

Campbell also thanked the Liberty State Park Friends Group for their support in the special recognition of Sullivan.

Raised in Jersey City, Sullivan, 78, also is regarded as the architect of the Pinelands Commission and served as its chairman from 1988 to 1998. Further, his contributions to New Jersey's state park system are significant. A tireless advocate for additional land preservation funding during his tenure as commissioner, Sullivan has since testified against inappropriate development of Liberty State Park and facilitated the funding and construction of the Island Beach State Park Nature Center.

Well-known New Jersey environmentalists and former colleagues of Sullivan say his impact on the Garden State's environmental resources cannot be overstated.

"Richard is dean of environmental affairs in New Jersey," said Helen Fenske, a former DEP assistant commissioner who headed Natural and Historic Resources. "There probably is no one more respected by business and industry and the environmental community."

Another former DEP colleague, Michael Catania, who served as a deputy commissioner, said, "Richard Sullivan is simply the patron saint of environmental protection in New Jersey."

Former Executive Director of the Pinelands Commission Terrence Moore said, "Richard is one of the most respected public officials this State has been fortunate to have in its government. His sense of fair play, integrity, and commitment to safeguarding our environmental resources continually earns admiration from all with whom he works."



NJDEP Parks & Forestry - Liberty State Park


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