THOUSANDS EXPECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN THIRD BARNEGAT BAY BLITZ;
CLEANUP EFFORT ADVANCES GOVERNOR CHRISTIE’S RESTORATION PLAN
Young volunteers will again be keys to watershed-wide cleanup
(12/P119) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin will join thousands of volunteers on Thursday for the third installment of the Barnegat Bay Blitz, the popular watershed-wide trash and debris cleanup effort that is raising awareness of the ecological stresses the estuary faces.
“By rolling up our sleeves and working together, we are proving that solutions to the bay’s problems are within our reach,’’ Commissioner Martin said. “I am especially proud of the involvement of dozens of schools and their students. Our youth are our best hope for the future of the bay.”
Public education is a key component of Governor Chris Christie’s 10-point comprehensive plan for restoring the ecological health of Barnegat Bay from decades of decline. The inaugural version of the cleanup in October 2011 and the follow-up event in May of this year were extremely successful, with 6,800 volunteers collecting more than 3,200 bags of trash and recyclables and filling 40 dumpsters.
DEP partners in the cleanup include the New Jersey Clean Communities Council, MATES Academy at the Ocean County Vocational School, the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Waste Management, the Barnegat Bay Partnership, ReClam the Bay, United Water, ShopRite, Wawa, Rowbear Consulting Co., and the American Council of Engineering Companies.
“The Blitz is a great opportunity for our young people to take action and to build a strong community of stewardship for a cleaner bay and watershed,” said Barnegat Bay Partnership Director Stan Hales. “While learning about the bay and working together to make a difference in their neighborhood, young Blitz participants are also learning to be good citizens and caretakers of the bay’s valuable resources. Education and stewardship are two critical areas for both the NJDEP and the Barnegat Bay Partnership in our efforts to protect and restore the Barnegat Bay. “
The Barnegat Bay Blitz will run from 8 a.m. to dusk, rain or shine. Commissioner Martin will pitch in during several local cleanups throughout the day. Deputy Commissioner Irene Kropp will lead an opening ceremony at the DEP’s Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson beginning at 8:30 a.m.
The cleanups target a wide variety of locations, including wetlands, stream banks, stormwater discharge points, school grounds, trails, docks, areas around bulkheads, and the bay itself.
Volunteers are coming from all 37 municipalities in the 660-square-mile watershed, which encompasses 33 municipalities in Ocean County and four in Monmouth County. The bay is suffering from degraded water quality caused by many factors, including excessive algae growth caused by nutrients from fertilizers and other sources.
The following is Commissioner Martin’s itinerary:
9:30 a.m. – Joins volunteers from the Toms River region as well as students from the MATES Academy and volunteers from United Water and ShopRite for a cleanup at the South Toms River Recreation Center, 1 Drake Lane, Toms River 08757.
11 a.m. – Works with local students who will be cleaning up several locations in Point Pleasant Borough, including the community park at Bridge Avenue and Beaver Dam Road, Beaver Dam Park, and the Slade Dale Sanctuary at Dorset Dock Road and Sea Point Drive. The meeting location for the Commissioner is Beaver Dam Park, 3430 Bridge Avenue, Point Pleasant 08742.
1 p.m. – Takes a boat from Island Beach State Park to Sedge Island to join residents, DEP employees and volunteers from ReClam the Bay for removal of trash and debris from the ecologically sensitive island. The cleanup was suggested by Sarah Jakositz and Jill Hubbard, interns at Sedge Island who also attend the MATES Academy. The Commissioner will depart from parking lot A21 at the southern end of the park.
3:30 p.m. – Leads ceremonies at Island Beach State Park thanking volunteers for their work and providing initial estimates of how much trash was collected during the day. The ceremony will be at the pavilion for Ocean Bathing Area 1, which is 3.5 miles south of the park entrance.
As part of the day-long effort, students from the Ethel Jacobsen Elementary School in Surf City will join the town council to work on trash removal from the bay shoreline.
“The Jacobsen School has developed a full educational program around the Blitz,” said Blitz coordinator Katie Barnett. “The program promotes bay stewardship and teaches students about the bay’s natural resources and ecological challenges through follow-up classroom work and a newsletter the students produce.”
“Schools that participate in the Blitz also become eligible to participate in the DEP’s Rain Barrel Challenge,” added Blitz coordinator Lynette Lurig. “Rain barrels help reduce stormwater runoff and provide water that can be used for gardens. During November and December, DEP staff and New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors will be available to give classes lessons on stormwater, water pollution and water conservation.”
The DEP will provide rain barrels and educational materials that include a poster and instructions on how to build and decorate rain barrels. From January 25 through Feb. 15, the public will be able to view pictures of decorated rain barrels from each participating school and vote for their favorites at http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/bbblitz.htm#
The winning school will receive a Barnegat Bay Festival Day at their school featuring hands-on demonstrations and programs designed to engage students about the bay and the importance of water.
Other efforts undertaken by the Christie Administration as a result of the governor’s 10-point bay restoration plan include the safe closure of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant by 2019, enhanced state funding for local governments for projects to better control stormwater pollution, a tough statewide fertilizer law that benefits the bay by reducing nutrients in stormwater runoff, multiple studies of water issues in the bay, and a first-ever Barnegat Bay-wide water quality monitoring network
Much of the trash that will be collected could otherwise ultimately enter the bay through the discharge of stormwater. Stormwater carries pollutants such as common lawn fertilizers, automotive fluids and silt that degrade wildlife habitat and water quality in Barnegat Bay and its tributaries.
The trash that volunteers collect will be turned over to local public works departments for proper disposal. Much of it, such as bottles and cans, will be recycled.
MEDIA NOTES: In addition to covering Commissioner Martin’s stops, media may contact team captains to coordinate local cleanup coverage. Team captain contact numbers and other information about the Barnegat Bay Blitz can be found at:
For information on the Governor’s Comprehensive Restoration Plan, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/barnegatbay/