CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION MARKS FOURTH BARNEGAT BAY BLITZ
Watershed Cleanup Reaffirms Governor Christie's Commitment to Barnegat Bay While Emphasizing Volunteerism Following Superstorm Sandy
(13/P52) TRENTON – Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin today joined thousands of local schoolchildren, residents and businesses in the fourth installment of the Christie Administration's Barnegat Bay Blitz watershed-wide cleanup.
Today's event marks the first blitz held since Superstorm Sandy and will feature the removal of storm debris and dune restoration projects, in addition to typical litter and debris cleanup.
"The spirit of volunteerism and stewardship that has been built throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed since the first blitz has taken on even more meaning this year as these same communities rebound from the devastation of Sandy," Commissioner Martin said. "I am truly moved by the amazing response from our volunteers considering all the challenges this region has faced over the past six months."
The blitz is a key part of Governor Christie's action plan for restoration of Barnegat Bay by providing needed cleanups and heightening public awareness about the ecological stresses the bay faces.
Volunteers participated from many parts of the state and each of the 37 municipalities in the 660-square-mile watershed, which encompasses 33 municipalities in Ocean County and four in Monmouth County. The DEP served as the core organizer, identifying cleanup locations and coordinating local volunteers.
Other core partners of the Blitz included New Jersey Clean Communities, Waste Management, New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, Wawa, New Jersey Natural Gas and Rowbear Consulting.
Supporters of the blitz include Americorps, Barnegat Bay Partnership, Clean Ocean Action, Dewberry, Excelon Generation, Firestone/Bridgestone, GTS Consulting, Home Depot, Lakewood Blue Claws, Maser Consulting, Ocean County, Ocean Spray, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Scotts Miracle Grow, Shoprite, Tow Boat US, United Water, the U.S. Coast Guard, the US Geological Survey, and Viridian.
"The Barnegat Bay Blitz has a deeper meaning this year in the wake of Sandy," said Angela Andersen, Recycling and Clean Communities Coordinator for Long Beach Township. "The Jersey Shore is very much alive but we are also very much still in the process of recovery. Having a watershed-wide community cleanup of our public spaces during the blitz is a good reminder that we will be OK and that we are coming out of this together."
"This spring's blitz is more important than ever before," said John Wnek, supervisor with the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) at Ocean County College, which provided dozens of students for today's cleanups. "Sandy devastated homes, properties and habitats. It made us think about being better stewards of one another, and also that we need to be the ones to make a difference in our environment."
Commissioner Martin kicked off the day-long event during a ceremony at the Surf City Municipal Boat Ramp, where he was joined by students from the MATES Academy, the Southern Regional Middle School and the Ethel Jacobson Elementary School. He then joined volunteers in cleaning up scraps of wood and other storm debris in a marsh area in the Loveladies section of Long Beach Township and later assisted in planting grasses and native shrubs on dunes in the Brant Beach section of Long Beach Township. The plants were donated by Home Depot and Scotts.
More than 11,300 volunteers have participated since the first Barnegat Blitz in May 2011, collecting thousands of bags of trash and filling dozens of dumpsters and dump trucks with a wide assortment of trash and debris.
"By raising public awareness, the Barnegat Bay Blitz is grassroots environmentalism at its finest," said Commissioner Martin. "As always, I am particularly excited by the involvement of schools and students. Our young people are our best hope for the bay's future."
Information about the Barnegat Bay Blitz, including a full list of partners and list of local cleanups, can be found at: http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/bbblitz.htm
For information on the Governor's Comprehensive Restoration Plan, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/barnegatbay/