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July 15, 2003


Contact: Jack Kaskey

DEP Commissioner Announces Upgraded Protections for Endangered Species
Campbell also unveiled a traveling exhibit celebrating 30 years of endangered species protection in NJ

TRENTON (03/99) - Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced plans to protect the habitats of New Jersey's threatened and endangered species, making New Jersey a national leader in wildlife protection.

"New Jersey was among the earliest leaders in species protection. New Jersey's law actually predated the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, but our landmark law was never implemented through regulation," Campbell said. "I have directed my staff to develop needed standards, 30 years overdue, that will extend protection for New Jersey's threatened and endangered species to upland habitats. This will not only put New Jersey at the forefront of endangered species protection, but it also will be an important tool in Governor McGreevey's war on sprawl."

Campbell made the announcement at Liberty State Park in Jersey City during a celebration of the 30th anniversary of New Jersey's Endangered Species Conservation Act and the creation of the DEP's Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

Existing regulations do a good job of protecting listed species that occur in wetlands and in the Pinelands area, but the regulations often fail to protect species found elsewhere, the Commissioner said. Critical habitat regulations to be proposed later this year will use the state's Landscape Project - a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database of known habitats for threatened and endangered species - to protect upland habitats, as well.

The regulations will be incorporated into the Blueprint for Intelligent Growth (BIG) Map, one of the department's prime tools in combating sprawl. The color-coded map will allow for expedited development in appropriate areas, while clearly identifying areas where builders and developers will be subject to tougher standards.

The planned regulations Campbell outlined would require habitat conservation plans whenever new development occurs in environmentally sensitive areas that serve as habitat for threatened or endangered species. These provisions would be comparable to protections extended to federally protected species, protections that deem habitat destruction equivalent to the taking of a species. The planned regulations also would eliminate uncertainty concerning threatened and endangered species protection in smart growth areas, and minimize impacts to traditional farming and forestry practices.

Also Tuesday, Campbell was joined by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey in unveiling the New Jersey Endangered Wildlife Traveling Exhibit, an interactive display that showcases the history and achievements of endangered species protection in the state.

Using an interactive collage of video, audio and graphics, visitors can view the beautiful and diverse landscapes of New Jersey, while learning about the critical work necessary to ensure the future of our state's wildlife heritage.

"There are more than 70 endangered and threatened species in New Jersey that need our help to protect them from extinction," Campbell said. "This interactive exhibit will help foster public awareness of the plight of these species and help showcase the critical work that has been and continues to be done to keep New Jersey's wildlife in our future."

Signed into law on Dec. 14, 1973, the New Jersey Endangered Species Conservation Act preceded the federal Endangered Species Act by two weeks. The state law directed the DEP to protect, manage and restore the state's endangered and nongame wildlife species. Over the past 30 years, state biologists have made New Jersey a leader in bringing key species back from the brink of extinction - species such as the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and osprey.

The New Jersey Endangered Wildlife Traveling Exhibit will be stationed at Liberty State Park until Aug. 1 and will travel throughout the state before settling into its permanent home at the Division's Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center in Oxford, Warren County in April of 2004.

Stops along the way include the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor (Aug. 8 - Sept. 10); Tuckerton Seaport in Tuckerton (Sept. 12 - Oct. 27); Great Swamp Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge (Oct. 29 - Nov. 26); New Jersey State Museum in Trenton (Jan. 1 - Feb. 25); and Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark (March 1 - March 30).

Funding for the exhibit was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, and PSE&G.



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