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July 28, 2003

Contact: Fred Mumford
(609) 984-1795

DEP Commits Funding for Lower Cape May Meadows and Cape May Point Environmental Restoration and Beach Fill Project
Agreement Signed with Army Corps of Engineers

(03/104) Cape May Point State Park -- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin a joint $15 million environmental restoration and protective beach fill project in Lower Cape May Meadows and Cape May Point.

"Governor McGreevey continues to make shore protection funding a top priority to ensure proper stewardship of our natural resources," said Commissioner Campbell. "This project will support the recreation and tourism that drive the region 's economy, while enhancing our coastal ecosystem for migratory and resident bird populations."

A $25 million allocation is included in the recently adopted State Fiscal Year 2004 budget to fund beach fill and nourishment, dredging, environmental restoration and beach repair work required after storms. New Jersey's shore tourism industry contributes upwards of $16 billion to the state economy, employing hundreds of thousands of people.

"I am grateful to Senator Corzine and Congressman LoBiondo for fighting for full federal funding for this innovative restoration and protection project," said Commissioner Campbell. "Cape May State Park and the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge are clearly national treasures--viewing areas for numerous bird species and also an internationally significant coastal wetland along the Atlantic Flyway."

Commissioner Campbell signed a Project Cooperation Agreement with Lt. Col. Thomas C. Chapman, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District, that commits DEP and the Army Corps to perform the work beginning September 2003. Management of 95 acres of phragmites is the first of several ecological restoration actions planned in Lower Cape May Meadows that will be followed by dune restoration work.

"Partnership and teamwork are what makes the Corps of Engineers the premier public engineering organization that it is and I am confident that the Philadelphia District, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Borough of Cape May Point and the Nature Conservancy will achieve the project's goals of protecting and restoring Lower Cape May Meadows for future generations," said Lt. Col. Chapman.

The environmental restoration plan also includes: planting of 18 acres of dune vegetation; seaward restoration of 35 acres of previously eroded emergent wetland; planting of 105 acres of emergent wetland vegetation; restoration/creation of drainage ditches t o restore flow and link hydrological segments of the project area; installation of water control structures; creation of deep water fish reservoirs within existing ponds; and, construction of a shallow earthen water retaining structure and a self-regulating tide gate at Cape Island Creek to allow for a 25 acre tidal marsh.

The protective dune and berm restoration project involves 2,372,000 cubic yards of sand extending 1.9 miles from the 3rd Avenue terminal groin in Cape May City to the Central Avenue groin in Cape May Point. Periodic nourishment of 650,000 cubic yards of sand is required approximately every four years.

Lower Cape May Meadows consists of a 1.3 mile long, 350 acre area of undeveloped oceanfront land containing Cape May Point State Park and the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, which is owned by the Nature Conservancy. These freshwater wetlands are one of the most important migratory stopovers in the world for birds of prey, shorebirds, songbirds, and waterfowl as well as an important breeding area for both rare and common birds. Estimates include about 60,000 raptors and over 1,000,000 seabirds migrate through this area each year. Lower Cape May Meadows has been severely impacted by shoreline that has left the existing freshwater ecosystem substantially degraded through saltwater intrusion and drainage pattern alteration. Breaching of the dunes at the Meadows also causes flooding to Cape May Point, West Cape May and Lower Township.

Initial construction is estimated at $15 million and an additional $4 million will be required every four years for the periodic nourishment. The 50-year project cost is estimated at nearly $75 million.



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