TRENTON – New Jersey will use a $10.6 million federal stimulus grant to restore wetlands along the Hackensack River in Jersey City, creating wildlife habitat in a highly urbanized area, recreational opportunities for area residents, and some 100 jobs in a variety of construction-related fields, Governor Jon S. Corzine announced today.
“This project is precisely what President Barack Obama envisions when he talks about creating green jobs to spur economic recovery,” Governor Corzine said. “This grant, the largest awarded under a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration economic stimulus program, allows an important ecological restoration project to move forward and provides real benefits to our environment and our economy.”
The DEP was notified of the NOAA Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Project grant award and is completing the final design of the project, which will be carried out by private-sector contractors. The DEP will supplement the $14 million project with $3.5 million from existing Natural Resource Damage settlement accounts.
Construction is expected to begin in the fall. The project involves removing bulky debris and other wastes from a 35-acre section of an old landfill, allowing the land to once again benefit from daily tidal flows. The tract encompasses undeveloped parkland in Hudson County’s Lincoln Park.
“The restoration of these wetlands will make an important contribution to the ecological recovery of the lower Hackensack River,” Department of Environmental Protection
Acting Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello said. “The wetlands will be planted with native marsh grasses and shrubs, creating foraging and breeding habitat that is needed by many species of fish and birds. In addition, a walkway will provide access to the area, enabling residents to appreciate and learn about an ecosystem that was once prevalent along the Hackensack River and Newark Bay.”
Tidal wetlands dominated the property until the early 1900s, but filling activities raised the elevation of the land, blocking daily tidal flows and allowing nonnative vegetation that does not provide good wildlife habitat to take hold and become predominant.
Wetlands restoration will extend from the banks of a pond, west to the bank of the Hackensack River. A creek channel will be dug from the river so that alewife, a type of herring, can use the pond for spawning.
Among the factors that NOAA considered in awarding the grant to the DEP was the project’s readiness for construction and the jobs it will create. The project will create employment for heavy-equipment operators, truck drivers, firms that supply plants, carpenters, ecologists, engineers, scientists and people in other fields.
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