NJDOT Awards $409,000 to Audubon
Funding will go towards
promotion of ecotourism, wildlife preservation
and economic development in Cape May,
Cumberland, and Salem Counties
(Goshen) - Today, New
Jersey Department of Transportation
(NJDOT) Commissioner Jack Lettiere presented
a check for $409,000 to the New Jersey
Audubon Society at the Audubon Society
Center for Research and Education in
Goshen. Lettiere was joined by representatives
of the New Jersey Department of Environmental
Protection ( NJDEP) and the New Jersey
Office of Travel and Tourism, who partnered
with the Audubon Society in applying
for the funding through the NJDOT's
Ecotourism Grant Program.
Society will use the dollars to develop
the Delaware Bayshore
Birding and Wildlife Trail, which
will connect important sites for viewing
birds and other wildlife via existing
roads and other transportation networks
such as bike paths and mass transit.
The purpose is to enhance ecotourism
and economic development opportunities
in the Delaware Bayshore area of Cumberland,
Cape May, and Salem counties, while
highlighting the importance of the transportation
corridors developed by NJDOT in affording
the public these viewing opportunities.
"We're proud of our efforts
to advance environmentally sound quality
of life initiatives through transportation
projects. This project is entirely consistent
our other smart growth transportation
efforts and will advance our goals.
This project is a marvelous effort and
partnership, and I would like to commend
the Audubon Society, the Department
of Environmental Protection and the
Office of Travel and Tourism for their
work," said Lettiere.
The Audubon Society will
work with NJDEP, Travel and Tourism
and NJDOT to ensure the Delaware
Bayshore Birding and Wildlife Trail
project is rich in products that will
benefit all of the major partners in
the initiative. These products will
include a guide to the Delaware
Bayshore Birding and Wildlife Trail,
an ecotourism guide to the businesses
for each county (based on the Audubon's
existing "Places to Eat, Shop, Stay
and Play" publication), a Web-based
version of both guides, GIS coverage
of the sites and the routes, a database
of stakeholder names and contact information,
and recommendations for signage and
future improvements to specific sites.
"The success of a project
of this size and value can only be accomplished
by this kind of private public partnership.
It will not just rely on a sound transportation
system, it will capitalize on New Jersey's
diverse wildlife," said Eric Stiles,
Vice President of Conservation for the
New Jersey Audubon Society.
The central idea behind
the grant is to bring together New Jersey's
outstanding wildlife tourism locations
by creating a cohesive birding and wildlife
trail guide to increase ecotourism and
strengthen the tie-in between the transportation
network and wildlife viewing.
The Delaware Bayshore
Birding and Wildlife Trail will
synthesize existing New Jersey wildlife
resources such as the Cape May Bird
Observatory, Cumberland County's Raptor
Festival, and Salem County's natural
diversity with newly identified sites,
into a single package that is more accessible
to the general wildlife watching public.
It will create a holistic approach,
which can be marketed at the local,
regional, state and national level.
An ecotourism guide to businesses for
each of the three counties connecting
visitors with the local places of business
will also be created.
Jersey offers some of the world's best
watchable wildlife. This
project will provide new opportunities
to showcase our rich variety of wildlife
and give residents and visitors greater
access to these natural treasures while
boosting the economic benefits that
ecotourism brings to our state,"
noted NJDEP Commissioner Bradley M.
renowned bird watching havens to unique
nature trails, New Jersey
visitors and residents some of the finest
ecotourism opportunities in the nation,"
said Nancy Byrne, executive director
of the New Jersey Office of Travel &
Tourism. "This project is vital
to preserving and promoting these vast
ecological treasures and we are delighted
to be a partner in this effort."
Delaware Bayshore (Cumberland, Cape
May and Salem counties) was the first
region chosen for the creation of a
Birding and Wildlife Trail for several
key reasons. First, it allows for expansion
of the existing name recognition of
Cape May. The multitude of existing
wildlife watchers that frequent Cape
May sites will be directed to little-known
gems to the northwest.
the Audubon Society will build upon
Cumberland County's terrific ecotourism
efforts. The county has been at the
forefront of promoting bird and wildlife
watching through its development of
the annual Raptor Festival in February
and the Purple Martin Festival in August.
Third, there are many
visitors from states to the west who
pass through Salem County on their way
to and from Cape May. Salem County is
one of the state's most rural areas,
and New Jersey Audubon has long promoted
its natural diversity through birding
weekends and this project will further
highlight the treasures in Salem County.
Finally, the quality of existing roads
in these three counties makes this region
easy to navigate and explore.