February 4, 2020

DEP Snapshot: It’s 1973,
CAFRA Draws a Line in the Sand to Protect the Jersey Shore

(20/S004) – In New Jersey, we actually debate over whether a certain breakfast meat is called Taylor ham or pork roll, whether that sandwich on a long roll is a sub or a hoagie, and if the bits of candy topping an ice cream cone are sprinkles or jimmies.

NJ Beach HouseBut there is one thing most Jerseyans can agree on: Of all the beautiful areas in the state, the crown jewel is the Jersey Shore.

Yep, here in the Garden State, we have an entire vocabulary built around those 126 miles of oceanfront coastline. For instance, we go down the Shore (note the uppercase “S”) and to the beach. Those who live (mostly) in northern counties – and are lucky enough – have Shore houses to which family, friends and friends of friends have been known to seek an invitation on summer days.

Who wouldn’t want a home with a sand-filled backyard and view of the ocean? That desire to live – and work and vacation – right at the water’s edge is why the Coastal Area Facility Review Act became so important in helping to keep the Jersey Shore intact.

And now, a look at 1973 …

In 1973, significant legislation was enacted to enhance DEP’s authority to protect New Jersey’s environment, including the Endangered and Non-Game Species Conservation Act, which provided for a comprehensive program to protect wildlife resources, and the Coastal Area Facility Review Act.

NJ Coastal ZoneCAFRA afforded protection for a 1,300-square-mile area stretching from Raritan Bay southward along the Atlantic Coast, around Cape May to the Delaware Bay in Salem County, encompassing the entire region typically known as the Jersey Shore. The Office of Environmental Analysis was established to develop the coastal area management program; prepare wetlands and tidelands maps; interim flood plain mapping; and environmental inventories.

Since the passage of CAFRA, New Jersey has amplified coastline protection in a variety of ways, including coastal management plans, wetlands guidelines and the Blue Acres program.

In October, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 89, which requires the establishment of a Statewide Climate Change Resiliency Strategy to make New Jersey more resilient to climate change. As part of that strategy, the DEP has been directed to develop a Coastal Resilience Plan to address issues specific to New Jersey’s coastal zone.

Last week, Governor Murphy, the president of the Board of Public Utilities and DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe announced a major leap forward in addressing climate change in New Jersey. In addition to unveiling the BPU’s Energy Master Plan, the Governor and Commissioner announced NJ PACT, a targeted regulatory reform effort that will modernize many of New Jersey’s environmental regulations.

Short for New Jersey Protecting Against Climate Threats, NJ PACT will usher in necessary changes to our air emissions and environmental land use regulations to enable New Jersey and the DEP to effectively respond to current climate threats and reduce future climate damages.