March 26, 2020

DEP Snapshot: It’s 1980,
All Efforts Focused on Jersey Coast Protection and Development

(20/S011) – In New Jersey, it’s always been a priority to preserve the space where the sand meets the saltwater.

nj beach rowboatThe Garden State boasts 126 miles of Atlantic coastline, offering plenty of opportunity for living, working, playing and simply sitting in a beach chair, taking in the pristine view.

According to a 2018 report by Monmouth University’s Urban Coastal Institute, “… New Jersey’s coast has served as the ‘Summer Capital’ for seven presidents, hosts a large portion of the state’s 87.5 million annual visitors and is home to nearly 7 million year-round residents. It is a major contributor to the state’s economy, responsible for $38 billion in tourism dollars annually, as well as a thriving billion-dollar commercial and recreational fishing industry. The contributions that the coast makes to the well-being and peace of mind of residents and visitors are immeasurable.”

The report, titled “New Jersey’s Coastal Management Program: 40 Years of Coastal Protection, Policy and Progress 1978 – 2018,” goes on to say that rampant development had threatened the coast in the 1970s. But federal legislation passed in 1972 encouraged states to develop comprehensive Coastal Management Programs and New Jersey established its program in 1978.

Since then, New Jersey has continued to refine and improve its coastal management plans, with some significant steps occurring in 1980.

And now, a look at 1980 …

In 1980, Governor Brendan Byrne joined with President Jimmy Carter to proclaim its 365 days as the “Year of the Coast.”

Those 12 months saw a series of celebrations and meetings, including a conference on the future of the New Jersey Shore in September; a beach walk on Sandy Hook; and the first illumination of the Absecon Lighthouse, built in 1857, since 1964. These initiatives highlighted the achievement of one of the department’s major goals – a federally approved Coastal Management Program, which, under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, would significantly expand the state’s eligibility to receive federal grants for coastal protection and development.

According to a DEP annual report, in Fiscal Year 1980 alone, the DEP awarded 11 coastal grants totaling $196,000 to municipal and county governments for planning projects to enhance their waterfronts. Among the projects were waterfront parks, bikeways and commercial revitalization, including a plan for a series of 10 waterfront parks linked by a 20-mile bikeway along the Delaware River in Burlington County.