DEP SEEKS PUBLIC INPUT ON UPDATE TO DELAWARE ESTUARY PLAN THAT
WILL SERVE AS ROADMAP TO PROTECT UNIQUE NATURAL RESOURCE
(18/P056) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection is encouraging the public to provide input on revisions to the Delaware Estuary Program’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the Delaware Estuary, a roadmap that will guide regional conservation and water-quality enhancement decisions for the coming decade.
The comprehensive management plan serves as the guide for the work that New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware – along with other federal, regional, state and local partners – will implement to enhance the estuary. It will also steer how federal National Estuary Program funds will be used.
“The Delaware estuary region is recognized across the globe for its ecological diversity – in particular its importance as a migratory stopover for shorebirds, hawks and eagles, even butterflies and dragonflies,” said DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “It is important for the public to help shape the long-term direction for protecting this critical and unique natural resource.”
“We are grateful for the hundreds of people who have provided input and ideas for revising this plan so far,” says Jennifer Adkins, executive director of Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, the non-profit organization responsible for leading efforts to revise the plan and oversee its implementation.
The public may submit comments through Friday, July 20 by clicking the logo or by visiting www.delawareestuary.org/our-plan/
The Delaware Estuary Program, one of 28 National Estuary Programs administered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, includes the Delaware Bay and tidal portions of the Delaware River from Trenton to the mouth of the bay, and tributaries.
This is the first time the comprehensive plan has been updated since 1996, when it was adopted and became the cornerstone of partnerships to balance the economic roles of the estuary while enhancing protection of its aesthetic, recreational and ecosystem values.
The goal of the plan is to develop estuary improvements to benefit millions of people in the tri-state region. Ongoing public education, outreach and stakeholder involvement are key elements of the plan.
The proposed comprehensive management plan includes strategies for protecting and enhancing water quality by focusing on reducing pollution and ensuring plentiful water for the future. Strategies for healthy habitats focus on sustaining wetlands, forests and shellfish.
The plan also seeks to build strong communities through strategies aimed at improving public access and resilience, ensuring environmental justice, and engaging the public as environmental stewards.
The region is perhaps most famous as a key feeding stopover for huge flocks of shorebirds that each spring pass through the area on their way north to breeding grounds, a phenomenon that depends on healthy populations of horseshoe crabs whose eggs provide a vital food source for these birds. The estuary is also an important hub of economic activity as a major shipping route for ports in the Philadelphia and Camden area.
Estuaries are vital to people, who rely on them for drinking water, industry, food production and recreation. Estuaries are lined with vital wetlands that filter stormwater runoff from the land.
Over the decades, the DEP has been actively engaged in preserving tens of thousands of acres of sensitive marshes, meadows and forests in the watershed and is involved in extensive biological and water-quality monitoring for the region.
The DEP has also taken strong steps to protect water quality, worked to assess the impacts of sea-level rise, helped restore the vitality of the region’s oyster industry and water-based resource culture, conducted extensive research into the role the estuary plays in wildlife migrations, restored degraded wetlands, and identified and addressed impacts from stormwater runoff.
New Jersey is also a partner in two other National Estuary Programs – the New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program and the Barnegat Bay Estuary Program. Both these programs are also in the process of updating their comprehensive management plants. Additional information about the EPA’s National Estuary Programs can be found at: www.epa.gov/nep
PHOTOS/Top: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary; Bottom: NJDEP