FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2023
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Vincent Grassi (609) 984-1795
(23/P003) TRENTON – New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette today announced the award of $24.3 million in Natural Climate Solutions Grants to local governments and nonprofits to create, restore, and enhance New Jersey’s green spaces and tree canopies in urban areas, salt marshes and forests.
“With Governor Phil Murphy's vision and leadership, New Jersey is waging its fight against climate change on multiple fronts,” said Commissioner LaTourette during a ceremony in Trenton. “New Jersey will avoid the worst effects of our changing climate not only by reducing emissions of climate pollutants, but by investing in natural solutions that sequester carbon causing the extreme heat and flooding repeatedly striking our communities. Through DEP's nation-leading Natural Climate Solutions Grant Program, we will better support communities in their work to mitigate climate impacts – from our urban core, to the Atlantic coast, to our bay shores. And, with over $24 million of investments in urban and community forestry, marsh restoration, and living shorelines, we will beautify neighborhoods and build greater climate resilience in the process.”
The announcement, made at Mill Hill Park in Trenton, underscores the important role natural resources play in sequestering carbon to meet the Garden State’s greenhouse gas goals. Meeting the state’s 2050 goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases below 2006 levels requires an acceleration of the restoration of our shorelines, forests, and urban spaces. It is estimated that these projects will sequester 32,710 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) by 2050.
“These grants are providing real opportunities for our Environmental Justice communities to take meaningful steps toward climate resilience and an improved environment,” said Kandyce Perry, Director of the DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice. “While each community has differing needs and ways of getting to their goals, they each share the strong desire to help improve the quality of life for their residents.”
Funding provided to New Jersey Conservation Foundation for their Throwin’ Shade: Greening the Capital City project will allow the organization to plant a total of 1,000 trees in Trenton to enhance the city’s urban tree canopy.
“We are excited to partner with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and plant 1,000 trees throughout Trenton,” said Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora. We are grateful to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for investing in the Capital City, protecting our natural resources, and collaborating with us so that we can do our part in the global fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
“This grant is an investment in our city’s green infrastructure and its people. We now have an opportunity to not only plant trees, but also engage the community in the long-term care that will ensure these trees thrive for the benefit of future generations,” said New Jersey Conservation Foundation Co-Executive Director Jay Watson. “We believe this project can be transformative in our capital city where residents are experiencing disproportionate impacts of climate change. Urban neighborhoods are dealing with the ‘heat island effect’ that causes higher ambient temperatures than in suburban and rural areas.”
Carbon sequestration refers to the process of capturing carbon dioxide from the air by plants through photosynthesis and storage of that carbon in woody biomass and in plant-derived soil organic carbon. While carbon sequestration is a naturally occurring process on land and in aquatic habitats, there are human actions that can help maintain and enhance carbon sequestration capacity to further help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Prime examples of ways to promote carbon sequestration include improved land management practices, such as reforestation (planting trees to support forest regeneration), urban community forestry (street tree planting), afforestation (planting trees on land that has been used for other purposes) and protecting tidal marshes from erosion. Protecting coastal ecosystems is particularly important since tidal marshes and seagrass meadows sequester more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests.
The city of Newark received $1.2 million to remove hazardous, dead trees and plant 331 new trees in five target neighborhoods in the city.
“Newark is committed to creating a greener, healthier, and more sustainable city for its residents and visitors alike, and we are grateful to the state Department of Environmental Protection for its Natural Climate Solutions $1.2 million grant, which will place trees in targeted neighborhoods across the city,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “This will reduce heat and sequester carbon emissions in our neighborhoods, which will support the health of our community. These trees will also reduce stormwater runoff; provide environmental education through NJIT; community science and development; and jobs and training opportunities for residents.”
Funding provided to the American Littoral Society for their Restoring Marsh at the Mouth of the Maurice River project will lead to the restoration of 19.5 acres of tidal salt marsh and create up to 3,500 feet of living shoreline and oyster reefs.
“We appreciate the confidence of the Commissioner and the Department in awarding us this grant to undertake this necessary work. New Jersey is Ground Zero for the impacts of climate change and harnessing the power of nature is the most effective response available to us. Tidal marshes are masters at taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it safely away in the ground. They also provide critical habitat and provide protection against extreme wave action and flooding, enhancing the resiliency of our coastal communities,” said Executive Director of the American Littoral Society Tim Dillingham.
“Our project takes place in one of the most vulnerable communities along the Delaware Bayshore and we thank the Murphy Administration for bringing attention and resources to partner with this community as it faces the impact of climate change. The Littoral Society has been a leader in developing nature-based approaches to responding to climate change along our coast and we look forward to this work which will open a new chapter in strengthening New Jersey,” said Dillingham.
Projects announced today are funded through New Jersey’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state, market-based program that establishes a regional cap on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel power plants.
The following projects will receive funding up to the stated amount through DEP’s Natural Climate Solutions Grant Program:
Urban Forest Canopy and Water Quality Enhancement
City of Atlantic City, $759,000
Atlantic Avenue Street Tree Initiative
Atlantic City along with a number of local project partners will plant 180 trees along 13 blocks of Atlantic Avenue between Maine and Tennessee avenues. In addition to increasing natural carbon sequestration, the project will provide increased shade and reduce the need for energy produced for air conditioning, reducing the heat island effect in a coastal, overburdened community. Other project benefits include improvements to local air quality and a reduction in stormwater runoff and promotion of groundwater recharge.
Berkeley Heights Township, $721,325
Berkeley Heights Tree Canopy Restoration
The township will work with the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission (BHEC), Union County Division of Park Environmental Services, Arterial, and other stakeholders to plant 555 trees on township streets and rights-of-way and 120 trees to reforest a blighted area adjacent to Watchung Reservation. These increases to the urban tree canopy in the township will sequester more carbon and will reduce stormwater runoff and the heat island effect.
Town of Kearny, $503,694
Kearny Urban Forest Canopy & Stormwater Mitigation
This project will improve water quality and air quality, increase community green space, and enhance the aesthetic of communal outdoor spaces in Kearny's overburdened communities through the planting of 300 street trees and 28 bioswales.
“The Town of Kearny is grateful to NJDEP for this generous grant to restore our community’s natural areas to better sequester and store carbon and improve resiliency,” said Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos. “I want to thank NJDEP and the Murphy Administration for all their efforts and leadership in protecting our natural environment through the Natural Climate Solutions grant. These funds will allow our town to implement our climate solution strategies to the next step.”
City of Linden, $355,500
City of Linden Urban Tree Restoration
The City of Linden will plant 540 trees across eight Blue Acres-acquired lots and three city-owned, partially Green Acres-funded parks and lots in the Tremley Point region, including Sgt. A. Wales Memorial Park and Louis Avenue Park. The city will pair this carbon sequestration project with a public outreach effort which includes educational signage at each site and a public tree planting event with the local community.
“The City of Linden is proud to be a recipient of NJDEP's NCS grant program,” said Linden Mayor Derek Armstead. “These funds will enable us to plant over 500 trees and install educational signage across several barren Blue Acres-acquired properties and City-owned parks in our Tremley Point region. This project will help reduce the urban heat island effect, help sequester carbon, create wildlife habitat and enhance green space in our Environmental Justice Community.”
City of Newark, $1,228,148
Newark Canopy Initiative
The city of Newark’s Office of Sustainability will work with local contractors and community members on the Newark Tree Canopy initiative. This project will remove hazardous, dead trees and plant 331 new trees in five target neighborhoods in the city. The planting areas – one in each ward – were selected based on community-centered analyses that identified areas of the city that have greater needs to increase urban tree canopy.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation, $1,336,125
Throwin’ Shade: Greening the Capital City
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation will work with a coalition that includes the City of Trenton, Isles, the New Jersey Tree Foundation, the Watershed Institute, and the Outdoor Equity Alliance to enhance Trenton’s urban tree canopy. This project will plant a total of 1,000 trees on city streets that have few to no trees and in Cadwalader and Mill Hill parks that have experienced heavy losses of trees due to age and disease. This project will sequester carbon, increase the urban tree canopy, and mitigate the urban heat-island effect, stormwater runoff, and poor water and air quality in Trenton.
Trust for Public Land, $1,035,668
Enhancing Camden’s Canopy for Climate & Community
Camden’s Natural Climate Solutions Collaborative will plant at least 800 trees across three public spaces and at least 215 trees in public housing complexes in the Centerville and Morgan Village neighborhoods in Camden City. Other priority tree planting sites include Gateway Park, Reverend Evers Park, and Stockton Station Park. The Collaborative is led by Trust for Public Land in partnership with Camden Community Partnership, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, New Jersey Tree Foundation, Camden City, Housing Authority of Camden City, and Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority.
“Enhancing urban tree canopy directly improves community health not only by reducing pollution, but also by mitigating the effects of urban heat and localized flooding. Additionally, it provides Camden residents critical opportunities to learn, plant, and celebrate with their neighbors,” said Justin Dennis, Trust for Public Land Camden Program Director. “TPL looks forward to using this grant to work with our community, non-profit, and public partners to enhance the urban canopy in parks across Camden and build on the city's strong history of using community forestry to improve the health and livability of communities that have been disproportionately burdened with environmental stressors.”
American Littoral Society, $4,999,946
Restoring Marsh at the Mouth of the Maurice River
This restoration project is at a site within the Delaware Bay at the mouth of the Maurice River. The project will restore 19.5 acres of tidal salt marsh using rock revetments at the tip of Basket Flats Marsh. It will also create up to 3,500 feet of hybrid living shoreline breakwaters and oyster reefs that will protect over 4,300 linear feet of shoreline along Basket Flats and Northwest Reach.
Township of Brick, $4,997,124
Forsythe Refuge Marsh Restoration
This project will lead to coastal wetland restoration of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Brick Township. The project will place more than 120,000 cubic yards of suitable dredged sediment into a series of 13 cells to increase tidal salt marsh elevation, protecting the marsh from drowning. The total area of sediment placement is approximately 95 acres of marsh. Added protective measures will be used to contain placed sediment and strengthen shorelines. The elevated marsh will be planted in areas that did not previously contain vegetation to ensure recolonization of vegetation occurs to ultimately restore the health of the marsh.
The Nature Conservancy, $1,846,470
Restoring Salt Marsh Habitats at Lighthouse Center
This project addresses salt marsh erosion, degradation and loss caused by deficits in elevation and alterations in natural hydrology at the Lighthouse Center in Waretown, NJ. 7.58 acres of salt marsh will be re-established, and carbon sequestration will be increased through erosion control, improved hydrology, and increased elevation suitable to sustain a healthy marsh. The Lighthouse Center in Waretown is owned by the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife as part of the Upper Barnegat Wildlife Management Area.
“As sea level rises and storm-related flooding intensifies, the protective role of healthy coastal salt marshes multiplies in importance for Jersey Shore communities,” said Adrianna Zito-Livingston, TNC’s Coastal Projects Coordinator. “The NCS grant to TNC will fund the crucial restoration of salt marsh vegetation at the Lighthouse Center/ In addition to storing carbon, the restored wetlands will buffer waves, provide wildlife habitat, and exemplify the coastal management practice of linking boat channel maintenance dredging with salt marsh restoration.”
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, $766,442
Living Shorelines Salt Marsh Carbon Sequestration at Matt’s Landing
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Inc. will lead this project to construct a living shoreline of 1,300 feet along a rapidly eroding salt marsh in the Maurice River at Matt’s Landing. The work will be performed in partnership with Rutgers University Haskins Shellfish Research Laboratory, Ducks Unlimited, Stevens Institute of Technology, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NJDEP Fish and Wildlife.
“The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary is grateful for the funding support received from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection through the Natural Climate Solutions grant program. As the host of the Delaware Estuary Program, PDE leads collaborative and science-based efforts to improve the tidal Delaware River and Bay in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware,” said Kathy Klein, the Partnership’s Executive Director. “This funding is instrumental in allowing PDE to move forward with the next phase of a living shoreline installation project along the lower Maurice River, which will include the construction of 1,300 feet of living shoreline along a rapidly eroding marsh and improved carbon sequestration. Living shorelines are nature-based tactics for protecting shores against erosion and flooding, while also promoting water quality, habitat for fish and wildlife, and diverse aesthetic and cultural benefits.”
Stafford Township, $4,998,109
Stafford Township Popular Point Restoration Project
Stafford Township, in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will enhance more than 33 acres of tidal salt marsh wetland as part of a living shoreline project. The township and project partners will utilize approximately 150,000 cubic yards of dredge material to elevate, re-stabilize, and revegetate the shoreline to protect against erosion and increase carbon sequestration in a portion of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
Forest and Woodland Restoration
Municipality of Princeton, $552,000
Community Park North Forest Restoration
The 45-acre forest restoration project at Community Park North will involve removing invasive species with a combination of contracted labor and volunteers. Thousands of native trees will be planted to replace the non-native species.
“The Municipality of Princeton aims to be a local leader in sustainability, and we are always looking for opportunities to decrease our collective carbon footprint,” said Councilmember Eve Niedergan. “Alongside our non-profit partners at Friends of Princeton Open Space, we are thrilled to be granted the opportunity to restore the Community Park North forest, improving its ecological function and increasing carbon sequestration.”
Readington Township Environmental Commission, $250,000
Readington Township Meadow Afforestation
The Readington Meadow Afforestation project will plant native species of trees on 11 acres of selected open fields and meadows in Readington Township, returning these areas back to woodlands and reconnecting them with adjacent contiguous forests.
“Readington Township has had a long history of open space and farmland preservation,” said Readington Mayor Juergen Huelsebusch and Project Manager Robert Becker. “The Township established a goal in 2018 to preserve an additional 3,000 acres of land and achieve the protection of 40% of our total lands by 2050. As Readington continues to pursue this goal, our land stewardship responsibilities of these acquired properties becomes more important. What could be timelier than the opportunity to convert old farmland back to native woods? Concurrently, we can provide an educational opportunity to the community on the value and importance of trees as an ally in addressing global climate change. Thank you NJDEP’s Natural Climate Solutions grant for this opportunity, and we are excited to get on with meeting the challenge.”
For more information about the Natural Climate Solutions Grant Program, visit https://www.nj.gov/dep/climatechange/mitigation/ncs-grant.html
For more information about projects funded through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, visit RGGI Climate Investments Dashboard
For more information about climate change, visit www.nj.gov/dep/climatechange/
Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP, Facebook @newjerseydep, Instagram @nj.dep and LinkedIn @newjerseydep