State legislators Sen. Sam Thompson and Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Rob Clifton, all R-Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex and Burlington, praised the recent announcement by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of the $4.5 million purchase of a 293-acre tract in the Barnegat Bay watershed in Jackson Township that will be permanently preserved.
“This is an important open space purchase that will help us to prevent additional runoff into Barnegat Bay and protect a major aquifer that provides drinking water to Central and South Jersey,” said Thompson. “This purchase is also a good demonstration of how different levels of government can partner together to fund major land preservation projects.”
Preserving the “Cedar Branch” tract, which has been purchased from a developer, will help protect water quality of the Cedar Branch and Pole Brook tributaries of the Toms River, which is the source of more than 25 percent of the fresh water running into Barnegat Bay.
“The preservation of open-space is an important issue in New Jersey, particularly when fresh running water is involved,” said Dancer. “We know the concerns about pollution in Barnegat Bay from the air and fertilizers which contaminate the water. Preserving this sizeable tract of land is an important step in restoring the integrity of the bay and the people who depend on it as a natural resource.”
In 2010, Gov. Christie announced a 10-point Barnegat Bay Plan, with the multifaceted strategies of restoring and enhancing the bay, including efforts to reduce stormwater pollution, develop water quality standards, and preserve land in the bay’s 660-square-mile watershed.
“We can’t underestimate the value of preserving this wildlife area, the water, and the positive impact it has on our environment,” said Clifton. “Ensuring we have clean water and preserving natural habitats are ongoing challenges that must be addressed in order to protect our ecosystem. All the partners who contributed to the purchase of this parcel deserve our thanks for the efforts to keep our environment safe.”
Financial participants in this land transaction include the DEP’s Green Acres Program, which directly provided $500,000; Jackson Township, $2 million; Ocean County, $1.75 million; and The Trust for Public Land (TPL), $250,000 through a Green Acres grant.