In New Jersey, Coastal Land Protection Creates More Resilient Communities

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Toms River Divide, Barnegat Bay
Photo credit: 
Ken Sherman
 

Coastal communities in New Jersey contain some of the most beautiful, environmentally significant, and economically important natural areas in America. They're also now among the most vulnerable, with increased risk of flooding, windstorms, and more frequent extreme weather events-as we learned all too well with Hurricane Sandy.

For years, The Trust for Public Land has been in the forefront in acquiring and protecting flood-prone natural areas along Barnegat Bay. Post-Sandy, we're stepping up these efforts to provide green infrastructure as a tool to build more climate-resilient communities.

The impact of Hurricane Sandy's storm surge on Barnegat Bay and The Trust for Public Land's conservation work there can be seen in this map . Data layers marking TPL-protected land and federal, state, and local protected areas show where natural lands acted as a line of defense, absorbing some of the impacts of the storm surge. Had these bayfront areas been developed with residences rather than being conserved, the damage wrought by Sandy could have been that even more destructive.

Going forward, New Jersey's Blue Acres and Green Acres programs will remain an important mechanism to buy out flood-prone or impacted properties and to protect existing open space that can help reduce future storm damage and flooding.

Recently, Tom Gilbert, Senior Conservation Finance Director and Chairman of the NJ Keep It Green coalition, co-authored an op-ed story that appeared in The Star-Ledger highlighting the critical need to renew state funding for these programs in order to repair impacted communities and invest in the protection of places that could be at risk from future storms. In New Jersey and across the country, The Trust for Public Land's Conservation Finance team is developing similar funding strategies to support parks as a means to build sustainable and more resilient communities.

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