NJ’s Gunning Island Protected

Rumson, NJ, 11/20/2007: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Borough of Rumson announced today the protection of 20 acres on Gunning Island today. Partners in the effort, including U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg and other federal officials, and representatives of the Borough of Rumson, the state of New Jersey, Monmouth County, and Boy Scout Troop 201, gathered alongside the Shrewsbury River to celebrate the $2.05 million purchase.

Blum Island, Inc. donated the land to the Monmouth County Boy Scout Council, which sold the land, meaning that all of Gunning Island is now owned by the borough and will be managed for public benefit.

“The conservation of Gunning Island ensures that this undeveloped island and its ecological, educational, and recreational benefits will be forever protected for current and future generations of New Jerseyans,” said Terrence Nolan, New Jersey field office director of The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit land conservation organization that negotiated the purchase. “We are very grateful to all of the partners in this project and for the leadership of New Jersey’s congressional delegation for securing critical federal funding for this effort.”

“The Borough of Rumson is very pleased to be a part of the preservation of Gunning Island and in preserving the unique features of the Navesink and Shresbury rivers that surround the borough,” said Mayor John Ekdahl. “Preserving the island as open space will allow future generations to enjoy and participate in recreation activities on the rivers that surround us.”

The effort conserves scenic views and protects wildlife habitat and water quality. The newly created wildlife preserve will be accessible by water to kayakers, canoeists, student groups, birders, and others for recreation and wildlife viewing.

The New Jersey congressional delegation secured federal funding from NOAA’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program to protect the property.

“We need to do all we can to preserve open spaces in the Raritan Bay watershed and throughout New Jersey,” said Senator Lautenberg. “Gunning Island is a vital habitat for the plant and animal wildlife in our region. I am proud to have helped secure the funding to acquire this land and to ensure Gunning Island is preserved for future generations of New Jersey’s children.”

“This is a good day for our state’s environment and for New Jerseyans who love the outdoors. Our densely-populated state benefits from Gunning Island because it creates a habitat for wildlife and protects the natural beauty that New Jersey has to offer. I am delighted that the funding was secured to protect this important piece of open space,” said Senator Robert Menendez.

“The purchase of this remaining land on Gunning Island ensures the entire Island will now be protected and preserved for the benefit of our community and our environment,” said U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). “This new preserve will offer a haven for wildlife, protect our water quality, and offer recreational enjoyment for generations to come.”

“The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is proud to have played a part in preserving this important property, which is so rich in natural resources,” said John Flynn, administrator of the DEP’s Green Acres Program. “We are very fortunate to have so many outstanding partners working to preserve New Jersey’s landscape. Thanks to the efforts of the funding partners, wildlife enthusiasts will be able to enjoy the quiet and natural beauty of Gunning Island forever.”

“Gunning Island is a wonderful addition to Monmouth County’s open space preservation program,” said Monmouth County Freeholder Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry. “Its central location ensures that future generations will forever enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the Shrewsbury River. We thank our federal representatives, the State, the Borough of Rumson, and the Boy Scout Council for making this permanent preservation of open space a reality.”

Gunning Island is located in the Shrewsbury River where it flows into Raritan Bay just south of Sandy Hook. Nestled between Monmouth County, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York, Raritan Bay forms one of the outermost sections of the New York-New Jersey Harbor ecosystem. The shoreline, wetlands, and uplands of the bays are ecologically important habitats for birds, marine life, and fisheries. There are few remaining parcels of open space in the watersheds draining into Raritan Bay, the most densely populated region in the United States.

Gunning Island was a natural sedge island before being supplemented by dredged soil from the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers. The augmented island has quickly filled in with native flora and fauna, and is rapidly becoming an important stopover point for migratory birds, also acting as permanent habitat to birds and other animals. The adjacent sedge islands also benefit from the conservation of Gunning Island.

In addition to the protection of Gunning Island, NJ’s congressional delegation is taking the lead in Congress on reauthorizing the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP). Sen. Lautenberg is one of the primary sponsors of S. 1142, the Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act. That bill has moved through committee and is awaiting a Senate floor vote. Similarly, NJ’s representatives are the lead sponsors of the House bill, H.R. 1907.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.2 million acres nationwide, including more than 25,000 acres in New Jersey.