Source: The Link News -
New Jersey’s beachfronts face many environmental threats in the coming years and decades, from erosion to rising sea levels to major storms like Hurricane Sandy — and advocates fear the state isn’t putting enough money aside in its Shore Protection Fund to cover the costs.
On Tuesday, the Jersey Shore Partnership held a press conference on the Sea Bright beachfront to advocate for increasing the Shore Protection Fund from $25 million a year in the state’s budget to $50 million. They were joined by Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long, Freeholder Tom Arnone, Assembly members Mary Pat Angelini and David Wolfe, and State Senator Joe Kyrillos.
While the federal government paid for almost all of the costs of rebuilding for Sandy, those projects need to be maintained, at local’s expense. New Jersey steps in to cover much of municipalities’ 35 percent share, in part from the $25 million it puts aside in the budget each year for the Shore Protection Fund.
Assemblyman Wolfe and Senator Kyrillos said that the Shore Protection Fund had been started in the early 1990s, as a way to see beaches protected.
“Every year, we had to fight,” Kyrillos said.
Wolfe said a series of storms in the early 1990s, which did serious damage to shore towns, inspired the legislation to see if there was a solution. They discovered this was a long term problem.
“There was a drowsy state committee called the Beach Erosion Committee, established in the 1940s” to deal with this problem, Wolfe said. Trenton woke that committee up, and helped get funding for the Shore Protection Fund in place through the current system.
Versions of the bill are still before their respective committees in the Senate and Assembly, which must approve it before the whole legislative bodies can vote on it.
The bill has support from politicians in both parties, though as is the case with everything in the New Jersey, allocating money is always a problem.
Assemblywoman Angelini said the funding is worth it.
“God has given us this natural resource. It’s up to us to protect this,” she said. “We are in a budget crunch, but we have to prioritize.