Township of Westfield, NJ

Somerset County Park System

Mercer County Park System

Parks and Recreation News Articles

  • 09/23/2021 9:50 AM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)

    September 23, 2021

    Contact: Lawrence Hajna  (609) 984-1795
    Caryn Shinske  (609) 292-2994


    (21/P29) TRENTON – A component of the Murphy Administration’s strategy to ensure New Jersey becomes more resilient to climate change, the Department of Environmental Protection will restore 10,000 acres of globally threatened Atlantic white cedar forests to the state’s Pinelands region, Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced today as part of the State’s recognition of Climate Week. New Jersey’s Atlantic white cedar forests have been adversely impacted by climate change, including by sea-level rise and storm surge that have brought saltwater into these fragile freshwater ecosystems, leaving ghost forests where thriving Atlantic white cedars once stood.

     “This is the largest forest restoration project ever undertaken in New Jersey and the largest ever in the nation restoring Atlantic white cedars,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “Through this project, we will reestablish once-dominant stands of Atlantic white cedar, but at higher elevations less vulnerable to rising seas and saltwater intrusion and provide habitat for globally rare plants and wildlife, while capturing and storing carbon and absorbing floodwaters.”

    The DEP’s Forest Service has already successfully returned Atlantic white cedar to sites where it has been lost on both public and private land. DEP will now scale up this effort, returning more than 10,000 acres of cedar forests to New Jersey’s Pinelands in places where its continued survival is not threatened by a changing climate. This effort will strengthen connectivity of this ecosystem, increase the area of high-value wetlands that store and naturally filter water, create natural breaks needed for wildfire control – and begin to restore the grandeur of southern New Jersey’s wetland forests. For information and a video, visit 

    The restoration activities will take place on state-owned forests, parks, and Wildlife Management Areas and is funded through DEP’s natural resource damage recoveries, including settlements with manufacturers and distributors of gasoline containing methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) that contaminated groundwater and surface water throughout New Jersey. DEP pursues natural resource damages to compensate the public for harm to their natural resources and utilizes recoveries for environmentally beneficial projects like the restoration of Atlantic white cedars, the creation and enhancement of wetlands, the cleanup of waterways, and other projects that support the public’s use and enjoyment of their environment.

    An imperiled resource

    At the time of European settlement, an estimated 500,000 acres of Atlantic white cedar forests stretched from Maine to northern Florida and along parts of the Gulf of Mexico coast – with some 115,000 acres in New Jersey alone. In New Jersey, these forests were found predominantly in the Pinelands and to a lesser extent in in the Meadowlands of northern New Jersey and the Delaware Bay and Raritan Bay regions. Today, fewer than 125,000 acres remain nationally. New Jersey, with less than 25,000 acres of Atlantic white cedar stands, remains a stronghold, though a diminished one.

    As a result of these losses, these forests are considered imperiled by various government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service. Past logging has been a significant contributor to the decline of Atlantic white cedars. Disease- and pest-resistant, cedar wood was valued for the construction of ships, shake roofs, clapboard, and fences. Other factors contributing to losses include ditching, draining of wetlands, deer browsing and dam-building by a rebounding beaver population.

    In addition, Atlantic white cedar, though a coastal species, is not salt-tolerant. New Jersey has lost large tracts of these forests in areas impacted by steady sea-level rise as well as by storm surge along creeks and rivers, particularly during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The impacts of sea-level rise have left dead forests known as ghost forests for their craggy and bleached-white appearance (pictured).

    Yet the Atlantic white cedar forests serve as efficient carbon sinks, collecting atmospheric carbon and storing it throughout the tree and in the organic peat soil that these forests generate. In addition, these forests provide unique habitat and are critical in maintaining the excellent water quality of the Pinelands as they filter, cool and slow the movement of ground water and streams.

    Atlantic white cedar (2) 9-23-2021

    The New Jersey Forest Service led a rigorous stakeholder process to identify and prioritize suitable areas for Atlantic white cedar restoration on state-owned property and has been working closely with municipalities and stakeholders since 2018. In addition to numerous municipalities, the DEP has worked with more than 60 stakeholder groups, including prominent environmental groups such as the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, and New Jersey Audubon.

    “The grand Atlantic white cedars, like the pines and oaks, have characterized the natural landscape in the Pinelands for thousands of years,” said Richard Prickett, Chairman of the New Jersey Pinelands Commission. “Early settlers depended on the rot-resistant, straight-grained wood from these trees to clad and shingle their homes, fence in their livestock, build sneakboxes and other traditional boats and decoys to hunt for migratory game. Today we again need to depend on the majestic cedars, not to build objects from their wood, but to grow wood to help remove and store the carbon dioxide that the success of our forefathers has generated. With our help, the Atlantic white cedar can once again grow abundantly in the Pinelands and benefit humanity.”

     “Restoration of Atlantic white cedar forests will fight climate change by sequestering large amounts of carbon in trees and restoring deep soil carbon in sphagnum peat for thousands of years,” said Jay Watson, Senior Director for Statewide Land Protection for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.  “Atlantic white cedar forests also provide a unique habitat for rare Pine Barrens plants and animals in need of protection. We applaud the NJDEP for these ambitious restoration efforts and look forward to working with them to advance this important project and other natural climate solutions.”

    “New Jersey Audubon supports this ambitious effort by the State, as Forest Stewardship Planning and active ecological forestry practice implementation,” said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director for NJ Audubon. “Atlantic white cedar restoration inherently provides enormous ecological uplift in a globally recognized Biosphere that is the New Jersey Pinelands.”

    “Atlantic white cedar forests are very special places, and you know it as soon as you step into one,” said Carleton Montgomery, Executive Director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. “They are quiet, sublime and magnificent. Restoring these forests on a landscape level to the Pinelands will certainly provide a great many benefits to the region’s ecological diversity. But restoring these forests will provide many intangible benefits as well, as places for people to enjoy the simple grandeur of nature for many generations to come.”

    Restoring a globally rare ecosystem

    Atlantic white cedar depends on damp and acidic soils found along rivers, streams, bogs and wetlands. Mature forests form dense stands that allow little sun to penetrate to the forest floor. This shade-shrouded ecosystem fosters growth of sphagnum-moss hummocks, liverworts, ferns, insect-eating plants, and rare orchids, some found only in the Pinelands.  In turn, this unique ecosystem supports rare animal species, such as the Pine Barrens tree frog (pictured), barred owl and timber rattlesnake. These forests filter and purify water, stabilize stream banks, store stormwater and create natural breaks that can slow or halt the spread of wildfires.

    The first phase of restoration is targeted to begin in the latter part of 2022 and encompass 2,000 acres along river headwaters in western Wharton State Forest. These areas were logged of cedars before the state acquired the land decades ago. The DEP will seek New Jersey Pinelands Commission approval for this phase of the project early next year. The DEP is also encouraging landowners to emulate the project.

    The projects will restore a more natural mix of forest types, providing habitat for a greater variety of plant and animal species. Restoration areas will vary from more than 20 acres each to parcels of several hundred acres. Priority will be given to connecting existing stands of cedars. Careful attention will be paid to conditions such as soils and hydrology. Any areas that could be impacted by saltwater from storm surge have been mapped and will be avoided.

    Stands of competing hardwoods, such as red maple and black gum, that have taken over formerly cedar-dominant areas will be removed. Areas will be regenerated using on-site remnant cedars as the seed source or, in limited instances, they will be replanted with Atlantic white cedars raised at the DEP’s Forest Nursery in Jackson. Each site will be carefully monitored and, if necessary, protected from deer browsing with fencing.

    Atlantic white cedar (4) 9-23-2021

    Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP


    The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is dedicated to protecting New Jersey’s environment and public health. The agency prioritizes addressing climate change, protecting New Jersey’s water, revitalizing its communities and managing and promoting its natural and historic resources.

    For the most recent information about the DEP, follow its Twitter feed at @NewJerseyDEP or visit

  • 08/02/2021 1:10 PM | Meredith Graban (Administrator)

    ASTM Standardization News

    It's All About Play

    The recently revised public playground standard and related surfacing standards support safer play.



    Play is children’s work, and playgrounds give kids a place where they can learn and develop skills, coordination, cooperation, imagination, and more. And in the ever-evolving marketplace, these collections of equipment are being designed and developed to allow and encourage various activities, as well as to reflect a certain look.

    Alongside this evolution, the consumer safety performance specification for playground equipment for public use (F1487) has supported children’s safety while at play for close to 30 years. A subcommittee in the consumer products committee (F15) oversees the F1487 playground standard (there’s a separate specification for backyard playground equipment) and takes the approach of furthering safety without limiting design.

    “Instead of focusing strictly on design criteria, we look at the hazards associated with each type of equipment,” says Lloyd Reese, vice president of technical product management with PlayCore. Reese works on the responsible subcommittee on playground equipment for public use (F15.29) as well as the subcommittee on playground surfacing systems (F08.63), which oversees standards for the surfaces around playgrounds. 

    Now, a revision of the F1487 playground standard has been completed, and it references additional standards for these surrounding surfaces.

    The Revision

    The subcommittee on playground equipment for public use today numbers more than 250 stakeholders — manufacturers, playground organizations, labs, academia, government agencies, and many others. They completed the F1487 revision in the spring.

    Kenneth Kutska is executive director at the International Playground Safety Institute LLC and chair of F15.29. Of the new version of the standard, he says, “These revisions help clarify changes occurring internationally within the industry. Most significantly, this version addresses performance requirements related to new equipment types introduced in the marketplace that are not covered in the existing standard.”

    Julie Boland adds, “All of these changes will help to provide today’s youth with accessible, safe, and challenging play environments.” An F15 member, Boland is vice president of credentialing and member operations at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), a network of park and recreation professionals and advocates whose work includes a worldwide playground certification program.

    Kutska notes that the F1487 changes begin at the very beginning of the standard: with the scope. “There was a basic change in the scope to clarify and alert the users of the standard that ‘clearance and use zone’ requirements related to the playground equipment and its relationship to the protective surfacing and three-dimensional space around the equipment is considered within the standard.”

    One newly expanded section of the standard addresses both fixed and flexible track or trolley rides, which can have seats or a handlebar. The standard includes factors such as speed and potential impact hazards by addressing clearance and use zones throughout the path or travel of a suspended seat. “It took about three years to finally come to consensus, but I think we have a very powerful and needed text. Getting these new requirements in this revision was important because it had gotten to the point where we were seeing many different types of these in the field,” Reese says. 

    Kutska adds, “We also added a better explanation of what the manufacturer, designer, and/or owner needs to do to verify that the playground equipment and its protective surfacing use zones comply with the minimum performance requirements of this standard.” According to the standard, the verification shall be in writing by a qualified person and be kept as part of the owner’s documentation papers, which the standard already requires.

    In allowing for designer/manufacturer innovation and appropriate documentation as already stated in the standard, a new appendix addresses this by detailing how a hazard identification and risk/benefit assessment process might be done. The appendix gives guidance and three examples about how one might go about completing this process along with information related to recommended maintenance practices for the functional life of the equipment and/or protective surfacing.

    The revised playground standard takes into account many new elements.

    New sections have been added that specifically address playground equipment installation and maintenance to clarify the responsibilities of all involved in these processes. The standard now says that installers need to indicate in writing, by a qualified person, that the work has been done according to the owner’s/manufacturer’s instructions, plans, and specifications.

    Boland summarizes: “The F1487-21 standard revisions help to provide clarity and accuracy to terms, references, and responsibilities. These modifications are meant to ensure that the scope is inclusive of clearance and use zones for the safety of users; to reflect new findings related to equipment and safety; and to assist users with hazard identification and risk/benefit assessments through a new appendix.”

    And More

    The revised standard covers the equipment itself, and it references standards for the surfaces around a playground, which form an integral part of the entire system. Standards from the F08.63 subcommittee, part of the committee on sports equipment, playing surfaces, and facilities (F08) provide further guidance on this component.

    Last year, the F08 committee completed various standards changes primarily related to F1292 for the performance requirements for playground protective surfacing. The committee also developed a new standard (F3313) for field testing protective surfacing for impact attenuation performance to surfaces installed around a playground, now referenced in F1487. The test method for determining impact attenuation of playground surfaces within the use zone of playground equipment as tested in the field (F3313) provides a uniform means to quantify how a surface responds to an impact from a falling object. That data guides the estimation of the relative risk of a head injury — in children 2 to 12 years — due to a fall. This test provides the ability to compare surface impact attenuation to the results of the three-temperature laboratory test found in the specification for impact attenuation of surfacing materials within the use zone of playground equipment (F1292).

    Another significant standard (F3351) added to the family of playground-related standards is a specified fall height laboratory test. This impact test allows for reporting HIC (head injury criteria) and g-max at specified heights lower than the critical fall height. The critical fall height is the maximum fall height from which a life threatening head injury would not be expected to occur, which is still based on the maximum impact threshold of 200 g and 1000 HIC. 

    In practice, as Reese notes, “What we’ve found is that a lot of manufacturers don’t want to market surfaces that get close to critical fall height.” This standard provides a way for manufacturers to differentiate their products and indicate how their surfacing performs at heights less than the maximum allowed.

    In total, the standards all support safer play.

    Practically Speaking

    A broad group of stakeholders uses the playground standard: playground equipment designers, landscape architects, architects, manufacturers, suppliers, planners, installers, providers, owner agencies, and maintenance technicians. And one more: inspectors.

    Boland notes, “The ASTM F1487 standard is a critical component for our Certified Playground Safety Inspector and Playground Maintenance course, but most important, it is necessary for the safety of today’s youth who will be enjoying those very playgrounds.” That program offers training in hazard identification, equipment specifications, surfacing requirements, and risk management.

    “NRPA uses this standard along with other standards and the CPSC [U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission] Handbook to certify playground safety inspectors,” Kutska adds. “They have been doing this for over 25 years and have trained approaching 100,000 participants.” That includes inspectors all over Europe and Asia, as well as North America, who have been trained through the program.

    Over the years, the F15.29 subcommittee has kept F1487’s practical use in mind as it has refined the standard. Reese says, “Because we have had the exposure to so many laypeople in using the standard, I think that we have continued to evolve it into a user-friendly document.”

    A Final Note

    “Standards such as these are necessary to ensure that children are able to safely develop their physical, intellectual, social, and emotional skills through play on playgrounds,” Boland says. “The revision of standards such as F1487 is necessary to ensure they remain relevant and current in the ever-changing world of playground equipment education, development, and innovation.” 

    The ASTM groups responsible for these standards continue to refine and revise them as new technologies and needs come up to help children play safely in a reasonably safe environment. In the end, it is all about keeping our children active and engaged in play.

    All those interested in participating are welcome. As Kutska puts it, “Our door is always open to new, interested persons regardless of their background.” 

  • 07/21/2021 8:34 AM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)


    Now designated a national recreation area, the Water Gap attracts about as many people as Yellowstone. Advocates say park status would be a boost

    Credit: (joiseyshowaa via Creative Commons; CC BY-SA 2.0)

    Late afternoon at the Delaware Water Gap

    Last month, the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club announced that it, along with the New Jersey chapter, was reviving an effort to have the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area upgraded to full national park status.

    Not a single national park sits within New Jersey, Pennsylvania or New York, and yet the three states are home to some 40 million Americans — nearly 13% of the U.S. population. Additionally, over 60 million people live within a three-hour drive of the Delaware Water Gap region.

    There are many national park “units” in the tri-state region, but they fall into other classifications and management schemes. Delaware Water Gap, as well as Gateway, are “national recreation areas,” because they were established beside bodies of water, where activities like swimming, boating and fishing can be done. The Pinelands is a “national reserve,” meaning it was created to protect certain resources and is managed jointly between local, state, federal, and private authorities. The country’s 63 “national parks,” on the other hand, are run by the National Park Service and encompass large land areas that offer many recreational opportunities in addition to the preservation of natural and cultural resources.

    Given that the Water Gap is so close to some of the country’s largest urban and suburban centers, it is no surprise that the recreation area already attracts nearly as many visitors as two of America’s most prized national parks, Yellowstone and Yosemite. In 2020 alone, the recreation area had 4.1 million visits, making it 10th in the country.

    “We have this beautiful park that’s within an hour-and-a-half drive of New York City and two hours of Philadelphia,” said John Kashwick, vice chair of Sierra Club New Jersey. “This would be an ideal location.”

    Second time around

    This isn’t the first time Kashwick and the Sierra Club’s New Jersey and Pennsylvania chapters have set out to petition Congress to elevate the recreation area to national park status.

    A decade ago, the Sierra Club received grant funding to conduct a study to determine if national park status was feasible. But, Kashwick said, the idea was ultimately scrapped, largely due to concerns from the hunting community, whose access to the recreation area would be eliminated since federal law prohibits hunting in national parks.

    “There was a lot of pushback locally,” Kashwick said. “So we kind of dropped it at that point.”

    This time around, however, the New Jersey and Pennsylvania chapters are looking to the U.S.’s newest national park, New River Gorge, in West Virginia, as a template for success. There, hunting was also a concern, so an area of the park was carved out and designated a national preserve, which permits hunting.

    “We could do the same type of model,” Kashwick said, pointing out that several national parks across the country are similarly partitioned to accommodate hunters.

    Gap facts

    Spanning 70,000 acres and straddling a 40-mile stretch of the Delaware River, from northeastern Pennsylvania across to the western edge of the Kittatinny Mountains in Warren and Sussex counties and nearly to the New Jersey–New York border, the area has been a destination for people in the region for over a century.

    In an attempt to build the Tocks Island Dam in the 1960s, homes and structures within the present-day recreation area were acquired by the Army Corps of Engineers through eminent domain — a maneuver that sparked years of fierce opposition from displaced residents and environmental groups. Ultimately, the federal government abandoned the dam project in 1978 and the land was transferred to the National Park Service.

    While there’s no minimum size requirement for obtaining national park status, the recreation area did not fit the national park ethos of the time. Such stature was reserved for the vast, undeveloped swaths of wilderness in the West, where land remained largely in the hands of the federal government and therefore was easier to acquire.

    In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the land had long been divvied up by private ownership, making parks small and expansion much more difficult.

    National parks, the ‘easy way’

    “The easy way of doing a park is you take an existing national forest or Bureau of Land Management parcel and Congress designates it as a national park,” said Kashwick. “When you actually have to pay for the land, the process becomes much more expensive, and politicians are not as likely to get onboard.”

    But today, the calculus for what constitutes a worthy national park is changing.

    Development in New Jersey, and the Northeast generally, continues to press against the region’s remaining wild spaces. At the same time, climate change is impacting nature and humans in ways unimaginable a few decades ago.

    “This is an opportunity for us to recognize that we have a valuable resource right here in the region,” said John Donahue, who was the superintendent of the recreation area between 2003 and 2017. “The recreation area and contiguous preserved lands offer a significant carbon sink, as well as form a critical corridor for species and ecosystems that are being forced to migrate by climate change.”

    Donahue, who is helping to lead the renewed effort to elevate the recreation area to national park status, said redesignation begins with getting the public’s support, then the politicians’. Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources secretary, Cindy Adams Dunn, has already expressed support for the effort, Donahue said, “and we’d love to see [New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner] Shawn LaTourette get onboard.”

    From there, a formal study that includes the National Park Service, along with stakeholders like the Sierra Club and local community organizations, must be drafted. Congressional authorization is the final step.

    Obtaining national park status, Donahue continued, would have a big impact on the recreation area’s extensive infrastructure system. Nationwide, just eight “units” account for 60% of all the infrastructure in the entire National Park Service system — the Water Gap National Recreation Area is one of them.

    Miles and miles and miles

    Donahue estimates there are a “couple hundred” miles of roads and trails in the recreation area. National parks can receive funding for infrastructure upgrades and improvements through the federal “surface transportation reauthorization” — or “highway” — bill.

    National parks also garner more investment simply because they’re more popular with the public.

    “You hear people say they want to visit every national park,” Donahue said. “You don’t hear people say they want to visit every recreation area.”

    Beyond the benefits for nature and local tourism, Kashwick said that awarding the region national-park status is also a matter of environmental and social justice. With tens of millions of people living nearby, many of them in underserved and underrepresented urban areas, an outlet to nature as prestigious as a national park only seems fair and equitable.

    “You can have a real national park experience,” he said, “without having to travel to Wyoming or Montana, California or Utah.”

  • 05/12/2021 9:40 AM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)


    ASTM International Consumer Products Committee Revises Playground Equipment Standard

    W. CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa., May 6, 2021 – ASTM International’s consumer products committee (F15) has revised its standard consumer safety performance specification for playground equipment for public use. The revisions address several developments in the playground equipment industry while providing clarification on industry terms and designations.

    Specifically, the revisions to the standard, soon to be published as F1487, include but are not limited to:

    ·   Changes and additions to the performance requirements for play equipment related to suspended hazards or suspended components, both stationary and non-stationary,

    ·   Additional appendix to address how to perform hazard identification and risk and benefit assessments,

    ·   Changes in scope to include clearance and use zone requirements related to equipment covered by the standard,

    ·   Clarification on what manufacturers, designers, and owners need in order to verify play equipment meets the minimum requirements of this standard, and

    ·   New section addressing equipment requirements specific to fixed track and flexible path of travel upper body and sitting suspended component rides.

    “These revisions help clarify changes occurring internationally within the industry,” said Kenneth Kutska, executive director at the International Playground Safety Institute, LLC. “Most significantly, this version addresses performance requirements related to new equipment types introduced in the marketplace that do not currently fall within the existing standard.”

    According to Kutska, subcommittee chair and certified playground safety inspector, these revisions will be found most useful by playground equipment designers, manufacturers, inspectors, owner agencies, and maintenance technicians.

    ASTM welcomes participation in the development of its standards. Become a member at

    About ASTM International

    Committed to serving global societal needs, ASTM International positively impacts public health and safety, consumer confidence, and overall quality of life. We integrate consensus standards – developed with our international membership of volunteer technical experts – and innovative services to improve lives… Helping our world work better.






  • 12/30/2020 9:25 AM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)

    Article from NJ Spotlight News - 

    DEP official defends land-use plan against attack by business group


    Official says state must protect public from climate change effects, rejects criticism that potential rules are ‘fundamentally flawed’

    Credit: (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

    DEP official says state has an obligation to plan for higher seas and bigger storms even if that means it will be harder to build in flood-prone areas in future. In this Oct. 30, 2012 file photo, a firehouse is surrounded by floodwaters in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in Hoboken.

    A top environmental official defended a preliminary outline of new regulations designed to better protect New Jersey’s land and property from the effects of climate change, saying the state has an obligation to plan now for higher seas and bigger storms even if that means it will be harder to build in flood-prone areas in future.

    Shawn LaTourette, deputy commissioner at the Department of Environmental Protection, said the DEP has a responsibility to extend its authority over areas that are expected to be partially or completely flooded in coming decades, according to widely accepted forecasts by climate scientists.

    In an interview with NJ Spotlight News on Tuesday, he rejected accusations by a leading business organization that the potential rules would damage the economy by making it harder to develop flood-prone areas, and are based on sea-level rise forecasts that are too far in the future to be credible now.

    LaTourette was commenting on a so-called road map that will underpin regulations on land use, as part of a process called Protecting Against Climate Threats (NJ PACT). The rules will implement an executive order by Gov. Phil Murphy and are expected to be formally proposed in spring next year.

    Ray Cantor, vice president of government relations at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association criticized the plan as “fundamentally flawed” and economically damaging.

    New flooding ‘Risk Zone’

    Among other things, the rules would establish a new Inundation Risk Zone under which significant areas of the Atlantic and Delaware Bay shores would be flooded daily or permanently by the end of century because of seas that Rutgers University scientists have forecast will be 5 feet higher than they were in 2000. By 2050, seas are predicted to rise by about 2 feet.

    In the Risk Zone, new buildings would require a “hardship exemption” under which applicants for a building permit would have to prove that there is no other reasonable use for the site and that preventing construction would constitute an exceptional and undue hardship. Existing homes in the zone would have to be elevated a foot above a new standard called the Climate Adjusted Flood Elevation (CAFÉ), while non-residential and non-critical buildings would have to be flood-proofed if elevation is impractical.

    In tidal areas, the CAFÉ standard would be 5 feet above the level set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a 100-year storm — that which is expected to occur only once in 100 years. The state is proposing the new standard to anticipate future climate effects, replacing the widely criticized federal standard that is based on a historical pattern.

    The document was presented to an online meeting of about 200 stakeholders on Dec. 22. The meeting included a presentation by the DEP’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Watershed and Land Management, Vincent Mazzei, who said the possible rule changes could increase the floodplain area to as much as 45% of the state’s land.

    Growing the floodplains

    “As a result of climate change, existing floodplains have already grown and this trend will continue,” Mazzei said in a statement released by the DEP on Tuesday. “To help New Jersey residents and businesses more effectively respond to the current and future risks of climate change, the rule amendments being developed by DEP could extend flood hazard areas by under 5 percent, bringing added protections to vulnerable areas of the state.”

    Cantor of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said, “We’re going to take an area that is not flooding now and regulate it as if it does, and prevent development in that area,” adding, “You’re going have areas that have never flooded before and may not flood in 50 years being denied permits or being told to elevate their structures.”

    He argued that the plan is “fundamentally flawed” by being based on a sea-level rise forecast by the Rutgers panel that calculates only a 17% probability of sea-level rise of 5.1 feet from the 2000 level, assuming moderate global carbon emissions.

    “We accept climate change is happening but the prediction of what’s going to happen in the future is still highly speculative,” he said. “It’s not hard science; the longer out you go, the less certain those projections are.”

    Decisions that should not be left to bureaucrats?

    What DEP appears to be proposing, Cantor argued, is a retreat from flood-prone areas like Hoboken or Atlantic City, and if any such seismic change is ever necessary, it should be required by the Legislature “rather than in a backroom by bureaucrats at the DEP.”

    But LaTourette rejected the argument that making it harder to build in future flood zones would be economically damaging. In fact, he said, property owners could enhance values if they can show that they have conformed with new rules requiring a higher degree of protection against rising waters.

    “There’s nothing about this proposal that diminishes our ability to have robust economic development; quite the contrary,” he said. “Folks in the development community can say they have a value proposition to their clients. They can say, ‘We’ve looked at the risks in the long term, and you can feel confident buying a new home from us.’”

    Despite the potential new restrictions on coastal development, the DEP will not be telling people where they can and cannot build houses, LaTourette said.

    “It does not mean, absolutely no way you can’t build in that area; it means that you have to meet certain standards,” he said. “We’re going to help people protect themselves, their assets and each other from what the future risks are.”

    He rejected the attacks by the business community, saying DEP has a responsibility to protect the whole state.

    Anticipating ‘a major battle’

    “There are some, because they are concerned with a shorter risk-profit paradigm, might think that any additional requirement is just another step too much,” he said. “But our job is to protect everyone and our natural resources, and so perpetuating an environment in which we go for the lower bar effectively displaces future risk on someone else.”

    Tim Dillingham, executive director of the New Jersey-based American Littoral Society, said the proposals in the framework document are firmly rooted in environmental laws including the Coastal Area Facility Review Act and the Flood Hazards Control Act, which give the DEP broad authority to protect public health and welfare by setting the potential new regulations.

    “The state is on very firm ground; they clearly have both the responsibility and the obligation to anticipate what flooding looks like in the future,” said Dillingham, who has participated in the DEP’s stakeholder process, and attended the Dec. 22 meeting.

    The new rules would also cover nature-based responses to climate change such as dunes to defend coastlines from higher seas, and coastal marshes to absorb their impact — both of which are examples of the measures advocated by his group, Dillingham said.

    New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel welcomed the expansion of flood zones and increased protection for wetlands proposed in the document, but predicted that the new rules will be strongly contested by parties opposing new development restrictions.

    “Any time you try to change land use in New Jersey, it’s going to be a major battle,” he said.

  • 12/03/2020 8:55 AM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)

    Article from today’s NJ Spotlight News –  American Littoral Society brings new strategy to Delaware Bayshore protection.

    * * * * * * *


    New project to combine coastal defense with natural measures to help coastal resiliency

    Looking west toward Delaware Bay over Basket Flats at the mouth of the Maurice River

    New Jersey’s efforts to defend its coasts from rising seas will take another step forward under a new plan to build breakwaters and restore marshland at the mouth of the Maurice River in Cumberland County.

    A team led by the American Littoral Society has been awarded $4.8 million in federal funds as part of a $12 million project to build some 6,600 feet of breakwaters and rock barriers that will resist storm surges while helping the shoreline to regenerate naturally after being battered by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

    The rock breakwaters are being designed as “hybrid living shorelines” that will include oyster reefs, mussel beds and plantings of marsh grass to defend a peninsula called Basket Flats — an area of coastline that lies between the Delaware Bay and the coastal towns of Bivalve and Shell Pile in Commercial Township on the west side of the river, and Leesburg and Heislerville in Maurice River Township on the east side.

    CLICK HERE to read more.

  • 12/03/2020 8:50 AM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)

    By Gabriel PopkinNov. 12, 2020 , 10:32 AM

    DELAWARE, OHIO—On a weekday morning in August, just one pickup truck sat in the sprawling visitors’ parking lot here at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Forestry Sciences Laboratory. A decadeslong decline in research funding had been slowly quieting the place—and then came the pandemic.

    But in a narrow strip of grass behind a homely, 1960s-era building, forest geneticist Jennifer Koch was overseeing a hive of activity. A team of seven technicians, researchers, and students—each masked and under their own blue pop-up tent—were systematically dissecting 3-meter-tall ash trees in a strange sort of arboreal disassembly line. Over 5 weeks, the researchers would take apart some 400 saplings, peeling wood back layer by layer in search of the maggotlike larvae of the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), the most devastating insect ever to strike a North American tree. Since the Asian beetle was first discovered in Michigan in 2002, it has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees across half the continent and caused tens of billions of dollars of damage.

    Click Here to read full article.

  • 08/05/2019 12:06 PM | Deleted user

    PRINCETON, NJ - Below is a taste of the brilliant article written by, NJRPA member and the Director of Parks and Recreation for Red Bank, Charles Hoffman. As posted on the Parks& website.

    I shake my head as I look around at a converted space that serves as a shrine to all-things parks and recreation. The walls are covered with awards and articles. Journals and research periodicals fill the spaces in between, along with pictures from successful projects throughout the country. One might think I am sitting in a university library or a college recreation room; however, I am in the research facility of a man endlessly dedicated to our industry—a true legend who has inspired thousands of individuals over the years.

    Dr. Harold Nolan’s life reads like a Hollywood movie for parks and rec professionals. His accomplishments are endless, and his story is one that newbies to the industry and even seasoned veterans can benefit from hearing. He lives and breathes parks and recreation, revealing his contagious personality and passion for the industry.

    Early Life
    It all began in Middletown, N.J. The son of a World War II veteran turned local builder, Nolan spent his early life filled with traditional recreational endeavors that most children enjoy, including baseball and basketball. He also excelled in diving and surfing (and still can be seen riding waves today). But Nolan showed the most promise in running, and this passion would serve him well throughout his life.

    As a high school runner in Monmouth County, N.J., he quickly formed a relationship with Dr. George Sheehan, a rival’s father from a nearby town. Sheehan is known as one of the godfathers of the running boom. He wrote books and countless articles on all aspects of the sport and became an enormous advocate of all-things running in the area, even serving as the medical editor for Runner’s World magazine. Sheehan took a liking to young Nolan and would regularly cram his Volkswagen with Nolan, Sheehan’s sons, Timmy and George Jr., and as many other runners as he could uncomfortably squeeze in for meets throughout New Jersey and New York. Nolan describes the legendary track guru as “certainly brilliant and yet somewhat aloof. [He was] a hard man to truly know.”

    Follow the link to enjoy more of the article: PRB Article - "A Living Legend"

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