The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded nearly $530,000 to the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to protect wetlands throughout the state.
“Wetlands provide enormous environmental benefits, and help alleviate harmful effects of climate change, such as protecting against flooding and potentially dangerous storm surges,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “By protecting and restoring wetlands, we are also protecting the habitat of fish and wildlife.”
The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission will use a $215,000 EPA grant to measure contaminant levels in the sediment at the bottom of tidal marshes in the Meadowlands and in the organisms living in those sediments. The Commission will also look at the number and variety of plants and animals living in certain marsh areas previously studied in 1999-2000.
Using this information, the Meadowlands Commission will determine if animals using the Meadowlands have responded to improvements in water and habitat quality, and whether they are negatively affected by contaminant levels. The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission will contribute $79,028 towards the total cost of this project.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will use a $204,000 grant to study wetland sediments to provide information on historical conditions and to assess the impact of human activities and climate change on coastal wetlands in New Jersey.
By providing background on how marshes have responded to stressors in the past, this information will be valuable in the establishment of future restoration efforts. The DEP will contribute $67,983 towards the total cost of this project.
In addition, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will use a $110,000 grant to develop a comprehensive “living shoreline” program for New Jersey. Living shoreline projects use environmental components such as plants, shellfish, sediments, sand and rock rather than hard structures.
Living shoreline projects are designed to increase the amount of sediments and the growth of marsh plants to enhance shoreline resiliency against storm surge and sea level rise.