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Governor’s Barnegat Bay Action Plan is a Promising First Step

December 15, 2010


Last week, Governor Christie announced a comprehensive plan to ensure a healthier ecosystem in the Barnegat Bay.  The combination of actions shows recognition of the need to view the Bay and its watershed as an integral whole if the Bay’s ecological problems are going to be solved.  They include measures to reduce pollution flowing into the Bay from “point sources” such as the Oyster Creek Power Plant, as well as from developed land, including runoffs of stormwater, fertilizer and construction site soil.  (Kudos go to the Legislature as well; the Governor’s plan builds on a complementary package of bills to protect the Barnegat Bay that the Legislature has been working on since last spring.)

Other measures would limit new development all together, through purchasing land for preservation, and also presumably by coordinating land use planning through a “Special Area Management Plan” or SAMP. 

Depending on how it is implemented, the SAMP could ensure that new development is designed appropriately and occurs in locations that don’t degrade the Barnegat Bay.  This would require some form of enforcement mechanism to control land use change in the watershed; otherwise, gains in the Bay could be undermined by continuing sprawl development.   Not much is known yet about what the SAMP will involve, except that it will: “be developed in collaboration with members of the Barnegat Bay Partnership and other planning authorities in the region.  Its primary goal will be to improve coordination among planning jurisdictions.” 

The Barnegat Bay Action Plan is a welcome first step, but especially when it comes to the Special Area Management Plan, the devil (or perhaps the angel) will be in the details!

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