CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, NJ— The call to increase beach replenishment funding to $50 million is being supported by an online petition sponsored by the Jersey Shore Partnership. The Cape May County Chamber of Commerce supports this initiative and asks that all Cape May County residents and businesses sign this petition by visiting www.capemaycountychamber.com.
Beach replenishment funding in the amount of $25 million (annually) began in 1991 after the devastating 1991 “Halloween” storm in order to insure that state and federal funding would be available to protect New Jersey’s 127 miles of coastal shoreline. This effort to increase funding to $50 million recognizes that coastal protection must include back bays, barrier islands, and inland waterways. “Sandy” changed the footprint of New Jersey’s coastal areas and awakened the critical need to be proactive, not reactive, in preparing for future storms. Wide beaches and dunes protect homes and properties but future storm protection must also address rivers, streams, and back bay waterways.
According to Steve Morey representing the Chamber’s Environment & Legislative Committee, “beach protection and replenishment is without a doubt, Cape May County’s most critical issue. It affects our quality of life, tourism driven economy, employment opportunities, and uniquely fragile eco-system.”
New Jersey’s coastal counties, including the Delaware Bay contribute over $20 billion of the state’s $42 billion tourism industry, according to the 2014 New Jersey Tourism Economic Impact report. The Cape May County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors adopted a resolution in support of legislation that would raise beach replenishment funding to $50 million (A4215/S2775) citing that, “Beach replenishment protects life and property and is critically important to 1.5 million migratory shorebirds, the commercial fishing industry, recreational fishing, clamming, and crabbing. Additionally, the Shore Protection Program must preserve the vital coastal resources of New Jersey and maintain safe and navigable waterways through the state. The current amount of $25 million is insufficient to meet current and anticipated future matching fund requirements by the federal government.”