STATE — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded nearly $640,000 to the New Jersey Pinelands Commission and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to better protect wetlands throughout the state.
“Wetlands provide enormous environmental benefits, such as serving as essential habitats for fish and wildlife and reducing many of the effects of climate change,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Wetlands reduce and filter runoff that pollutes local waterways, and control flooding by absorbing rain and waters from melting snow. This EPA funding will enhance the ability to assess and protect New Jersey’s wetlands.”
The Pinelands Commission will use a $361,317 EPA grant to identify wetlands throughout the New Jersey Pinelands and determine the age, size, structure, and surrounding forest, soil, and land-use for each. Under the grant, the commission will monitor water quality and quantity in the wetlands. The commission will also sample vegetation, frogs and fish in 100 wetlands at which the surrounding land is being used for a variety of purposes such as residential developments, farms or parks. In addition, the commission will analyze samples of tadpoles and their food sources for pathogens and pesticides. The New Jersey Pinelands Commission will contribute $120,439 towards the total cost of this project.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will use a $278,551 grant to develop a program for the agency’s New Jersey Environmental Management System database that will incorporate and process data on wetland mitigation. This will improve NJDEP’s ability to track and monitor wetlands mitigation practices across the state. NJDEP will contribute $92,850 towards the total cost of this project.
Since 1990, EPA’s Wetland Program Development Grants have provided financial assistance to help build or refine state and local government wetland programs. These funds provide opportunities for states to conduct research and help build the science behind comprehensive wetlands programs at the state level. Recipients of these grants are required to contribute a minimum of 25 percent of the cost of the project.