(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Nelson Albano and Robert Andrzejczak (both D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland) to create a State Beach Task Force to investigate the current condition of New Jersey’s beaches was released Monday by an Assembly panel.
“Being able to clearly understand what our beaches do for our state will enable us to better protect them and preserve them, while getting the maximum benefit for residents and tourists, especially after Sandy,” said Albano. “Our beaches are vital cogs in our economic engine. Let’s ensure their long-term viability as we focus on job creation and economic growth.”
The bill (A-1892) would establish a 17-member State Beach Task Force to investigate the current status of New Jersey’s beaches.
The task force would study beach erosion and beach replenishment issues, and consider funding, available shore protection and preservation technologies, and the impact of the state’s beaches on the state and local economy. The task force would also investigate the steps other states and countries are taking to address beach erosion issues and evaluate other available policies and technologies for the protection and preservation of beaches.
“Our beaches are vital to the economic well-being of our coastal communities, more now than ever as they try to bounce back from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy,” said Andrzejczak. “The more we know about the health of our beaches, the better we can protect them, which not only benefits these coastal communities, but the state as a whole.”
The task force would consist of 17 members as follows: the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, or the commissioner’s designee; the Director of the Division of Travel and Tourism in the Department of State, or the director’s designee; the director of The Center for Maritime Systems at Stevens Institute of Technology, or the director’s designee; two members of the Senate appointed by the President of the Senate; two members of the General Assembly appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly; and 10 public members.
The public members of the task force would be: one representative of the academic community with expertise, knowledge, or experience in coastal or ocean ecosystems and habitat; one representative of an environmental organization with expertise, knowledge, or experience in coastal or ocean ecosystems and habitat; two representatives of coastal municipalities; one representative of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey; one representative of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce; one representative of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority; one representative of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce; one representative of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau; and one representative of the New Jersey Travel Industry Association.
The task force is also directed to call upon the United States Army Corps of Engineers and request the participation of a representative from that agency to serve on the task force, as a non-voting member, to provide information on the current status of beach replenishment projects in the State as well as information regarding actions taken by other states concerning shore protection.
The bill requires the Governor to appoint the public members within 30 days after enactment and the task force to organize as soon as practicable after the appointment of its members. Upon request, primary staff support would be provided from the Department of Environmental Protection.
The task force would submit a final report, including its findings, conclusions, and recommendations, to the Governor and the Legislature within one year after its organization. Copies of the report would be free of charge and provided to the public upon request, and the report would be posted on the DEP’s website.
The bill was released by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee chaired by Albano.