Van Drew Overcomes Bureaucratic Objections to Help Local Governments in Cape May County Move Forward with Life-Saving Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, Improving Wildlife Habitat and Saving Taxpayers Millions

November 5, 2019
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 4, 2019
CONTACT – Mackenzie Lucas 1(202) 225-6572

Congressman Jeff Van Drew announces a fix to a 2016 objection from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that made it cost prohibitive for local towns to conduct a beach renourishment project that protects life and property from flood and coastal storm damage. The project impacts Avalon, Stone Harbor and North Wildwood. The 2016 objection by the Service, a sudden and unexpected reversal of policy, had stalled the critical renourishment project, leaving residents vulnerable, due to the expected cost increase of over $6.5 million. This fix to the erroneous 2016 Service objection is the culmination of Van Drew’s tireless efforts throughout the year to remediate this situation.

“The goals of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) are worthy goals, but in the case of the “Stone Harbor Project,” CBRA was creating unnecessary red tape that was having the opposite effect of its original intent,” said Rep. Van Drew. “This decision by Sec. Bernhardt proves that we can still come together in a bipartisan fashion  and seek common-sense solutions to improve the lives of Americans.” 

The CBRA was passed in 1982 to prohibit federal financial assistance for development on coastal barriers with the goals to minimize the loss of life and property, reduce wasteful expenditures and protect our natural resources. In 1996, however, the Service granted an exception to the U.S. Army Corps to use sand from a borrow area located at Hereford Inlet in Coastal Barrier Resources System Unit NJ-09 for a flood and coastal storm damage reduction project called the New Jersey Shore Protection, Townsends Inlet to Cape May Inlet. This project not only protects the coastline from storm damage, but it created more than one mile of critical habitat at Stone Harbor Point for a variety of migratory birds. Over the years, this borrow site has been used to renourish the Stone Harbor coastline three times.

“The Trump Administration is committed to protecting our coastlines and utilizing our available resources to restore, enhance or stabilize our beaches consistent with the law Congress wrote,” said U.S Secretary David Bernhardt.  “Today’s notification clarified our understanding of the crystal clear direction provided by Congress decades ago.”

“Thanks to the efforts of all three communities, as well as our Congressman, we finally have a permanent, common-sense solution to this matter,” said Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi.  “Secretary Bernhardt came to the meeting with a full understanding of our issue and was quick to point out that the federal statute has exceptions that apply to Hereford Inlet.  Avalon is grateful that the sand supply in the Inlet can be used for protection of our sister communities, Stone Harbor and North Wildwood, while Townsend’s Inlet remains as a sand supply for Avalon’s beaches.”

 “This relief provided by Secretary Bernhardt effectuated by our meetings with Congressman Van Drew is exactly what our three communities have been seeking for years,” said Stone Harbor Mayor Judy Davies-Dunhour.  “Stone Harbor Point is now an ecological asset, created only by previous beach fill efforts.  Now we can continue to preserve the Point as an ecological treasure while at the same time using sand in the Inlet for the protection of our communities for many years to come.”
 
“North Wildwood can no longer be neglected for essential beach restoration projects thanks to the efforts of our three communities, our Congressman, and Secretary Bernhardt,” said North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello.  “This is a perfect example of government working together on all levels to eliminate an interpretation of a federal statute that has always provided the relief that our communities have been seeking for many years.”

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