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Barnegat Bay Listening Session Addresses Concerns Over Bay’s Future

Barnegat Bay
Photo Ilya Hemlin Townsquare Media NJ

A hundred different opinions all came together Tuesday night in Toms River for a brainstorming session with one singular purpose—help restore the health of the Barnegat Bay.

A dozen different environmental, civic, and other groups held the listening session in Mancini Hall in the Toms River Branch of the Ocean County library drawing a standing room only crowd to come and share their concerns and ideas for the estuary.

Tim Dillingham with the American Littoral Society– one of the hosts of the event– gave the opening presentation before the floor was open to conversation from the public.  He notes the importance of the meeting was to take the ideas, suggestions, and concerns the public had and use it to guide the advocacy of the groups.

Dillingham referenced Governor Christie’s and the DEP’s 10 Point Plan to Restore Barnegat Bay, noting the importance of the plan’s priority of reducing the nitrogen runoff caused from fertilizer and other common products.

However many people in attendance felt the governor’s actions haven’t been enough.

crowd 1
Photo Ilya Hemlin Townsquare Media NJ

“What the governor is doing is bowing to the builders and commercial interests and the DEP.” Says Toms River resident Barbara Shoppa.

Groundwater management through responsible landscaping was a primary topic of conversation, with many residents of Toms River, Seaside Heights, and Long Beach Island stressing the amount of individual good a properly designed lawn can do for the health of the Bay.

On a larger scale, advocates like Jeff Tittell of the Sierra Club and Janet Tauro New Jersey Environmental Federation urged residents to reach out to elected officials, noting the pressure needs to be put on local, county, state, and ultimately federal government.

While many in the crowd were in favor of more regulation against what they believed to be environmentally detrimental practices, some argued for less government interference and more research on what causes the problem at its core.

Phillip Stole of Bayville believes the problems that people are facing with the Barnegat Bay can be resolved with “the work of good intentioned people”. He spoke in support of less government interference in the matter, instead supporting a study to be conducted which would hold all parties accountable.

crowd 2
Photo Ilya Hemlin Townsquare Media NJ

“People still need their space, people still need to come down and recreate, and I don’t want to pay more taxes. I think plenty of taxes are being paid. Manage everything better and I think it’s doable.”

Dillingham says this will be the first in a series of future meetings that will continue to gather the opinions and suggestions of the public.

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