Card-carrying environmentalists ask for better protection of N.J. shore

Environmental groups are urging Gov. Chris Christie to do more to protect the New Jersey shore. To make their message clear, they delivered postcards signed by more than 7,000 residents to the governor’s office.

They say Christie’s 10-point plan to protect the Barnegat Bay does not go far enough to prevent pollution.

“This delivery of postcards says that New Jerseyans actually are caring about the specific policies, and they don’t just want a blanket statement that he’s protecting the shore,” said Megan Fitzpatrick, the clean water associate with Environment New Jersey. “They want to see the strong limits on the pollution that’s going into the shore.”

Environmentalists say more than 100 beach closings this summer, a 100-mile-long algae bloom off the coast, and millions of jellyfish in the Barnegat Bay show the need for more action to control runoff pollution.

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“There’s more than a hundred million dollars worth of ratables that are directly affected by what happens to that bay,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. ” So it’s not only the businesses that are affected. It’s people’s homes and their investments that are also impacted by pollution because no one is going to buy a house at a bay that you can no longer swim in because sea nettles will attack you.”

Controlling pollution starts with better land-use regulation, said Jaclyn Rhoads, director of conservation policy for the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.

“We’ve had so many problems with sprawling development, the type of development, expanses of laws that have all this fertilizer. We need to change that mentality so that you can achieve a balance,” she said. “You can have development in certain areas, but you have to make sure it’s done right. We haven’t seen that shift in the mentality yet.”

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