Poor coastal planning makes N.J. vulnerable as climate changes, study finds

This Feb. 22, 2013 file photo shows two heavily damaged homes on the beach in Mantoloking, N.J., from Superstorm Sandy. (Mel Evans/AP Photo, file)

This Feb. 22, 2013 file photo shows two heavily damaged homes on the beach in Mantoloking, N.J., from Superstorm Sandy. (Mel Evans/AP Photo, file)

New Jersey’s lack of strong coastal policies and planning will continue to make the state vulnerable to climate change, sea level rise, and extreme weather events, according to a report issued by an international nonprofit environmental advocacy organization.

The Surfrider Foundation’s 2018  “State of the Beach Report Card” has given the state a failing grade for its “inadequate protection of coastal communities and resources.”

It’s the worst score compared to nearby states: Delaware (C), Maryland (B), New York (C+). The other states that received a failing grade include Indiana and Ohio (Great Lakes coastline) and Georgia.

The report says that New Jersey coastal towns are “making individual land use decisions without stringent permitting requirements and monitoring plans,” adding that “coastal preservation has taken a back seat” leaving “62,000 homes and properties at risk to sea level rise by 2045.”

The state has received a score of “bad” (the lowest after “ok” and “good”) for sediment management, coastal armoring, development, and sea rise.

Among the numerous recommendations, the reports says the state should reduce the reliance on sand replenishment, utilize other methods of beach replenishment, improve rebuilding standards after storms, prohibit new development in known hazard areas, and establish managed retreat policies.

Jon Miller, a coastal engineering professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, told NJ 101.5 that the failing grade is “quite harsh.”

He says the state has been improving coastal resilience, “especially since Sandy,” according to the radio station report.

New Jersey began working on a “Coastal Resilience Plan” in October to protect a regional backbone in addressing climate change and extreme weather impacts instead of more isolated, localized efforts.

The plan seeks to reduce risks from flooding, improve awareness and understanding, create consistent guidance, and make adaption easier.

The state held a summit at Monmouth University in October that brought together officials, environmental leaders, and coastal experts to begin the planning process.

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