Op-Ed: Preservation of Barnegat Bay a Top Priority
During my brief tenure in Congress I have already established a clear record as a strong supporter of land conservation in southern New Jersey, and a fierce protector of Barnegat Bay. One of my first votes in Congress was to make permanent the tax deduction for the charitable contributions of conservation easements. This will provide an incentive for people living within the Barnegat Bay watershed to donate land for conservation purposes. Additionally, I cosponsored both the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act and the reauthorization of the National Estuaries Program. The National Estuaries Program provides funding to help restore the 28 imperiled bays around the country, including Barnegat Bay, and the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act supports a comprehensive plan to preserve the Delaware River Basin.
Earlier this year I also joined a number of my colleagues in urging Congress to provide robust funding for both The Land and Water Conservation Fund and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. These programs have been invaluable in preserving land surrounding both Barnegat Bay and the Pinelands, and deserve the strong support of Congress.
The preservation of Barnegat Bay is one of my top priorities in Congress. I recently introduced legislation, with support from Congressmen Frank LoBiondo and Chris Smith, to help improve the Barnegat Bay watershed in new and innovative ways. Our legislation is called the Save Our Bays Act, and has earned the endorsement of the American Littoral Society. This bill provides incentives for every person and small business that wants to help improve the condition of Barnegat Bay. It provides up to $3,000 in tax credits to develop and implement plans to address non-point source pollution coming from their properties. One of the biggest issues with the bay’s health is fertilizer and other pollutants running off of private property into the Bay which contributes to algae blooms. I believe this bill is our opportunity to finally give all of our residents living within the bay’s watershed the ability to make a real difference.
As an Ocean County resident and active boater, I have seen firsthand just how much beauty and value Barnegat Bay provides to Ocean County. I understand the issues that Barnegat Bay faces and believe that the best way to address these problems is through empowering our citizens to make a difference in their own backyards. I am also committed to doing all I can here in Washington to help. If given the right tools and supported by government, the people of New Jersey will rise to the challenge to help turn the corner and improve the Bay so it will be available to enjoy for generations to come.