WINNING BACK THE JERSEY SHORE
Senator Bob Smith
A great migration is taking place. This is a seasonal journey that has been going on for more than a century. Thousands of New Jerseyans will begin to leave work early on Fridays to cram onto Route 9, Route 18 and the Garden State Parkway. From Sandy Hook to Cape May, we leave our homes and jobs and go to the 127 mile strip of pristine white sand known collectively as “The Jersey Shore.”
Sunbathing, swimming, surfing, dining and boating are just a few of the ways to have fun at our beaches. Hundreds of species of wildlife inhabit the coastal communities and thrive in nature preserves such as Island Beach State Park. The New Jersey shore is not only a recreational destination for hundreds of thousands of people, but a strong part of the state economy as well. Last year, tourists spent nearly $16 billion at oceanside resorts, employing hundreds of thousands of people.
New Jersey’s beaches have not always been carefree playgrounds for the young and young at heart. Through the 1970s and 1980s, garbage and medical waste began washing ashore in ever-increasing quantities. Not only was the ocean water polluted, but beach goers had to be mindful not to step on buried hypodermic needles. During the summer of 1988 alone, floating debris and unhealthy levels of bacteria resulted in 855 ocean and bay beach closings.
This began to change in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Local communities, in partnership with the state and federal government, launched a serious campaign to take back our beaches. We banned ocean dumping, regulated the safe disposal of medical waste, litigated against New York to clean up the operation of the Fresh Kills landfill, and enacted strong oil spill prevention legislation. Most importantly, we invested seven billion dollars in upgrading our sewage treatment plants.
As a result, you can see dolphins enjoying New Jersey’s surf as well as our citizens. So...enjoy New Jersey’s beaches this summer. You have earned it through your concern for a clean environment and your willingness to invest New Jersey tax dollars in one of our greatest assets - our fabulous beaches.
For current summer beach information, visit www.nj.gov/travel or call (609) 777-0885.
Bob Smith is a State Senator representing Piscataway, New Brunswick, Highland Park, Franklin Township, North Brunswick and Milltown. He is a member of the Senate Environment and Judiciary Committees and has served as a member of the legislature since 1986.