Letter as submitted by the Director for Water Programs, Pinelands Preservation Alliance:
There have been some notable achievements recently to stem the ecological decline of Barnegat Bay. All are important, but in the end will produce little in the way of improving the Bay if they are not coupled with stronger land-use controls. Ocean County is going to continue to grow in year-round population, and the housing to meet that growth will cause even more contamination of the Bay if it is allowed to replace the surviving forests of the Bay’s watershed.
Yet right here in Ocean County we have an internationally recognized land-use model to learn from, with a proven 30 year record of growth control and associated water resources protection. It’s called the Pinelands.
The Pinelands Area accounts for 39 percent of the county. Within this vast area, 74 percent of the land has a very low zoning density. This is important, since many of the rivers that drain into the Bay originate within natural unspoiled areas of the Pinelands. As a result, water entering the Bay from the Pinelands is nearly all high quality, even though it also flows through the rampant development along the coast. The vast majority of contaminants entering the Bay are coming from the northern part of the watershed, which lies outside the Pinelands, has no regional growth controls, and is characterized by uncontrolled sprawl.
The Pinelands Commission has studied the relationships between land-use and water quality throughout the Pinelands, and the findings are clear … the more the land surface is altered by human activity such as housing developments, the greater the degradation of water quality.
The Pinelands Plan serves as a local example of the power of regional planning. If we are serious about the long-term viability of Barnegat Bay, then regional land-use controls to protect the forests, will need to be part of any successful strategy to protect the Bay.
Richard G. Bizub
Director for Water Programs
Pinelands Preservation Alliance