NOAA Administrator Visits Office of Response and Restoration Projects in New Jersey
MARCH 28, 2022 — On Thursday, March 24, the Office of Response and Restoration hosted NOAA Administrator Richard Spinrad, at two project sites in northern New Jersey.
Joined by Scott Lundgren, OR&R director, the trip was an opportunity to showcase our work in the fields of restoration and marine debris and describe our multiple roles related to pollution and emergencies. It also provided the opportunity to highlight the various ways OR&R supports equitable delivery of services to underserved communities.
Spinrad first visited Lincoln Park, a 42-acre tidal wetland restoration project that transformed a large tract of land adjacent to the Hackensack River from an abandoned, overgrown, and heavily used park to a tidal salt marsh with trails and educational signage for the community. The $17 million of funding for this project came from multiple funding streams including $10.6 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $2.3 million from the BT Nautilus oil spill natural resources damage settlement, and $800,000 from other state of New Jersey pollution settlement funds. In addition to the project’s substantial ecological benefits, it provides much needed public access to the river for the first time in decades.
Lincoln Park is just one example of the NOAA Damage Assessment, Remediation and Restoration Program’s work on multiple natural resource damage cases in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. These cases allow NOAA to continue our work with urban communities to improve the environment as well as increase public access and awareness about the importance of these urban estuaries.
Spinrad then traveled to Hoboken, New Jersey to learn more about a Marine Debris Program removal grant project, which will remove 14 abandoned and derelict vessels from Weehawken Cove. Standing along the cove and overlooking the Manhattan skyline, participants had a firsthand view of legacy marine debris protruding from the water, highlighting the problem these vessels present nationwide. Abandoned and derelict vessels obstruct navigation, damage sensitive habitats, and diminish commercial and recreational activities.
Spinrad was joined by Ravi Bhalla, mayor of Hoboken, along with additional leadership from the City of Hoboken and the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program of the Hudson River Foundation. Removal of these vessels in the cove is the first step in a broad resiliency effort the city is undertaking in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, including implementing nature-based climate solutions such as living shorelines.