Salt Marsh Restoration in Tuckerton/Little Egg Harbor Has Funding Gap to FixFederal Grant Request Denied
The consulting firm that is shepherding the marsh restoration project proposed for Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor must now look to other sources for filling a funding gap of approximately $750,000.
During a monthly update conference call to local officials, Matthew Brener of BRS Inc. said the project did not get a $745,008 National Ocean and Aeronautics Administration Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency grant for which they had applied.
Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor are designated for a pilot project for “thin layer deposition” of dredge material on salt marsh. The project is subsidized by a $2.1 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, obtained for the two towns by the nonprofit New Jersey Future after Superstorm Sandy.
T&M Associates, the engineering firm for Little Egg Harbor Township, is doing the engineering.
BRS is still waiting to hear if a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Nonpoint Source Pollution Control grant will be forthcoming. “BRS and New Jersey Future are continuing to discuss additional funding opportunities with NJDEP,” Brener said.
The plan is to construct a Living Shoreline Project adjoining Iowa Court and Great Bay Boulevard, a bayfront in Little Egg Harbor that was hit hardest during Sandy.
The scope of the marsh restoration project includes dredging areas of Mystic Island and Osborn Island lagoons in Little Egg Harbor, lagoon areas in Tuckerton Beach, and the length of Thompson Creek in Tuckerton and depositing the dredge materials over marshland.
According to a BRS Inc. report in November, “The funding gap has been created by the unexpected engineering and construction costs due to additional permitting requirements being imposed by the state and federal regulators due to the innovative marsh restoration techniques. The techniques include the construction of approximately 100,000 square feet of living shoreline and the use of thin layer deposition in marsh areas spanning almost 200 acres. The additional permitting requirements include significant additional environmental characterization in the restoration areas ($351,528), stringent dredging and fill construction techniques ($360,000), and up to five years of post-construction monitoring ($53,595).”
In November, representatives from the DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers had determined that two sites off Great Bay Boulevard, – as well as three islands, including Crab Island (site of the former menhaden fish factory) – were most in need of replenishment. All of the areas are within the Great Bay Wildlife Management Area and owned by the state.
During the Jan. 11 conference call, Brener said he, an ecologist from the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Barnegat Bay Partnership, and Jason Worth of T&M Associates, joined with Ken Able, director of the Rutgers Marine Field Station, to inspect the marshes adjoining Great Bay Boulevard. That afternoon, the ecologist was able to retrieve some previous information about Area 2 – 42 acres of distressed marsh that are being proposed for restoration.
T&M Associates is moving forward with the permit applications for the dredging/living shoreline/thin-layer deposition work. The engineer expects the applications will be ready for submission by second week of February.
The timeline still shows the beginning of construction at the end of the in-water prohibition period (for winter flounder migration) in June 2017.
— Pat Johnson