July 13, 2009
$10.6 mil grant to fix Lincoln Park wetlands
By Paul Takahashi
The tide is turning for the Hackensack River wetlands in Jersey City.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last week that New Jersey will receive nearly $10.6 million in federal economic stimulus funds to restore a 31-acre wetlands area in Lincoln Park. This represents the single largest grant from the federal agency through the stimulus package.
"These funds will help ensure the future of one of the Garden State's most important natural resources - our coastal wetlands," said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.
The grant comes from the $167 million in Recovery Act funds earmarked for marine and coastal habitat restoration.
In the Lincoln Park Wetland Restoration project the former landfill site will be excavated and the material will be dumped to the north, where a golf course is planned by Hudson County. About 200,000 cubic yards of sand will be brought in by the Army Corps of Engineers to cap the former landfill.
The restoration is projected to take 24 months to complete and should improve the river's ecosystem by increasing fish and bird populations.
"The river is surely but slowly getting cleaner," said Hackensack Riverkeeper Bill Sheehan. "It was written off by my father's generation as polluted."
According to Sheehan, who is 60 years old, the fish population has increased from a handful of species when he was a child to about 65 species today. Once the fish population increased, migratory birds also returned. There are now about 265 bird species in the river habitat, Sheehan said.
"This is definitely a boon for the river," he said. "It will clean up the water and provide a wildlife habitat in the middle of a dense urban city."
The NOAA estimates the grant will create between 41 to 46 full-time jobs, officials said.