Christie Administration Reminds Public to be Cautious as Wildfire Season Gets Under Way
With spring wildfire season getting under way, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service urged the public to exercise extra caution when outdoors.
“It is very important at this time of year to be extra mindful of steps you can take to reduce the chance of wildfires,” said State Forester Lynn Fleming. “Wildfire risks increase at this time of year because weather conditions tend to be dry and windy. At the same time, the forest canopy has not leafed out, allowing the sun and wind to dry leaf litter and debris on the forest floor that can act as tinder for larger wildfires.”
Wildfire risk is currently rated as high in southern and central New Jersey and as moderate in northern New Jersey. Risks will likely increase this week due to a forecast for increasing temperatures and continued dry conditions.
So far this year the New Jersey Forest Fire Service has responded to 230 wildfires that have burned 293 acres, compared with 461 fires that burned 1,994 acres during the same period last year.
Over the past weekend, 42 wildfires were reported across New Jersey, burning 182 acres. The largest, in an extremely remote section of Wharton State Forest in Burlington County that burned more than 150 acres over the weekend, is under investigation. The Forest Fire Service continues to work on the fire and expects the final acreage burned to be higher.
The Forest Fire Service also responded to a number of smaller brush fires in northern New Jersey on Monday, April 8.
Ninety-nine percent of all wildfires in New Jersey are caused by human activity, usually carelessness, negligence or arson. The Forest Fire Service works to prevent wildfires year-round through public outreach and education efforts, prescribed burning operations, and maintenance of fire breaks.
Wildfire risks increase with every new structure built in or adjacent to forests. Wildfires can spread quickly in New Jersey, threatening homes, property, natural resources and human lives, yet most are preventable.
Follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of fires:
For more information on wildfires and fire safety, visit www.njwildfire.org.
Christie Administration Gears Up for Busy Recreational Fishing and Boating Season Along the Jersey Shore; Last of Recreational Advisories Lifted for Raritan Bay
With recreational fishing and boating season getting into gear, the Christie Administration released a “Jersey Shore Open for Boating” fact sheet and flier to educate the public on having a safe time on the water.
“Governor Christie and I are committed to ensuring that our coastal communities are open for tourism and recreation this season after all our state has been through because of Superstorm Sandy,” said NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin.
“We have come a long way. Marinas and charter fishing operations are gearing up for the season , and water quality is excellent,” Commissioner Martin said. “We want everyone to know that New Jersey’s waterways are open for your enjoyment. We just ask you to use common sense and caution as cleanup continues.”
“The waterways in some areas may be very different than before Superstorm Sandy, and boaters need to be aware of obstacles and adjust their speed accordingly for safety,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Everyone is reminded to be mindful of their surroundings and always follow commonsense measures, such as wearing personal flotation devices.”
“The companies cleaning up the coast are doing a great job. The Governor is on top of it,” said Fred Brueggemann, incoming president of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey. “We know that Barnegat Bay has been a priority of his since he took office long before the storm. We look forward to working with the NJDEP and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to ensure a wonderful boating season.”
The NJDEP continues to monitor water quality along the entire coastline, with all test results meeting recreational use standards. The NJDEP recently lifted the recreational fishing and boating advisory in place for Raritan Bay since Superstorm Sandy hit at the end of October. As a result, all recreational use advisories have now been lifted across the state.
The NJDEP will continue to work with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) as well as county and local health agencies to ensure protection of water quality and the safety of the public now and into the summer season. Recreational bathing beaches will be thoroughly monitored, with any closings posted on the NJDEP’s website at www.njbeaches.org
State contractors under the direction of the NJDEP have been focusing on removing debris from bays, channels, rivers, inlets and other coastal waters since the beginning of March, removing pieces of structures, docks, bulkheads, boats, and cars. Priority is being given to areas that pose a threat to public safety and the environment or impede
The NJDEP is working with the NJDOT, the Marine Services Bureau of the State Police, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, and municipalities to assess boating safety as cleanup progresses.
The NJDOT has been doing sonar surveys and marking areas where debris is to be removed from state navigation channels. The Army Corps of Engineers has also been working on clearing the Intracoastal Waterway of debris.
“Our focus during waterway debris removal remains on public safety,” Commissioner Martin said. “While this work is ongoing, it is imperative that boaters be particularly attentive while out on the water.”
Boaters should travel at slower speeds, always wear personal flotation devices and stay tuned to Channel 16 for public safety alerts. They are advised that some navigation channels may have shifted or become shoaled. Anyone observing floating or submerged debris should report this to the DEP at 1-877-WARNDEP.
Christie Administration Issues Mold Guidance for New Jersey Residents Recovering From Superstorm Sandy
The NJDOH released a Mold Guidelines for New Jersey Residents pamphlet created to provide direction to residents on addressing mold in homes in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. In addition, the NJDOH is announcing a series of training classes in cooperation with the UMDNJ School of Public Health to assist homeowners, volunteers and public health and building code officials in mold removal and assessment.
“As New Jersey recovers and rebuilds from Superstorm Sandy, mold and its remediation may become a significant issue for many New Jersey residents,” said Mary E. O’Dowd, New Jersey Health Commissioner. “Although molds are common in our environment, mold may become a problem when it grows inside homes. These guidelines were developed to better inform homeowners on how to ensure their homes are cleaned and remediated properly to avoid mold problems now and in the future.”
Molds can cause staining of walls and ceilings and can affect building components causing property damage. Exposure to mold can cause nasal and throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation.
The pamphlet addresses a number of topics including mold-related health concerns, how to inspect for mold and tools and techniques for clean-up. For example:
Read the full release on the Governor’s Office website.
Christie Administration Takes Emergency Action to Expedite Recovery and Rebuilding Projects for Sandy Affected New Jerseyans
As part of its ongoing commitment to helping New Jersey’s communities recover and rebuild from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, the Christie Administration took action to streamline state permits for various types of vital rebuilding projects, a move that will aid reconstruction of impacted homes and businesses, assist the recovery of marinas and shellfish industries, help make coastal areas more resilient in future storms, and expedite dredging of storm-impacted private lagoons and marinas.
Through emergency rules filed with the Office of Administrative Law, the NJDEP is eliminating unnecessary red tape by enabling various types of projects to proceed under less cumbersome permit procedures, including permits by rule and general permits. At the same time, the processes put in place will not compromise protection of coastal resources and will help ensure the rebuilding of a more resilient New Jersey coastline.
“Rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy is one of the greatest challenges New Jersey has ever faced,” NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “The Christie Administration is committed to taking every step possible to help our communities become stronger than ever from this historic storm, including eliminating unnecessary red tape that would needlessly impede the important work ahead. These common sense changes will make it easier for our residents and businesses to continue on the road to recovery while ensuring continued protection of natural resources.”
These important changes will help property owners, businesses and municipalities rebuild more efficiently by eliminating or reducing time needed for DEP reviews. It will also save them fees and costs associated with more complex permit requirements.
The activities regulated by the simplified permit process are for reconstruction activities that are occurring largely on the same footprint or involve minimal additional environmental impacts. In many cases, this rule proposal will provide significant environmental benefits and better prepare coastal communities for future storms. For example, in advance of the impending 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, the rule proposal allows for use of permits by rule for necessary beach and dune maintenance.
Permits by rule recognize that the projects being undertaken are minor in scope and have no environmental impact.
Immediately after the storm, the Christie Administration took swift action to ease red tape for local governments that needed to make emergency repairs to public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, bulkheads and culverts. The Administration more recently adopted a permit by rule process for property owners who rebuild to new statewide elevation standards in flood hazard zones.
Now the Administration is taking decisive action to help businesses and residents more easily get through the NJDEP’s regulatory process for a variety of other projects through amendments to Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) and Waterfront Development Act rules. NJDEP’s environmental standards will remain in place and will be enforced.
Specifically, the emergency rules enhance coastal protection by:
The emergency amendments will expedite the rebuilding of residential and commercial structures by:
The rules also provide flexibility to allow marinas and other small businesses to enhance their operations without coming to NJDEP by:
The emergency rules also contain provisions to aid the recovery of the shellfish/aquaculture industry by:
Finally, the rules expedite dredging after a storm event for which the Governor has declared a State of Emergency, by:
The emergency rule will be effective for 60 days. The emergency rule contains a concurrent rule proposal which will be open for public comment for 30 days. A public hearing on the final rule will be held May 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Long Branch Municipal Building, 344 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ 07740.
Following the comment period, the NJDEP will respond to public comments with the goal of adopting the final rule at the expiration of the emergency rule.
For a copy of the emergency rule, including details on how to provide comments, please visit this website.
For information on statewide elevation standards, visit this website.
A copy of the NJDEP’s statement of imminent peril can be obtained through the press office.