On Feb. 10, The Pew Charitable Trusts submitted a letter applauding and offering recommendations to bolster the New Jersey Departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture’s recently released joint Natural and Working Lands Strategy Scoping Document. Pew praised the scoping document’s focus on protecting and restoring coastal habitats—including wetlands, seagrass, and shellfish reefs—that sequester and store carbon; serve as natural defenses against erosion, sea level rise, and flooding; and support biodiversity and culturally and economically valuable human activities.
Pew was also encouraged that the scoping document highlighted the need to fund equity programs and address air and water pollution in disproportionately affected communities. And to help advance those goals, the letter recommended that the state build additional collaborative partnerships. Specifically, Pew urged New Jersey to include the state’s Commission on American Indian Affairs, which connects with Tribes and state and federal governments, in any future Natural and Working Lands Strategy. The letter also encouraged state agencies to consider working with the Department of Defense, which oversees more than 70,000 acres in the state, to identify and pursue opportunities for greater conservation.