TRENTON – The 2024 state budget that Gov. Phil Murphy signed June 30 includes a $50 million allocation for the Shore Protection Fund.
Shore communities have argued for years that the amount dedicated to the Shore Protection Fund needed to be increased over the $25 million it has received annually for over two decades. The $50 million in the 2024 budget represents a high point in state support for the fund since the passing of the Shore Protection Stable Funding Act in 1994.
A federal, state, and local beach restoration program emerged in the 1980s and expanded into the engineered beaches and periodic replenishment efforts that Cape May County enjoys today. The Shore Protection Fund is where the state gets the monies for its contribution to replenishment and restoration projects.
Some environmental groups have been critical of the replenishment efforts, arguing that managed retreat from the shoreline is a more reasonable approach given rising seas levels and more frequent major storms. The Surfrider Foundation says, “The whole process is simply unsustainable.”
Supporters argue that the projects increase protection for people and property while also allowing the state to benefit from the tourist economy that beaches make possible.
Beach replenishment may be a Sisyphean task (a task that is impossible to complete), absorbing millions in state, federal, and local tax dollars, but it is a repetitive task that New Jersey appears willing to continue, even at a higher rate of funding.