WASHINGTON – Late Dec. 20, the House approved a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd) to reauthorize the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail, which has attracted millions of tourists and residents to South Jersey for four decades, according to a release. The vote was 382-9.
“The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail incorporates some of the state’s most popular destinations, providing additional support to local businesses and communities that rely on tourism dollars. Furthermore, it provides a sense of pride for local residents. Put simply, this legislation is about tourism, local economic opportunities and our state’s shared history,” stated LoBiondo.
“I was proud to work on this legislation with (the late) Sen. (Frank) Lautenberg for many years as we recognized the importance to many communities. The success of the trail is due to the public-private partnerships that have developed to support it.
“By extending the federal authorization for the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail, we allow additional public and private investment to be identified and pursued.”
Established in 1988, the previous authorization for the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail was led by LoBiondo and Lautenberg and expired in September 2011.
The present bill would reauthorize the trail until 2025 and make it eligible for federal funding. It would also create a strategic plan to explore opportunities to increase participation by national, local, private and public interests, as well as organizational options for sustaining the Trail.
Stretching some 300 miles from Perth Amboy in the north to Cape May in the South and across to Carneys Point in the west, the Coastal Heritage Trail connects numerous places of historic, environmental, maritime and recreational interests. These areas include three National Wildlife Refuges, four tributaries of the Maurice River which has been designated a Wild and Scenic River, several lighthouses, a Civil War fort and national cemetery as well as numerous historical sights related to the rich heritage of New Jersey.
Eco-tourism in the area has been especially significant due to the trail’s attractiveness to a wide range of wildlife.
Whale and dolphin watching is extremely popular along the shore and bird watchers from around the world are drawn to the area to see migratory species such as plovers, ospreys, and bald eagles.
LoBiondo introduced the bill in July with Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) leading a companion measure in the Senate. With passage in the House secured, the bill moves to the Senate for consideration.
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