LINWOOD — The Linwood Environmental Commission has been working for more than 10 years to protect and enhance Patcong Creek, enlisting volunteers, City Council, the Nature Conservancy and municipal planner Jim Rutala to create a living shoreline.
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On Monday afternoon the city received $25,000 in grants to continue that work along the creek. Sustainable Jersey gave the city a $10,000 grant, and Atlantic City Electric gave the Nature Conservancy a $15,000 grant to continue the project.
Officials and others involved with the project gathered at City Hall for the check presentation and to talk about the project.
Patty Doerr, director of Coastal Programs with the Nature Conservancy, is working with the city to help "integrate nature" and address the challenges of climate change, including the rising sea level.
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Rutala, a city resident who has been a member of the environmental commission for nearly 20 years, said the condition of Patcong Creek has improved over the past two decades in response to a change in people's attitudes.
In the early days of the annual Patcong Creek cleanup, volunteers were pulling shopping carts and tires from the creek. Now the creek is no longer a repository for junk, he said.
“People think differently about the Patcong Creek. New partners like the Patcong Creek Foundation are helping to improve the creek," he said.
"The city invested and purchased 17 acres along the creek behind Cornerstone, and today that area is home to a pair of nesting bald eagles,” Rutala said. “That is a result of the effort to create this living shoreline.”
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Atlantic City Electric Regional Vice President Susan Coan said the company was happy to support the Patcong Creek effort.
“We want to support great projects like this one, not only because it is in the middle of our coverage area, but because it enhances the environment. Atlantic City Electric is not just putting money to the project, but you will be able to count on us for volunteers to get involved with the cleanup,” she said.
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Former Cape May Mayor Edward Mahaney of Sustainable Jersey praised the living shoreline project, calling it a true grassroots effort.
For a sustainable project of this magnitude to be successful, volunteers must reach out to the local officials, to their business community and to the financial community and pull everything together — and that's not easy, he said.
He gave kudos to Rutala, and to City Clerk Leigh Ann Napoli for juggling all of the paperwork necessary for the project to be successful.
Mayor Rick DePamphilis said the city appreciates the financial support to bring the living shoreline project together.
Living shoreline treatments address erosion and seek to restore natural habitats through pollution remediation, planting of native vegetation, stabilization of the shoreline with organic materials, and other techniques.