Morristown, NJ

$15 Million Investment Aims to Combat Climate Change in NJ Communities

Morristown Minute

Blue & Green Carbon Grant Program Aims to Restore Coastal, Woodland, and Urban Ecosystems

A new $15 million investment in nature-based infrastructure aims to help fight climate change in New Jersey communities.

This year, Earth Week is celebrated with the theme of Invest in Our Planet. As part of the initiative to invest in our planet, New Jersey is launching a new blue and green carbon grant program that will invest $15 million in projects across New Jersey that “create, restore, and enhance salt marshes, seagrass beds, forests, and urban parks that sequester atmospheric carbon in the fight against climate change.”

“Through investments in nature-based solutions, New Jersey can keep climate pollutants from entering our atmosphere while improving the quality of our resources and beautifying our communities,” said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette. “The climate crisis is already harming our people, communities, and economy and this new grant program will sequester carbon and help to reduce the risks of a changing climate.”

This initiative allows local governments, academic institutions, nonprofits, and more an opportunity to invest in our planet's future by restoring and enhancing coastal, woodland, and urban ecosystems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change.

The grant program is funded through auction proceeds the state has received through RGGI, a collaboration of Mid-Atlantic and New England states that works to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

States receive auction proceeds through this cap-and-trade program to fund a variety of initiatives that aim to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses contributing to climate change.

“Natural solutions are important because they have the potential to do so much more than sequester carbon,” said DEP Associate Commissioner for Science and Policy Katrina Angarone. “Trees planted in our urban areas also help cool our cities, clean our air, provide habitat, reduce flooding and provide green spaces in highly urbanized spaces. Restored tidal wetlands provide important wildlife and fisheries habitat and can increase the resilience of our coastal areas. These projects have the potential to be a win several times over for communities on the front line of climate change.”
“Trees and wetlands serve as excellent carbon sinks, continually taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in biomass and soils,” said John Cecil, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites. “Even though New Jersey is the most densely populated state, there is an abundance of wetlands and forests providing essential services to people and nature. The Natural Climate Solutions Grant Program affords a significant opportunity to restore, enhance and even create these natural assets so that they can help us.”

Project grants range from $250,000 to $5 million. Applications will be accepted through July 13.

“Applicants for blue and green carbon grants should demonstrate that the projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing carbon storage capacity in biomass (i.e., trees and plants) and soils, will reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions caused by increasing salinity of coastal waters or changing land use, and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by preventing soil loss.” New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Entities that may apply include:

  • State, county, and local governments within New Jersey, including state government agencies and school boards
  • State universities and colleges
  • Interstate agencies of which New Jersey is a member
  • Private landowners owning property in New Jersey (note: private property project applicants must provide matching funds)
  • Local nonprofit organizations

Eligible projects include those that:

  • Prevent erosion of carbon-rich soils in littoral (nearshore zones) of the state, including tidal wetlands
  • Restore tidal flows to salt marshes, with a focus on increasing salinity to decrease the production of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas
  • Increase the cover of native salt marsh vegetation in brackish and saltwater tidal wetlands to sequester carbon.
  • Restore degraded forests or former agricultural areas with resilient native vegetation
  • Establish and maintain trees in urban areas while reducing impervious cover and promoting groundwater recharge

The DEP will award additional application review points to projects in Overburdened Communities that have borne a disproportionate share of environmental inequities over the years.

Grant recipients will be required to document and report information depending on the type of project that is implemented. This information may include but is not limited to project area maps, land use, salinity, erosion rate, plant species, acres of vegetated marsh, acres of sub-aquatic vegetation, tree diameter, and tree height.

The DEP will hold a public information session from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on May 19.

Learn more about the Natural Climate Solutions Grant Program and register for the information session here.

How should your community use these funds to improve your local environmental infrastructure? Let us know what you think should be done with the funds in the comments below.

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