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An Aerial View of New Jersey's Coastline, describing the articles insight into NJ's Plan to Combat Climate Change and the REAL Initiative
Climate Adaptation Strategy

New Jersey's Climate Change Coastal Initiative
Discover the REAL Plan

New Jersey's Path to Coastal Resilience

In the face of mounting challenges posed by climate change, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s administration is spearheading a groundbreaking initiative to fortify the state’s coastal communities against the impending threats of floods, rising sea levels, and coastal storm surge. The introduction of the Resilient Environments and Landscapes (REAL) reform marks a pivotal moment in New Jersey’s proactive stance toward climate adaptation and sustainable development.

Acknowledging the Urgency of Climate Change

As climate scientists warn of a potential 5-foot rise in sea levels by the end of the century, New Jersey’s 130-mile coastline stands as a vulnerable frontier. With nearly two-thirds of the state’s coastal areas already classified as high or very high-risk zones for erosion, and 98% projected to face high risks from sea-level rise, the need for decisive action cannot be overstated.

The REAL Initiative

REAL, an integral component of the New Jersey Protecting Against Climate Threats (NJ PACT) initiative, represents a comprehensive overhaul of coastal building regulations. Crafted by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in response to years of deliberation and scientific projections, this package signifies a shift in how the state approaches land use and development along its shoreline. Recently announced, REAL will be formally introduced in July 2024, and aims to take effect in the summer of 2025.

Key Provisions

The REAL initiative encompasses a spectrum of amendments aimed at enhancing coastal resilience while fostering sustainable development. From adjusting Coastal Flood Hazard Areas to accommodate rising sea levels and storm surge, to creating Inundation Risk Zones for areas susceptible to daily inundation, each provision is meticulously designed to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.

Embracing Nature-Based Solutions

Central to the REAL initiative is the promotion of nature-based solutions, which leverage natural materials and ecosystems to bolster coastal defenses. By integrating practices such as living shorelines and oyster castle deployments, New Jersey aims to harness the inherent resilience of its coastal ecosystems while minimizing environmental impact.

Aligning with Renewable Energy Goals

In striking a balance between coastal development and habitat conservation, the REAL initiative underscores New Jersey's commitment to supporting renewable energy endeavors. By facilitating offshore wind development while safeguarding coastal habitats, the state exemplifies a holistic approach to sustainable growth.

Streamlining Permitting Processes for Coastal Communities

Recognizing the importance of expediting resilient investments, the REAL initiative also prioritizes the streamlining of DEP permitting processes. By enhancing transparency and efficiency from project inception to completion, New Jersey aims to catalyze resilient infrastructure development across its coastal communities.

Improving Water Quality + Stormwater Management

A critical component of the REAL initiative is the enhancement of water quality and the reduction of flooding through improved stormwater management practices. By implementing sound stormwater management strategies in areas where stormwater is not adequately managed, New Jersey aims to address both immediate and long-term flooding issues. These practices not only mitigate flood risks but also contribute to better water quality, ensuring the health and sustainability of our coastal ecosystems.

Contact McLaren Engineering Group

As the REAL initiative progresses towards formal adoption in the summer of 2025, New Jersey stands poised to set a precedent for coastal resilience nationwide. Collaborating with property owners and local municipalities, we develop proactive steps towards safeguarding coastal investments for generations to come. With a multidisciplinary team of specialists, McLaren provides customized strategies that harness the unique characteristics of shorelines while promoting ecological health and resilience.