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Two States: One Bay
A bi-state conversation about the future of the Raritan Bay

Friday, June 12, 2015

Raritan Bay Conference - June 12, 2015
Two States: One Bay, a day-long discussion and workshop sessions on Raritan Bay issues ranging from habitat restoration to fisheries management and public access, was held on June 12, 2015 at Rutgers University’s Douglass Student Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  

Following the conference, insights and opportunities identified by conference participants were highlighted in Two States: One Bay; A Bi-state Conversation About the Future of Raritan Bay, a report including 20 key opportunities for improving Raritan Bay. The conference and report were produced by the New York – New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program and the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative.

Report (pdf), Agenda (pdf), Flyer (pdf) , Attendees (pdf) & Presentations and More:

Video: Two States: One Bay; A bi-state conversation about the future of the Raritan Bay


8:45 – 9:30 AM

Welcoming Remarks
Sara Malone, Program Manager, Sustainable Raritan River Initiative
Dr. Judy Shaw, Program Director, Sustainable Raritan River Initiative
Dr. James Hughes, Dean of the E.J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers
Joan Leary Matthews, Director, Clean Water Division, US Environmental Protection Agency
Dan Kennedy, Assistant Commissioner, Water Resources, NJ DEP
Venetia Lannon, Director, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 2
Robert Pirani, Program Director, New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program - Presentation (pdf)

9:30 – 11:10 AM

Water Quality Panel - Presentation (pdf)
Moderator: Dr. Dennis Suszkowski, Science Director, Hudson River Foundation
Panelists: Jeff Myers, Bureau Director, Water Assessment Management, NYS DEC
Dan Kennedy, Assistant Commissioner, Water Resources, NJ DEP

Public Access Panel - Presentation (pdf)
Moderator: Nick Tufaro, Principal Planner, Middlesex County Office of Planning
Panelists: Sara Malone, Program Manager, Sustainable Raritan River Initiative
John Kilcullen, Director, Conference House Park, NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation

Fisheries Management Panel - Presentation (pdf)
Moderator: Tom Noji, Director, NOAA National Marine Science Lab at Sandy Hook
Panelists: Peter Clarke, Fisheries Biologist, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, NJDEP
Soren Dahl, Coordinator for Seagrass Mgmt., Bureau of Marine Resources, NYS DEC

11:30 AM – 12:35 PM

Resilience Panel - Presentation (pdf)
Moderator: Rob Freudenberg, Director, Energy & Environment, Regional Plan Association
Panelists: Dave Rosenblatt, Administrator, Office of Engineering & Construction, NJDEP
Kris Van Orsdel, Dir. Infrastructure & Local Gov. Prgm., Office of Storm Recovery

Habitat Restoration Panel - Presentation (pdf)
Moderator: Debbie Mans, Baykeeper & Executive Director, NY/NJ Baykeeper
Panelists: Peter Weppler, Chief, Environmental Branch, US Army Corps of Engineers
Carl Alderson, Marine Habitat Restoration Specialist, NOAA

3:00 – 4:15 PM

Towards a Shared Agenda: Issue Reports and Discussions
Moderator: Tony MacDonald, Director, Urban Coast Institute, Monmouth University
Panelists: Kate Anderson, Chief, Clean Water Regulatory Branch, USEPA (Water Quality)
Kerry Miller, Assistant Director, Assn. of NJ Environmental Comm. (Public Access)
Dr. Bonnie McCay, Professor of Human Ecology, Rutgers (Fisheries)
Dr. Steven Handel, Professor Ecology & Evolution, Rutgers (Habitat Restoration)
Adam Parris, Exec. Director, Science & Resilience Institute/Jamaica Bay (Resilience)
Rob Freudenberg, Director, Energy & Environment, Regional Plan Assn. (Regional)

4:15 – 4:45 PM

Conference Closing Thoughts and Next Steps
Robert Pirani, Program Director, New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program - Presentation (pdf)

Raritan Bay Conference - Logos

A Focus on Raritan Bay

What is the History of Raritan Bay and where are we heading?

Raritan BaySun sets at the Raritan Yacht Club in Perth Amboy, New Jersey (photo: Bill Schultz/Raritan Riverkeeper)

Raritan Bay’s residents have valued its biodiversity and natural features for centuries, beginning with the Native American tribes that harvested hard clams for wampum in pre-colonial times. Since then, the bay has been many things to many people--a cornucopia to the fishermen who made a living on its banks, a peaceful refuge for its recreational sportfishers and boaters, and simply home to many. Sitting adjacent to one of the world’s largest cities, and a gateway to an active port, the Bay’s proximity to human activities has brought with it inevitable challenges. The bay’s shellfish beds have been closed to direct harvest for many years due to water quality concerns, and legacies of industrial contaminants manifest themselves in fish tissues. The Bay also possesses multiple brownfield and Superfund sites.

Despite challenges, Raritan Bay’s vibrant community of residents, fishers, boaters, and nature-lovers continues to advocate for its continued resiliency, environmental health, fisheries, and accessibility. Recent threats like Hurricane Sandy, which inundated Sandy Hook and had a significant impact on homes on the New Jersey bayshore and Staten Island, have served as a wake-up call to the destructive effects that global climate change could have on the bay. Agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have worked to develop environmental and engineering solutions to the problems of sea level rise and coastal flooding.
Though many organizations and individuals with a stake in the bay have been working towards solutions for the threats that face it, there has been no general gathering of Raritan Bay’s stakeholders for some time. To remedy this, the New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program and the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative at Rutgers University have partnered to convene the conference Two States: One Bay, A Bi-State Conversation about the Future of Raritan Bay. The conference will bring together leading representatives from government, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and business from New York and New Jersey.
One of the most important factors in fostering stewardship of Raritan Bay has always been enabling dialogue--between fishermen and fisheries scientists; local and state governments; and between the state agencies that jointly manage the Bay. To this end, a major portion of the conference day will be spent in conversation, with participants dividing into breakout groups to discuss the five major topics of habitat restoration, resiliency, water quality, fisheries management, and public access. The plenary sessions will also be highly interactive, with online polls to gauge audience members’ reactions to plenary topics and to solicit feedback and suggestions for the future.

What do we know about Raritan Bay?

NJDEP releases a bibliography focusing on the Bay

In advance of the Two States: One Bay conference, partners have been working to gather information, including a selected bibliography of ecological and land use studies of Raritan Bay, recently released by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program and the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative are also working together to create a status and challenges document about key issue areas in the Bay.

Raritan Bay


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