DEP Kicks Off Summer Season by Welcoming the Public to Enjoy the Outdoors at State Parks and Forest
New Jersey’s state parks, forests, recreation areas and historic sites are gearing up to open swim areas, expand camping amenities and offer numerous outdoor educational programs ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Governor Phil Murphy recently announced several new vaccination incentives as part of “Operation Jersey Summer,” a statewide public awareness campaign aimed at vaccinating New Jersey residents who live, work or study in the state against COVID-19. The new incentives include a State Parks Vax Pass, providing free access to New Jersey’s 51 state parks and facilities including Island Beach State Park.
Visitors are reminded that face coverings are required in all indoor state park and forest facilities including park offices, nature centers, bathrooms and at gatehouses. Social distancing of at least 6 feet must also be maintained at all times.
For more information on DEP summer offerings, please see the attached press release.
Vax and Visit with the State Parks Vax Pass
Beginning this past Thursday, May 27, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will offer a free State Parks Vax Pass under the new “Vax and Visit” campaign to all New Jersey residents who receive at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccination by July 4, 2021. The State Parks Vax Pass, which will be of the same value as the Annual State Parks Pass, will allow free access to all of New Jersey’s 51 State parks and forest facilities that charge daily walk-in or parking fees, from Thursday, May 27 through December 31, 2021.
New Jersey residents who have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to request a State Parks Vax Pass upon entry at any one of the state’s 51 parks, including Island Beach State Park. The Department of Environmental Protection will also provide refunds to residents who already purchased Annual State Park Passes this year and have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
To receive your Vax Pas and get more information, you can visit: https://www.nj.gov/dep/vaxandvisit/
Acting Commissioner LaTourette Announces $20.7 Million in Clean Communities Grants, Urges Use of Reusable Shopping Bags in Advance of New Single-Use Plastics Law
This past Wednesday during a news conference at Great Falls National Park, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette announced the award of $20.7 million in grants to help municipalities and counties implement programs to clean up and reduce litter in communities across New Jersey. This year, the DEP has awarded $18.4 million in municipal grants and $2.3 million in county grants. The total of $20.7 million represents a $1.3 million increase from last year due to an increase in revenues. The program is funded by a legislated user-fee on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that produce litter-generating products.
The nonprofit Clean Communities Council, a longtime DEP partner that oversees the implementation of municipal and county litter abatement programs funded by Clean Communities grants, will also play an important role as the state implements the new bag law.
Effective May 4, 2022, this law will protect the environment and reduce litter by banning the sale or provision of plastic bags, regardless of thickness, at grocery stores and retail outlets, as well as paper bags at grocery stores measuring more than 2,500 square feet. The law also bans Styrofoam clamshell food containers. Starting October 4, 2021 plastic straws at restaurants will be available only upon request. Certain exemptions apply.
For more information on Clean Communities Grants and the new Single-Use Plastics Law, please see the attached press release.
DEP Acting Commissioner LaTourette Declares New Jersey Beaches Ready for Summer Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend
Acting Commissioner LaTourette delivered an update on the general condition of New Jersey’s beaches and water quality monitoring and announced that the New Jersey State Parks Vax Pass is now available online at this year’s state of the shore event. The New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium holds the State of the Shore event prior to the start of the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer season, to provide updates on important coastal issues.
Going into the holiday weekend, Acting Commissioner LaTourette noted that beaches are in good shape and that water quality is excellent. The state’s Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program is at work safeguarding water quality and public health. This partnership monitors 192 ocean beaches and 24 bay and river beaches. Visitors can get up-to-date information on all water sampling results and beach notifications by visiting https://njbeaches.org/. The public can use this website to get beach status information (open, under advisory or closed), reports, and fact sheets, as well as a link to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission website to purchase a Shore to Please license plate. Proceeds from the sale of these plates fund the work of the Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program.
For more information on the State of the Shore event as well as beach condition and water quality monitoring, please the attached press release.
Follow DEP Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette on Social Media
You can now follow Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette on Instagram and Twitter at @shawnlatur and the DEP on Twitter and Facebook at @NewJerseyDEP for news on DEP initiatives and announcements.
Everyone 12 or Older who Lives, Works, or Studies in New Jersey is Now Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine
For more information regarding the vaccine, including resources on how to get vaccinated, where to get an appoint, information about vaccination, and vaccine statistics, please visit the State’s COVID-19 Vaccine page.
Parks Summer Release
Clean Communities Grant