DISCOVER                               ENGAGE                                SUSTAIN


Undoubtedly we live in ever more complex times. This is both a distraction and a benefit. The increased complexity allows longer life spans, better communication, improved education, and generally more interesting lifestyles for all, but also results in more distractions, confusions and noise. The Sandy Hook Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a novel concept, not unlike the novelty associated with the designation of National Parks over 100 years ago and therefore will take time and effort to understand.

Regardless of complexity, it is often helpful to attempt to explain a concept in its most basic form. This is an attempt to provide such a condensed concept description for the Sandy Hook Bay NMS:

Only 400 years ago, eastern Monmouth County was inhabited by Native Americans and at that time they had lived there for thousands of years. As near as can be figured, they achieved a rough balance, where the influence of their farming, fishing, and hunting resulted in a rough environmental balance in the rivers, the estuaries, and Sandy Hook Bay.

In 1664 the first colonists arrived in Eastern Monmouth County and took advantage of the natural resources on land and in the water. Only 350 years of western influence resulted in a rich and complex culture, but after WWII the eastern Monmouth County natural resources had been pretty much worn out. In the latter half of the 20th century there were major efforts that resulted in significant advances in the restoration of the environment both on land and on the water. While the land continued to be developed, the development was balanced in a complex interaction between continued sub-urbanization and green space preservation. At present, it can be reasonably argued that development of the land in eastern Monmouth County is pretty much complete. To live in a place where green field development opportunities are limited is a new status quo that is only recently starting to occur in limited sections of the United States, and is particularly evident in eastern Monmouth County. With development stabilized, instead of thinking in terms of “more”, in eastern Monmouth County the population has to think in terms of “better”, “optimized” and “sustainable”. Today there are actually significant indications that, with careful planning, we can re-establish a natural environment that can approximate the natural environment 400 years ago, while still enjoying plentiful hunting, fishing, economic and recreational opportunities. Today our natural resources are more limited, but fortunately our other resources have massively increased and therefore lifestyle improvements do not have to occur at the expense of natural resources.

This is a novel planning approach and Eastern Monmouth County is particularly unique since it is very strongly culturally, environmentally, economically, and recreationally, interwoven with its rivers, estuaries, and the Sandy Hook Bay. At present there is some master planning for green space in Monmouth County, but there is no master planning for its water (blue) space and, even more notably, there is no significant planning for the interaction between land and water. For the people in eastern Monmouth County to participate in, and to benefit from, the best sustainable balance in our thinking and planning, the land and the water can only be considered to be one. The creation of the Sandy Hook Bay NMS will allow the water to be able to interact with the land as one complex, but optimal and locally managed sustainable system.

The creation of the NMS will allow locally managed integrated study, education, and appreciation, of our rich cultural, economic, and natural environment, for the benefit of all, forever.


Copyright © Navesink Maritime Heritage Association

Navesink Maritime Heritage Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging Eastern Monmouth County with maritime and water related historical, skill building, environmental, and recreational activities, and encouraging responsible use of the Navesink estuary through its Discover, Engage, and Sustain approach

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