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Water: Estuaries and Coastal Watersheds

Barnegat Bay Partnership (NEP Profile)

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Summary Information

Year Established: 1995
Location: New Jersey
Area of Watershed: 3,525 square kilometers

Priority Management Issues:
conventional pollutants
human population growth
habitat loss/alteration
species loss/decline
fisheries loss/decline
introduced/pest species
freshwater inflow problems
drinking water problems

Major Habitat Types:
submerged aquatic vegetation (sea grass)
barrier islands/sand bars
lagoon/shallow open water
shellfish growing areas
beach/dune (bare and vegetated)
sand/mud/salt flats
salt/brackish marsh
freshwater marsh (non-tidal)
forested wetland
freshwater lakes/ponds
grass/open field
non-wetland forest
riparian/riverine (forested and floodplain)

Federally Endangered or Threatened Species:
bald eagle
peregrine falcon
piping plover
roseate tern
American chafseed
Knieskern's beaked-rush
sensitive joint-vetch
swamp pink

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Overviews and Highlights

Located in Ocean County, New Jersey, Barnegat Bay is a shallow, lagoon-type estuary, characteristic of the back bay system of a barrier island coastline. The Barnegat Bay Estuarine system covers over 42 miles of shoreline from the Point Pleasant Canal to Little Egg Harbor Inlet, but is relatively shallow, with an average depth of 6 feet. The Barnegat Bay watershed drains from a land area of approximately 550 square miles.

Over 450,000 people live within the Barnegat Bay watershed. That population doubles in the summer as people flock to the shore. The continued economic health of the Barnegat Bay watershed is dependent on the continued health and natural beauty of its waters. The Barnegat Bay Estuary is not only a vital component of New Jersey's tourist industry, but is an important natural resource that supports populations of commercially and recreationally significant fish and rare and endangered species.

Non-point source pollution, while diffuse, is cumulatively the most important issue in addressing adverse impacts on water quality and the health of living resources in the Bay. The contaminants found in rain and snowmelt, as well as groundwater, contribute to non-point source pollution.

At the request of the Governor of New Jersey, Barnegat Bay Estuary was recognized as an estuary of national significance threatened by pollution, development and overuse and was accepted into the National Estuary Program in July 1995. The Barnegat Bay Estuary Program will develop its Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan to address these issues, as well as others, over a three year time frame.

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