Newark - United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today sent a letter to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to urge the NJDEP and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to preserve the Palmyra Cove Nature Park and find an alternate site for dredge spoils from the Delaware River. The letter was presented to NJDEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson during the public information meeting hosted by NJDEP on this issue at the Burlington County Bridge Commission. A 1998 agreement that created the nature preserve also allowed for the USACE to utilize the site for future maintenance dredge spoils. USACE is scheduled to begin maintenance dredging in the Delaware River.

Full text of the letter follows below:

August 13, 2007

The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson


401 East State Street

7th Floor, East Wing

P.O. Box 402

Trenton, New Jersey 08625

Dear Commissioner Jackson:

Palmyra Cove is a nature park that has become a vital habitat for migrating birds and a beautiful place for our state's children to learn about the environment. There is simply no place for dredging spoils in such a setting.

The endangered Peregrine Falcon and over thirty species of warbler use the grounds to feed. Pied-billed Grebes and Coopers Hawks have now established nests in Palmyra Cove Nature Park. In addition, each year thousands of students come to the park as a field trip for outdoor environmental education. The students learn first hand how to perform environmental science field tests and discover the joys of the outdoors. These habitats and educational services would be compromised by the dumping of dredging spoils.

I want to recognize the efforts the DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers attempt to forge a compromise to allow the dumping of dredging spoils in a limited area and to preserve the wooded areas of the park. But the proposed compromise is not enough.

It is true that in 1998 an agreement was signed to allow maintenance dredging spoils to be dumped at this site, but since 1998 the park has changed and our citizen's appreciation for this beautiful area has changed. This beloved nature park is now simply an inappropriate place for these spoils.

I urge the Commissioner and the Army Corps to go back to the drawing board and find an alternate site for these materials. I want to thank everyone for being here and I hope we can find a solution to both allow this required maintenance dredging to continue and to preserve this park.