Nature Helps South Jersey Shore Community with Flood Concerns

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When storms such as Hurricane Sandy come barreling ashore, damage is a big concern.

But the Nature Conservancy is explaining why nature is making a big impact when it comes to protecting communities during those storms.

“Five years ago, Sandy came through and this site helped to reduce some of the flooding impacts,” said Nate Woiwode, the North American risk reduction and resilience project manager for The Nature Conservancy.

That site is the South Cape May Meadows Preserve. The 200 acres of land is dedicated to wildlife, dunes, and freshwater wetlands.

“Wetlands reduced the impact of Sandy by $425 million," said Woiwode. "So, these aren’t just small solutions, there’s really big impact to be had when you made the investment in nature.”

The work that we’ve done is really starting to elevate the role that nature can play in the way a community starts to shape their future.

“Nature can help absorb storm surge, wave energy, reduce flooding, it can also provide wonderful wildlife benefits,” said Patricia Doeer, director of coastal and marine projects for The Nature Conservancy New Jersey Chapter.

By using a system of gates, the area is able to drain freshwater to make room for what a storm may bring.

“Maybe the most compelling part is once the water is moved back, you almost have the same place you had before. It’s really not just that moment in the storm, but beyond it as you think about the recovery time,” said Woiwode.

This all was put into place just about 10 years ago.

“We partnered with local communities, the state of New Jersey and the U.S. Army Corps to do this comprehensive ecological restoration where we can marry the needs of nature with the needs of the community,” said Doeer.

“What we do know is the work that we’ve done is really starting to elevate the role that nature can play in the way a community starts to shape their future,” said Woiwode.

When it’s not helping protect the community it’s helping to entertain it, as the trail serves as a place to get a good look at wildlife.

“We really wanted to show how communities throughout New Jersey and North America that you can harness the power of nature for the benefit of the communities,” said Doeer.

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