PHOTO: (left to right): Jim Krauss, chairman of the Environmental Commission and the Green Team, Cindy Zipf – Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action, Rhonda Le Grice – Mayor of Atlantic Highlands and Catie Tobin – Marine Science Program Manager for Clean Ocean Action

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – On July 27, 2016, Clean Ocean Action awarded a Municipal Blue Star Certification to Atlantic Highlands, NJ, at a Town Hall ceremony to recognize their efforts to improve water quality.

“As the Mayor of Atlantic Highlands, I am proud to receive this Blue Star award. But I must give the credit to James Krauss, chairman of the Environmental Commission and the Green Team, for submitting the necessary paperwork and following through with the application process. Atlantic Highlands will continue to work with Sustainable Jersey and Clean Ocean Action to educate us and the next generation to be good stewards of this most valuable resource,” said Mayor of Atlantic Highlands Rhonda Le Grice. “I applaud the more than 30 years of Clean Ocean Action's efforts to protect our marine life and combat the pollution of our bays and ocean. The health of these waters should be a priority for every coastal New Jersey town from Bergen County to Cape May County. Much work is still needed, and I thank you for keeping us informed of the issues which affect our waters.”

The Blue Star program launched in September of 2014 and over 20 towns have expressed interest in obtaining the certification.

“The Blue Star Program was established by Clean Ocean Action to encourage towns along the coastal regions and beyond to prioritize water quality protection measures while achieving the Sustainable Jersey Certification, which harnesses the best of both programs,” said Cindy Zipf, Clean Ocean Action, Executive Director.  “The Award is in recognition of a town taking significant and meaningful actions to improve and protect water quality.”

The municipal Blue Star program combines the visionary Sustainable Jersey Initiative with Clean Ocean Action’s focus on water quality protection. The Program encourages communities to promote healthy waters, resilient communities and environmentally-sound practices. This is done by completing various projects that protect community watersheds and climate mitigation. Atlantic Highlands surpassed the necessary 75 points by achieving 80 points to attain the Municipal Blue Star certification. Examples of the actions completed include Open Space Plans, Community Education and Outreach, Prescription Drug Safety and Disposal, and Shrink Wrap.

In addition to Sustainable Jersey projects, towns are required to choose one of COA’s additional actions. Atlantic Highlands completed the Climate Adaptation: Flooding Risk Action, which is designed to identify a community’s vulnerability to flooding impacts (both coastal and inland) along with ways to improve a community’s overall resiliency.

The Sustainable Jersey and Blue Star programs improve and protect our economy, reduce costs and increase municipal funds, promote healthy waters and environmentally sound practices, showcase communities as statewide role models, and increase community pride and participation.

“As a town impacted by Superstorm Sandy, it is essential to take action to mitigate their vulnerability,” said Catie Tobin, Clean Ocean Action, Marine Science Programs Manager. “With the completion of the Climate Adaptation: Flooding Risk Action, Atlantic Highlands is taking an important step toward planning for their future.”

Any municipality registered or certified in the Sustainable Jersey program is eligible to work toward the Blue Star certification. For more information about COA’s Blue Star Program, please contact 732-872-0111.

The development of the Program was made possible by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.