by Dr. Lenore Tedesco, Executive Director
Once again, I marvel at the inescapable feeling that time has a way of accelerating when it comes to summer at the shore. This year, like so many others, summer seems to have come and gone far too quickly. Time and the rate of change are curious things because we each bring a different perspective to our perception of it.
Many of you know that I am a geologist so my perception of time normally takes an incredibly long view and I see landscapes through a lens of eons and millennia and beyond. I often write about my observations of the changes that we are seeing and documenting in our local landscape. It seems like these changes are accelerating as well. Change is here and happening fast.
Sea level rise is a major concern for the entire Jersey Shore and our observations of the changes to the marshes here show a dramatically increased frequency of their flooding, changing their structure and the protections that they afford our coastal communities.
As the chief steward of The Wetlands Institute, time is now of the essence and it is time to focus our attention to enhancing the resiliency of the Institute. In July, The Wetlands Institute finalized the purchase of a property along Route 9 in Middle Township. The purchase of a site on the mainland is our first step in better preparing the physical infrastructure of The Wetlands Institute for the future. This new site – to be known as The Wetlands Institute Mainland Campus – strengthens the Institute’s position from the perspective of resiliency and is also an important step to accommodate our continued growth and development.
The 1.2-acre property includes a four-bedroom house, oversized garage, storage shed, lit parking, and a fully fenced yard, and will provide a multitude of benefits to the Institute. We plan to renovate the property for mixed uses including office space and seasonal housing for our summer interns. It will also provide much-needed storage and maintenance areas and secure boat and fleet parking. We have plans to move some of our computing facilities and records to the mainland site as well. We have just begun planning for the renovations and will work closely with Middle Township on all aspects of the project.
We also have plans to enhance resiliency for the main wetland campus that has been a fixture of Middle Township and Seven Mile Island for generations. Our sense of place is strong and our wetland campus will always be important to our mission. We are reimagining The Wetlands Institute campus and are exploring innovative projects to restore our marshes and protect the Institute from the increasing threats of rising seas and enhanced storms. It is our intent to make The Wetlands Institute a model for how we can build resiliency and continue to live in a vibrant and healthy marsh while inviting nature to be an integral part of the campus.
Stay tuned for more about our plans for the future and how you can contribute your ideas to the process.