Atlantic City's beach, courtesy of MeetAC
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation that could ultimately eliminate private beaches in the state. The law codifies the "Public Trust Doctrine," a principle establishing the state's tidal waters and adjacent shorelines as belonging to the public, to be used for navigation, commerce and recreation, including bathing, swimming and fishing. The state's Department of Environmental Protection oversees this access, as it protects the public's right of access to public-trust lands.
"New Jersey's shoreline and coastal communities are some of our state's greatest treasures," said Murphy. "By strengthening the public's right to access our beaches, we are ensuring that all New Jersey residents and visitors can enjoy our beautiful shore this summer and for generations to come."
The state Senate and Assembly passed the bill in March by near-unanimous votes.
"Enjoying the shore is one of the best parts of life in New Jersey. As the trustee of the natural resources of the state, I consider it a priority to ensure open and equal access to New Jersey's treasured coastlines for all of our residents," said Catherine R. McCabe, commissioner of the NJDEP. "I look forward to working with the land-use and coastal-planning experts at DEP to craft the regulations to implement this important legislation."
New Jersey's Atlantic Ocean coastline is roughly 130 miles long, stretching from Sandy Hook to Cape May. More than 40 communities line the shoreline and include iconic beach towns such as Atlantic City, Asbury Park, Long Branch, Beach Haven and Seaside Heights.
"As we get ready for summer and the influx of tourists from around the world coming to enjoy New Jersey's amazing coastline, one thing remains clear: Our connection to our oceans and waterways is a fundamental part of our lives, our culture and our economy," said Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.