New Jersey is often used as an example of a natural system gone awry. The unflattering term "New Jerseyization" was coined by a prominent scientist to describe a developed, eroding coast, where natural beaches have been replaced by engineering structures. This view may have been correct in the past, when seawalls and bulkheads replaced many of our beaches, but our beaches are being brought back by artificial nourishment projects. Hard protection structures are only one phase in the cycle of changes on a developed coast. Human efforts can help regenerate landforms and biota, providing we take a proactive approach to shore protection that accommodates a wide range of resource values. The preferred method of shore protection in New Jersey has changed from groins, to bulkheads and seawalls, to beach nourishment. Hard protection structures are less likely to be built in the future, but many structures still exist, and some new structures may have local usefulness. Accordingly, it is important to know how these structures function. It is also important to know that all protection strategies have usefulness, but they are not readily interchangeable at a given location. Beach nourishment can help restore lost natural values, but many municipalities have elected to grade and rake their nourished beaches, preventing them from evolving into topographically and biologically diverse natural environments. The large amount of sand scheduled to be pumped onto New Jersey beaches in the future represents an invaluable resource, but the full potential of nourishment will not be realized without addressing habitat improvement and nature-based tourism in addition to the goals of protection from erosion and flooding and provision of recreation space. A dune is another valuable natural resource that is often overlooked. Dunes provide protection from flooding and valuable habitat, but they are often eliminated or prevented from growing because they restrict views or access to the beach. It is within our capability to recapture many of the natural values of beaches and dunes that have been lost by building too close to the water, but we must know the tradeoffs involved in selecting the best management option. Successful mitigation of coastal hazards requires preparedness by municipalities and individual residents. This preparedness, in turn, requires knowledge of the processes causing these hazards and the alternatives available to reduce vulnerability and maintain our future options. This manual will help in that decision-making process by providing information stakeholders can use in managing properties and becoming more involved in decisions made by municipal, state and federal managers. Management of beaches and dunes is not simply a government responsibility. Property owners and visitors can help determine the kind of coast we will have in the future and help maintain that coast as stewards of the resources we own and use. Millions of dollars are spent to keep our beaches viable and protect valuable shorefront property. It is up to all of us to make sure that the money is well spent. Karl F. Nordstrom Rutgers University
Beginning on March 6, 1962, the most devastating coastal storm in modern history assailed the New Jersey coast for three days. At its peak on March 6th and 7th, the storm generated a 3.5 ft storm surge over three successive high tides, each tide peaking at 8.8 ft above mean lower low water (MLLW). Massive waves of up to 40 ft high generated by sustained winds of 45 knots blowing over a 1000 miles of open ocean came crashing toward the New Jersey coast. By the end of the storm, 9 people lost their lives, 16,407 structures suffered damage and 21,533 structures experienced significant flooding. A total of $120 million (1962 dollars) in damages resulted from this event. On December 11,...