New Jersey Conservation Foundation
New Jersey Conservation Foundation Menu
NJCF Homepage Contact Us Donate Events Search NJCF
New Jersey Land Conservation Organization
Donate to New Jersey Conservation Foundation
State We're In New Jersey Conservation Foundation Blog
Don't sink Canal Commission
5/6/2011 Volume XLIV, No. 18

Governor Chris Christie is proposing to eliminate the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission as part of his sweeping plan to increase government efficiency. Although most of us would agree that improving government efficiency is a great goal, this particular proposal is a textbook case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It would serve neither the public good nor the government of this state we’re in, and would result in less government efficiency!

The D&R Canal Commission was established in 1974 with a mandate to protect the drinking water supply of 1.5 million people. The Canal Commission also oversees the D&R Canal State Park, a 70-mile linear park that’s Central Jersey’s most popular spot for jogging, bicycling, fishing, hiking, canoeing, horseback riding and more.  It’s a state and national historic district, and an important wildlife corridor. The Canal Commission makes sure public and private development does not harm the park’s natural beauty and historic integrity.

Perhaps the most important function of the Canal Commission is protecting the water supply. This means protecting lands within the surrounding watershed; thus, the Canal Commission has regulatory authority over development projects in the watershed’s 448 square miles and 35 municipalities. The regulations ensure that developments do not impair the quantity and quality of water entering the Canal. The Canal Commission also holds and monitors conservation easements on about 5,000 acres along the streams that drain into the Canal.

Despite the size of its task, the Canal Commission is a model of regulatory efficiency.  State law requires its permit decisions to be made just 45 days after a complete development application is filed; in over 30 years, the Canal Commission has missed this deadline fewer than 10 times! This is an exemplary record for a state agency in New Jersey.

In a recent effort to streamline permitting, the Canal Commission offered to take over the review of stormwater impacts in the few cases where applicants need both a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Canal Commission permit. This type of thinking helps make the DEP more efficient – and should be rewarded. The Canal Commission’s regulations are more stringent than the DEP’s regulations, so without the Commission our water quality will have less protection.

Far from a bloated bureaucracy, the Canal Commission employs just three full-time people, aided by two part time engineers.  The staff answers to nine commissioners – a representative of the DEP and eight volunteer public members appointed by the Governor. Since the public members are unpaid and the Canal Commission raises its funding through permit fees, the whole operation is “revenue neutral.”

In other words, the Canal Commission works.  In addition to not costing taxpayers, the Canal Commission provides huge net benefits:  protected drinking water quality and recreational opportunities; an objective voice in response to proposals made by private parties and public agencies; and a forum for citizens to partner with state government, increasing accountability and transparency.

The proposal to abolish the Canal Commission was met with a bipartisan outcry from citizens, developers, environmental and historic preservation organizations, and municipalities.  Several real estate developers wrote letters to the Governor in support of the Commission – a true testament to this refreshing example of fair and efficient government.

But the Canal Commission is seriously threatened.  Two of the three staff members left when the Governor announced his elimination plan, and the director is retiring at the end of this month. Unless Governor Christie acts immediately to allow the Canal Commission to hire new staff, the doors will close on June 1.

Instead of cutting the Canal Commission, the state should use this agency as an exemplary model for other agencies to emulate, including the DEP.

You can help save this example of good government that works for the public.  Please contact Governor Christie at 609-292-6000 or and urge him to keep the D&R Canal Commission and authorize immediate hiring of replacement staff.

You can also share your support for the Canal Commission with the chairs of the N.J. Senate and Assembly environment committees, Senator Bob Smith (732-752-0770) and Assemblyman John McKeon (973-275-1113), who recently convened a hearing on this issue. You can email them at

 And if you’d like more information about conserving New Jersey’s precious land and natural resources, please visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s  website at or contact me at



Love NJ's outdoors? Take action now!

New Jersey's official reptile, the bog turtle

Sea level rise and New Jersey: Not perfect together

These New Jersey plants have an appetite for insects

Explore the Pine Barrens through paddles, hikes and tours

Like to jog? 'Plog' instead and keep NJ clean

Love Jersey fruit? Thank our native pollinators!

Good news for globally rare swamp pink lilies

Say cheese! Remote cameras aid wildlife research

Begone, single-use plastic bags!

3,000 birds and counting for 'bluebird grandfather'

The Pine Barrens gets some help from its friends

A clean energy future for New Jersey

Cowtown and rare grassland birds, perfect together

Fight light pollution during International Dark Sky Week

New film tells story of how Petty's Island was saved

Ten years of nipping invasive species in the bud

Welcome spring in a county park

Go for a walk and feel better!

Grab a friend and go outside

Recycle your way to zero waste!

Last call for winter wildlife watching on Jersey coast

Without its 'understory' layer, the forest will collapse

From whale songs to poetry, a remarkable journey

A cleaner, greener New Jersey

Let's keep New Jersey the Garden State, not the Pipeline State

New Jersey's winter hikes

'Trees don't vote' but Byrne saved Pine Barrens anyway

Governor-elect Murphy should set new course on the environment

Protect soils to keep the garden in our state

Clean, plentiful water is New Jersey's lifeblood

A breath of fresh air for New Jersey?

Keep Liberty State Park free and open

A green agenda for Governor-elect Murphy

Life, liberty ... and a clean environment

New Jersey's aging water infrastructure

The land before time: NJ's Kittatinny Ridge & Valley

While bats hibernate, scientists hope for survival

Natural Resource Damages fund new parks and preserves

Save menhaden, a humble but mighty fish

Ballot question approval would lock in environmental funds

Sandy Millspaugh: Conservation Trailblazer

Extreme hurricanes highlight concerns about climate change

'Head start' for corn snakes

Protecting the Highlands - it's the water

When you could walk from New Jersey to Morocco

A bold plan for the planet

New Jersey's energy future at a crossroads

Tiny insect will have a huge impact on New Jersey

Protect New Jersey's Pine Barrens


July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011


New Jersey Conservation Foundation on FacebookNew Jersey Conservation Foundation on TwitterNew Jersey Conservation Foundation on FlickrNew Jersey Conservation Foundation YouTube ChannelShare      
New Jersey Conservation Foundation           Bamboo Brook, 170 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931           908-234-1225 
home  | nj statewide eventscontact us  |  sitemap  |  privacy policy  |  DONATE