RPA report envisions New Jersey’s Meadowlands as the first ‘Climate Change National Park’

Posted On Wed, February 14, 2018 By

Posted On Wed, February 14, 2018 By In Green Design, New Jersey, Policy, Urban Design

Via ORG Permanent Modernity/Regional Plan Association

Released last fall, the Regional Plan Association’s (RPA) Fourth Plan includes 61 recommendations focused on improving and expanding the area’s deteriorating infrastructure, transportation, and affordability, much of which revolves around climate change and its transformation of the region. According to the report, more than one million people and 650,000 jobs are at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels. In the plan, the RPA ambitiously recommends that the New Jersey Meadowlands, 21,000 acres of low-lying wetlands, becomes a national park as a way to mitigate impacts of climate change (h/t Curbed). Designating the region’s largest wetland as a national park would restore the natural habits, protect nearby communities, and create a recreational space, becoming, the report says, a “Climate Change National Park.” The Meadowlands National Park would adapt and grow with climate change by drawing and redrawing the boundaries of the park as coastlines change.


The park boundaries would be drawn and redrawn as the coastline changes to protect residents outside of the park; courtesy of RPA

By the end of this century, flooding and storm surges will displace between 4,000 and 8,000 residents near the Meadowlands and cost the area 51,000 jobs. Although it’s been overdeveloped for decades, the land still supports critical fish and wildlife biodiversity and provides critical ecosystem functions.

To both preserve the natural value of the Meadowlands, and protect people in the area from the effects of climate change, RPA says a Meadowlands National Park would restore natural features to absorb floodwater. As the seas rise, the park boundaries would grow.


The proposed Meadowlands National Park; courtesy of RPA

Getting national park designation is a complex process, starting with the federal government and local stakeholders reaching an agreement on a vision. After the National Park Service (NPS) performs a resource study to determine the area’s feasibility as a national park, lawmakers can introduce legislation in Congress. The land would then have to be transferred to the federal government.

RPA says the Meadowlands planning process could be funded by the state with the federal government paying for improvements and infrastructure adaptations. In a partnership, state and federal entities could buy out high-risk properties in communities like Teterboro, Little Ferry, and Moonachie and transfer the purchased land to the NPS, essentially bringing those communities into the designated park area.

Rendering courtesy of MIT CAU + ZUS + Urbanisten

The goal for Meadowlands National Park is to create one, defined landscape of wetlands for visitors to enjoy the outdoors. This won’t be an easy task as the NJ Turnpike and commuter and intercity rails travel through the Meadowlands currently and many warehousing and distribution facilities are located there.

Read the full report found in the RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan here

[Via Curbed]

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