Over the past few months, the federal government reactivated the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), that will work to create more safe, affordable, and equitable opportunities for Americans to get outdoors. This council is made up of federal government leaders from the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense.
The federal program originally launched under the Obama administration but was suspended under the Trump administration. recently the Biden administration announced bipartisan support for funding in several priorities that could affect us here at Money Island:
– Resilient infrastructure like breakwater to slow erosion, stronger boat ramps and sustainable docks
– Rural electric vehicle charging stations for road vehicles and boats
– Bolstering education of the public and career opportunities
– Cooperation with local governments
Here in New Jersey the state’s new NJDEP commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette promoted similar priorities earlier this year in connection with Earth Day activities.
The difficulty we anticipate here in Money Island is that government has not actually delivered here on its promises of tangible support for boating infrastructure in the past. Some suspect that federal and state officials see the rural communities as out-of-sync with larger priorities. Tony Novak, leader of recreational program outreach here at Money Island, reports that this is a common belief among many people in government, consultants and lobbyists. “We are just too small and too red for them” is how he phrases the challenge. Novak points out that none of the local community’s strategic planning or economic redevelopment plans over the past several decades have been adapted by state or federal government. As a direct result, we see that with the daily political rhetoric in social media is often hostile to federal and state government programs like this. Until recently we had local elected officials who even denied that climate change impact was out top economic challenge for the future. Even now, residents of other South Jersey shore towns continue to fight the conversion to renewable energy underway by state and federal government agencies. That translates to denial of funding for us here in South Jersey commercial and recreational fishing and other outdoor industries.
Money Island is called the “diamond in the rough” of South Jersey. Private investors and businesses are eager to revitalize a recreational activities if the government support the necessary infrastructure improvements including a breakwater, boat launch extension, docks, and facilities for larger transient boats.
Baysave, a 501(c)(3) that runs Money Island Marina investment programs and most current operational programs is committed to serving all stakeholders and plays a balancing role between the often competing interests.