NJ Keep It Green today celebrated the Assembly’s approval of $123 million in Green Acres and Blue Acres funding and thanked lawmakers for realizing the value of open space in protecting New Jersey communities from future storm damage.
“Land preservation can play a critical role in preventing damage from superstorms like Hurricane Sandy,” said Tom Gilbert, NJ Keep It Green chairman. “By investing in Green Acres and Blue Acres, our legislators are making a wise decision that will benefit current and future generations of New Jersey residents.”
This round of funding represents the last of the Green Acres and Blue Acres funds from the 2009 bond referendum, which voters approved to allocate $400 million for open space, farmland and historic preservation projects throughout the state.
The bills provide funding for a range of park, land and water protection projects throughout the state and include more than $29 million for projects to buy-out flood-impacted properties in both in-land and coastal areas and to protect undeveloped coastal watershed and riparian lands to help prevent future flood damage. These projects were in the pipeline prior to Hurricane Sandy.
Specifically, the bills include:
- More than $2.4 million in Coastal Blue Acres (CBA) Acquisition grants in Linwood City, Atlantic County; Cape May City, Cape May County; and Fair Haven Boro, Monmouth County. The CBA program provides 50 percent matching grants for the acquisition by local governments of certain land in the coastal zone that has been damaged by a storm or storm-related flooding.
- $12 million in Blue Acres funding for the acquisition of properties damaged by flooding, or that may be prone to incurring damage caused by storms or storm-related flooding, or that may buffer or protect other lands from flood and storm damage.
- More than $5 million in Green Acres grants for flood-related acquisitions in Atlantic, Monmouth, Bergen, Passaic and Morris counties.
- $9 million in Green Acres funding for state coastal watershed land acquisitions, including $2 million in the Cape May Peninsula, $4 million in the Delaware Bay Watershed and $3 million in the Barnegat Bay Watershed.
The Senate has already approved the bills, so they now await the Governor’s signature.
“NJ Keep It Green thanks the Legislature for approving these appropriations bills and urges the Governor to sign them expeditiously so these projects can move forward quickly,” said Kelly Mooij, NJ Keep It Green coordinator. “As these are the last of the 2009 bond funds for Green Acres and Blue Acres, NJ Keep It Green is committed to working with the Governor and legislative leaders to develop a bipartisan, sustainable funding initiative to preserve our open space, including lands that help protect New Jersey residents from future storm damage.”
According to a 2012 poll, 75 percent of New Jersey voters would support dedicating $200 million annually for 30 years to preserve our open space, farms, and historic sites and protect our water supply. In addition, 89 percent of voters said it is important to protect lands in coastal and inland areas that are prone to, or affected by, flooding.
Further funding for the Green Acres and Blue Acres programs can play a critical role in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. As an example, over the past several decades more than $42 million in Green Acres funds have been used to support waterfront park and recreation development, including boardwalks, docks and fishing piers, in New Jersey’s coastal areas.
About NJ Keep It Green
NJ Keep It Green is a coalition of more than 170 park and conservation advocates working to create a long-term, dedicated source of funding for the preservation and stewardship of New Jersey’s natural areas, waterways, parks, farmland and historic sites. NJ Keep It Green led successful campaigns to pass statewide ballot measures in 2006, 2007, and 2009 generating $600 million for state open space, farmland and historic preservation programs. For more information visit www.njkeepitgreen.org .