TRENTON, N.J. – NJ Keep It Green today thanked the New Jersey State League of Municipalities for adopting a resolution expressing support for the establishment of a long-term, dedicated source of state funding for the preservation and stewardship of open space, parks, farmland and historic sites in New Jersey.
“Support from the League of Municipalities sends a strong message that New Jersey needs a sustainable source of state funding to preserve open space and farmland and protect water quality in communities throughout the state,” said Tom Gilbert, NJ Keep It Green chairman. “NJ Keep It Green thanks the League for its leadership as we work with the Governor and legislative leaders to develop a long-term, bipartisan funding initiative.”
Funds from a 2009 voter-approved bond issue that provided $400 million for Blue Acres, Green Acres, Farmland Preservation and Historic Preservation are expected to be fully allocated within the next several months, leaving little money left for these critical programs that have benefited municipalities across New Jersey.
“These programs are a critical source of matching funds for local open space and park projects throughout New Jersey,” said Art Ondish, president of the League of Municipalities and mayor of Mt. Arlington. “We must continue this vital state and local partnership going forward to protect the quality of life in our communities.”
For decades, New Jersey has been a national leader in preserving open space, historic sites and farmland.
• The Green Acres program has partnered with local governments and non-profit organizations to preserve more than 650,000 acres of land and support more than 1,100 park development projects, benefiting every county in the state.
• New Jersey’s Farmland Preservation Program has preserved a record 200,000 acres of farmland
• Through the New Jersey Historic Trust, 477 historic sites have been preserved, protecting our heritage for future generations.
“New Jersey has a long and successful history of preserving open space, parks, farmland and historic sites,” said Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach, who joined Ondish in co-sponsoring the League resolution. “However, substantial needs remain, making it imperative that a long-term, dedicated source of funding be established in order to sustain our preservation programs beyond the 2009 Bond Act.”
Additionally, sustainable funding is also necessary to continue the critical work of Green Acres and Blue Acres to preserve lands in coastal and floodplain areas that can help prevent damage from future storms.
Earlier this year, NJ Keep It Green commissioned a survey of 600 registered voters that found 75 percent would support dedicating $200 million annually for 30 years for open space, farmland and historic preservation. The survey also found that 89 percent of voters believe it is important to protect coastal and inland areas prone to or affected by flooding.
Another recent affirmation of public support for open space came on Election Day when voters approved 7 of 9 local measures to continue or establish open space trust funds, including in East Orange, Princeton and five communities in Bergen County.
In addition to the League resolution, several counties and municipalities across the state have adopted similar resolutions supporting a sustainable funding initiative, including Cumberland, Essex, Hunterdon, and Salem counties to date.
About NJ Keep It Green
NJ Keep It Green is a coalition of more than 175 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 or to sign the NJ Keep It Green Statement of Support, visit www.njkeepitgreen.org.