TRENTON, N.J. – NJ Keep It Green today congratulated the Christie administration, the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, The Nature Conservancy and Conservation Resources, Inc. for the preservation of more than 5,000 acres of undeveloped woodlands and wetlands in Atlantic County’s Great Egg Harbor Watershed.
The preservation of the property helps link more than 56,000 acres of existing state wildlife management areas, plus thousands of additional acres of county parkland where the Pinelands meets coastal estuary ecosystems, and will provide a number of outdoor recreational opportunities while protecting an important natural area in southern New Jersey. The total investment in the project was $9.7 million with $6.5 million funded through New Jersey’s Green Acres program.
“This is a great example of how the Green Acres Program can help to protect critical lands along New Jersey’s coastal waterways that will not only maintain natural buffers against flooding, but protect important wildlife habitat and ensure public access to the great outdoors,” said Tom Gilbert, NJ Keep It Green chairman. “We must ensure that there is a sustainable funding solution this year so that we can continue these types of investments going forward.”
Funds from a 2009 voter-approved bond issue that provided $400 million for Blue Acres, Green Acres, Farmland Preservation and Historic Preservation are fully allocated, leaving little money left for these critical programs.
New Jersey has approximately 1 million acres (20 percent of the state) that are still unprotected and developable. An additional 350,000 acres of farmland still need to be preserved to maintain a viable agricultural industry in the Garden State. Too many communities still lack access to quality parks close to home, and hundreds of thousands of acres of priority lands remain unprotected in the Highlands, Pinelands, Barnegat Bay and elsewhere.
NJ Keep It Green in the spring of 2012 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.
In addition, a recent statewide poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind and co-sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau found that 83 percent of New Jersey residents support the continuation of funding for the preservation of open space and farmland.
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.