NJ Keep It Green Praises Mercer County Support for State Preservation Funding

TRENTON, N.J. – NJ Keep It Green today praised County Executive Brian Hughes and the Mercer County Freeholders for supporting the establishment of sustainable state funding for the preservation of open space, waterways, parks, farmland and historic sites throughout New Jersey.

“NJ Keep It Green is pleased that elected leaders in Mercer County understand the importance of protecting New Jersey’s natural resources,” said Tom Gilbert, chairman of NJ Keep It Green. “Preserving open space and farmland and protecting our drinking water improves the quality of life in New Jersey and is key to the economic success of our region.”

“Additionally, protecting land in coastal and floodplain areas can help prevent storm damage, which is becoming increasingly important as storms like hurricanes Sandy and Irene occur with more frequency,” Gilbert said.

The Mercer County Freeholders on Tuesday night adopted a resolution in support of sustainable funding for Green Acres, Blue Acres, Farmland Preservation and Historic Preservation.

The following are just a few examples of how preservation funding has benefited Mercer County:

  • Nearly 200 land acquisition and park development projects have been supported through the Green Acres program, helping to preserve more than 16,000 acres of open space; 
  • Green Acres funds allowed for the purchase of a former gas station site along the D&R Canal State Park in Trenton.  This property is key to expanding and restoring the historic Battle Monument Park and marks the site where General George Washington’s troops set up their artillery for the Battle of Trenton during the American Revolution;
  • Farmland preservation funds helped preserve more than 7,700 acres of farmland.

“Mercer County has diligently worked with many partners from the non-profit and government sectors, to preserve over 20 percent of the developable land in the county.  This investment helps to ensure that future generations have places to play, clean water to drink and clean air to breathe,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes.  “A permanent source of funding for preservation and recreation will help us sustain and expand our very successful programs.” 

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. 

“Our state is slated to be first to achieve total ‘build-out’, in a matter of decades.  Every step we take to slow that process keeps New Jersey not only green, but open,” said Linda Mead, president and CEO of D&R Greenway Land Trust. “D&R Greenway Land Trust salutes County Executive Brian Hughes and the Mercer County Freeholders for their wisdom in adopting this resolution. Mercer County has been an outstanding preservation partner through the years and their support has made many special projects happen in our landscape.”
  
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.

The New Jersey State League of Municipalities and several counties and municipalities across the state have adopted similar resolutions supporting a sustainable funding initiative, including Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Hunterdon, Passaic 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.

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