| Things to think about
Despite the fact that the amount of open space available for
public use has increased, the view from the road - seemingly
endless strip malls and subdivisions - continues to show that
we are losing our forests and farms at an alarming rate.
Most of the acres preserved since 1970 have been acquired through
the Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres program.
In 1998, New Jersey voters voted to establish the Garden State
Preservation Trust, which builds on the efforts of the Green
Acres Program. In particular, it provides a stable source of
funding for the next ten years to preserve one million acres
of the state’s remaining open space and farmland.
* While all open space funding will be allocated
by 2009, given the lag time between appropriation of funds and
actual closings, acquisitions and easement purchases are not
expected to be finalized until 2010. See the Technical Appendix
for a more detailed explanation.
children and adults need places to congregate and play. These
simple pleasures are fundamental to the quality of life in New
Jersey. As of 1999, more than 938,000 acres of open space had
been permanently preserved, much of which is available for public
recreation. Unfortunately, the remaining unpreserved land is
being rapidly consumed by development. We benefit from public
land in many ways. Homes and businesses near parks are worth
more than those in other places. We strengthen our communities
when we socialize in these places; plants and animals have places
to thrive; and green spaces promote tourism and clean our air
second largest industry is tourism - a measure, in part, of
the state’s natural charm and attraction. Other industries understand
the importance of open space and recreational opportunities
to the quality of life enjoyed by their employees and consider
this when deciding where to locate or expand. One Colorado study
found that the market value of properties adjacent to greenways
was 32 percent higher than the value of those only half a mile
We think of parks and open
spaces as places to play, relax, and enjoy the beauty of nature.
But to the state’s flora and fauna they are home. This double
utility of parks allows us to have fun while protecting species.
Natural areas also absorb some of the pollution from our cars
and factories, and filter our water. Parks and open spaces are
a triple play.
Green spaces are part of
our identity . When we think of our nicest neighborhoods,
we see tree-lined streets, baseball diamonds, and benches in
the grass. When we think of our nicest vacations, we see ocean
beaches, the Appalachian Mountains, the Pine Barrens, and the
outdoors. We can gather in green spaces and socialize. They
are part of who we are.
We still do
not have consistent data on the total amount of open space lost
annually in New Jersey. The data we have do not tell us whether
our open lands have been logged recently, whether they suffer
from pollution or other degradation, or about the general quality
of nature there. These data also do not say how accessible these
places are to our people, especially to those without cars.
See the Technical Appendix for information about the adjustment
in the data and a change in the description of this indicator
since the 1999 Sustainable State Project Report.
Source: NJ Department of Environmental Protection