Governor Christie Builds on Commitment to Protect New Jersey’s Environment, Signs Legislation to Protect Open Space and Recreational Development in the Garden State

$157 Million Made Available for Green Acres Projects Including Highlands, Barnegat Bay and Urban Waterfronts

Trenton, NJ – Further demonstrating his commitment to the environment and an improved quality of life for Garden State residents, Governor Chris Christie today signed a series of bills that protects Green Acres open-space acquisition and recreational development throughout the state. The legislation also makes available $157 million for projects in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties including preservation projects in the Highlands, the Barnegat Bay watershed, and urban waterfronts.

“I am pleased to sign legislation today that reaffirms my Administration’s commitment to protecting New Jersey's open spaces and natural resources,” said Governor Chris Christie. “These bills continue the Garden State’s proud tradition as a nationally recognized leader in land conservation efforts and will further assist Commissioner Martin and the DEP to fund a wide variety of worthy projects critical to sustaining a high quality of life in the nation's most densely populated state."

Through the three bills, S-2857 provides $84.5 million for grants and loans to municipal and county governments for land acquisitions and park developments; S-2858 makes available $14.8 million to assist nonprofit groups for acquisitions and park development; and S-2859 designates $57 million for state Green Acres acquisitions to expand and develop state parks, forests and wildlife management areas, as well as purchase properties in flood-prone areas through Blue Acres acquisitions.
"New Jersey's land preservation record is second to none," said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “For 50 years, the Green Acres Program has been reaching into New Jersey's communities, funding a great diversity of projects such as ballparks, playgrounds and places to watch wildlife that make our state a great place to call home."

Green Acres project funding is derived from money generated by voter approval of a previous bond referendum, supplemented by money from prior projects that were cancelled by the DEP or withdrawn by applicants. Green Acres funding leverages many millions of additional preservation dollars through matching federal, state, county, local and nonprofit money.

"Today, the Keep it Green Coalition's 135 membership organizations celebrate the continuation of the tremendous legacy of preservation in the State of New Jersey," said Kelly Mooij, New Jersey Audubon and Coordinator of the NJ Keep it Green Coalition. "These bills will provide much needed funding for parks and playgrounds which help keep our children healthy and raise property values, to land that protects vital water resources necessary clean and plentiful drinking water. With this action, the Governor continues a tradition of 50 years of wise investment in our future, protecting what makes New Jersey a great place to live, raise a family and do business."

"We applaud Governor Christie and the bipartisan members of the Legislature for continuing these wise investments to protect clean water, natural areas, and quality parks for our children and grandchildren," said Tom Gilbert, Chair of the Keep it Green Coalition.

The DEP has earmarked money across the state to buy lands to add lands to the state's inventory of parks, forests, wildlife management areas, and other conservation areas, including:

  • $15 million in state-acquisition money to preserve a greenway in the Highlands, a major source of drinking water for the state, including the region's mountains, ridges, forests and fields;
  • $3 million to protect islands, wetlands and uplands in the Barnegat Bay watershed as part of the Governor's 10-point plan for restoring the bay's ecological health;
  • $12 million to acquire land in floodways of rivers and their tributaries that have been prone to damage from flooding for use as recreation and conserved land, including properties in the flood-prone Passaic River Basin;
  • $3 million to link together publicly held lands in the Ridge and Valley area of the state, an area bounded by the Highlands and the uppermost reaches of the Delaware River that is popular with campers, hikers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts;
  • $5 million for protection of land in the ecologically unique Pinelands, which harbors species found nowhere else;
  • $5 million for acquisitions on the Cape May peninsula, with a focus on Cape May Point State Park, Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area and other areas that protect wildlife habitat and provide bird watching opportunities and access to ecosystems.

Local and nonprofit projects receiving funding include:

  • $1.35 million to help a partnership of county and nonprofit groups develop a waterfront park, including an athletics complex, along the Passaic River in Newark's Ironbound section
  • $123,461 to help Bergen County and Westvale Borough complete Westvale Park to include constructing multipurpose fields, redesigning existing athletic fields, adding lighting for all fields, and adding amenities such as a dog run, playground and a walking/biking path;
  • $219,863 to helping Garfield acquire parcels along the Passaic River from Dundee Dam to Post Ford Park to create a waterfront park that will have a pedestrian and bicycle path;
  • $500,000 to assist Camden in rehabilitating Pyne Point Park along the Delaware River as part of the city's plans for a continuous waterfront park and greenway trail;
  • $900,000 to help Pennsauken improve Crescent Park by increasing open space for active recreation and constructing a football field, exercise path, clubhouse, snack stand and restrooms;
  • $450,000 to help Mine Hill Township in Morris County acquire a 46-acre addition to the Dickerson Mine Tract, a forested parcel along the border of Randolph Township;
  • $900,000 to help Brick Township create a waterfront park at an underutilized municipal marina on Mantoloking Road to provide recreation opportunities tied to Barnegat Bay and the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge;
  • $696,000 to help Paterson upgrade and rehabilitate neighborhood parks, including refurbishing the Great Falls overlook;
  • $550,000 for the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance for acquisitions that will protect rural landscapes and forested habitat;
  • $550,000 to assist the New Jersey Conservation Foundation in acquisitions statewide, including purchases along the Delaware Bay in Cape May and Cumberland counties.

Primary sponsors of the legislation include: Senators Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) and Michael J. Doherty (R-Warren, Hunterdon) on S-2857; Senators Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer, Middlesex) and Thomas H. Kean, Jr. (R-Essex, Somerset, Morris, Union) on S-2858; and Senators Robert M. Gordon (D-Bergen) and Jennifer Beck (R-Mercer, Monmouth) on S-2859.

Created in 1961 as the result of an innovative bond referendum, the Green Acres Program is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Together with public and private partners, the Green Acres Program has directly protected 650,000 acres of open space and provided numerous recreational opportunities for a wide range of activities, including natural areas, city parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, boat ramps, docks, fishing piers and environmental education.

For a complete list of projects and descriptions and more information about Green Acres visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres/

For more information on the 50th anniversary of the Green Acres program, visit: www.njgreenacres.org

Press Contact:
Michael Drewniak
Kevin Roberts

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