$157 Million Made Available for Green Acres Projects Including Highlands, Barnegat Bay 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approval of a previous bond referendum, supplemented by money from prior projects that were cancelled by the DEP or withdrawn by applicants.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:
Local and nonprofit projects receiving funding include:
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