The Pinelands Conservation Fund (PCF) was created in 2004 as part of an agreement with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to permit the construction and upgrade of an electric transmission line through eastern portions of the Pinelands. Under the agreement, the special fund was established to further the Pinelands protection program and ensure a greater level of protection of the unique resources of the Pinelands Area. The utility that built the transmission lines, Atlantic City Electric (formerly Conectiv), provided $13 million to establish the Fund. An additional $3,415,000 was added to the Fund in 2009 as a result of an amendment to the Comprehensive Management Plan that authorized expansion of the Cape May landfill and through a 2008 Memorandum of Agreement with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority that authorized improvements to the Garden State Parkway.
The Pinelands Conservation Fund is dedicated to four types of projects: permanent land protection; conservation planning and research projects; community planning and design initiatives and education and outreach. Of the original $13 million, $6 million was allocated by the Commission to permanent land protection. Additional monies were subsequently allocated to the land acquisition component of the Pinelands Conservation Fund, including $2.5 million from the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority. Eight percent of those funds, or $200,000, was earmarked for projects in Cape May County. An additional $915,000 was added to the acquisition component of the Pinelands Conservation Fund in 2008 as the result of a memorandum of agreement between the Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority that allowed for the widening of the Garden State Parkway. In order to avoid secondary impacts associated with this transportation project, the Turnpike Authority provided the Commission with funds to purchase lands in the immediate vicinity of two Parkway interchanges as a means of limiting development potential that might be inconsistent with the CMP. In 2014, the Commission decided to make another $500,000 in the PCF available for land acquisition and the monitoring of conservation easements.
In 2006, the Commission’s Permanent Land Protection Committee established priorities for distribution of the PCF acquisition money, with a focus on lands within the Toms River Corridor and Southern Medford/Evesham sub-regional planning areas and 18 other Planning Areas previously identified by Commission staff. Equal priority was given to lands within the priority acquisition areas identified by the Commission in the 1980s and early 1990s. Known as the “502” Target Areas (a reference to Section 502 of the 1978 National Parks and Recreation Act that created the Pinelands National Reserve), these acquisition areas total approximately 100,000 acres in size and encompass ecologically- and culturally-critical areas within the Pinelands Area. In 2006, it was estimated that approximately 30,000 acres remained to be preserved within the 502 Target Areas. A small portion of the available PCF funds were made available for parcels outside the 502 Target and Planning Areas, with priority given to those in the Preservation Area District, Special Agricultural Production Area, Forest Area and Agricultural Production Area. The Committee further determined that PCF dollars would be best spent by contributing a maximum of one-third of a project’s fair market value, as a means of closing gaps in funding and providing the last piece of the puzzle need to complete a project. The Commission then hired a program facilitator, Conservation Resources Inc. of Chester, N.J., to assist in the land acquisition program by identifying and completing land preservation projects with a variety of state, county and conservation organizations.
Between 2007 and June 30, 2016, the Commission conducted a series of funding rounds, in which a total of $8.95 million was allocated from the PCF to 36 projects in the Pinelands Area. All 36 projects have successfully closed as of July 2016, resulting in the permanent protection of 8,190 acres in the Pinelands Area. Further details on the PCF projects may be found in the final report that Conservation Resources, Inc. submitted to the Commission in 2014 and by accessing the Commission's Permanent Land Protection Map.
Questions about the PCF acquisition program should be directed to Susan R. Grogan at email@example.com.
The Pinelands Commission does not have an open round of PCF funding at this time. Please check back for future updates.