Coalition Applauds NJ Governor’s Approval of Green Acres Program Funding

Today Governor Chris Christie signed into law three appropriations bills for the Green Acres Program. These bills had passed the Senate and Assembly earlier this summer with unanimous bi-partisan support and they will continue New Jersey’s tremendous legacy of preserving open space. The NJ Keep It Green Coalition, comprised of over 135 member groups representing conservation, agriculture, historic preservation, wildlife and recreation interests, heralded the signing of the appropriations bills.

“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 for clean and plentiful drinking water. With this action, the Governor continues a tradition of 50 years of wise investments in our future, protecting what makes New Jersey a great place to live, raise a family and do business.”

These bills will direct over $150 million to preservation throughout the State of New Jersey, from protecting sources of clean drinking water in the NJ highlands, to important wildlife habitat in the Delaware Bayshore, to suburban parks, to urban pocket parks.

“The greatest threat to rare species survival in our state is destruction of habitat. Open space is essential to stopping species loss and protecting our natural heritage for future generations. For this reason, we applaud today’s passage of the Green Acres bills.” Said Margaret O’Gorman, Executive Director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

Most of the funds will be provided under the 2009 Green Acres Bond Act approved by voters for these purposes. These appropriations will bring money to every county in the state, preserving land vital to protecting our drinking water, important wildlife habitat, and the purchase and development of parks in urban areas.

“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 NJ Keep It Green Coalition.

These appropriations continue the long tradition of preservation in the State. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Green Acres program, one of the most successful land preservation programs in the Country.

“At its inception, Green Acres served as a national model, and it continues to do so 50 years later with marked success throughout the Garden State,” said Anthony Cucchi of the Trust for Public Land. “The program’s investments have consistently leveraged funding from other public and private partners to create great public spaces.

“It’s great to see the Legislature and the Governor honoring the voters’ wishes and continuing to fund important land conservation projects throughout the State,” agreed Alison Mitchell, Policy Director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

The Christie Administration and the Garden State Preservation Trust have approved allocating the first half of the $400 million authorized under the 2009 Bond Act this year to be divided between Green Acres, Blue Acres (lands that help protect our streams and rivers), the Farmland Preservation Program, and the New Jersey Historic Trust.

A previous study by The Trust for Public Land found that for every $1 invested in preservation of open space by the state, $10 dollars in economic value are returned through ecosystem services alone, including clean water, clean air and flood control among many other benefits.

“This is the kind of investment we need at just the right time,” said Kelly Mooij, New Jersey Audubon “Through the leadership of the Legislature and Governor, and the will of the people, we will continue to preserve safe, clean places for our children to play, clean and plentiful water to drink, valuable habitat for fish and wildlife and so much more.