Conservation Fund on Camden County Ballot (NJ)

Camden, NJ, 10/10/2005: On November 8, Camden County voters will be asked to cast their vote regarding the Clean Water, Safe Parks, and Open Space ballot measure. This summer, the Camden County Board of Freeholders unanimously voted to place on the upcoming ballot the Public Question seeking a one-cent increase in the Open Space, Recreation, Farmland, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund levy. If passed, the measure would provide funding to protect Camden County’s drinking water sources and water quality, improve park safety, and preserve natural areas and open space.

The measure is supported by The Conservation Campaign, an affiliate of the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization.

“New Jersey has consistently been a leader when it comes to public funding for conservation. Camden County has wisely leveraged state and local funds with their own funding source, and this measure will allow them to continue the good work they have started,” said Will Abberger, TPL’s associate director of conservation finance. “As development pressures increase and Camden County and its municipalities work to protect remaining open space, there is a growing need for more funds to make this work possible.”

The cost to the average Camden County property owner would be less than $1 a month. The one-cent increase in the open space trust fund would generate $2.6 million a year. Over 20 years, an additional $56 million would be available for clean water, safe parks, and open space.

“The county has been very successful at leveraging its funds with funding from state, municipal, and nonprofit sources: more than $1 in matching funds has been raised for every $1 of county funds,” said Camden County Freeholder Jeffrey L. Nash. “This is an opportunity to provide additional funds to protect water quality and to conserve rapidly disappearing open space.”

In November 1998, Camden County voters overwhelmingly approved creation of the Open Space, Recreation, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. Since 1999, the county has protected more than 960 acres of rapidly disappearing open space and farmland and created new parks for our communities. Thirty neighborhood recreation facilities have been improved and eleven historic sites have been restored. For every $1 from the county trust fund more than $1 has been attracted in matching funds land preservation.

“Camden County is already almost fully developed. What little open space remains is threatened by development. We must protect our land, air, and water now, before it’s too late,” said Nash. “The longer we wait, the more irreplaceable land, water, and wildlife will be destroyed and lost forever.”

The County Open Space and Farmland Preservation Plan set a goal of preserving at least 2,000 acres by 2010. Emphasis will be placed on land that is threatened by development and land that protects drinking water sources and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams. Funds will also be used to preserve working farms in Camden County.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than two million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 23,000 acres in New Jersey.