NJ Voters Approve Record $751M for Conservation

Morristown, NJ 11/8/2006: On November 7, voters nationwide approved $5.7 billion in new public money to protect land for parks and open space-the highest amount ever according to the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization. The increase can be attributed in large part to a California measure, Proposition 84-that included $2.25 billion to improve drinking water, flood control, protection of coastlines, and state parks. Overall, 99 out of 128 measures (or 77 percent) were passed by voters.

In New Jersey, voters approved a record $751 million in conservation funding. Although this year marked a low in terms of the number of conservation measures on ballots statewide (just 26, but still more than any other state), the funds approved surpass all other years except 1998, when voters decided on a record number of measures (64), including the statewide measure for the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund.

In addition, voters passed State Ballot Question #2, which creates a dedicated source of funding for much-needed capital repairs, improvements, and renovations at state and local parks and natural areas. The measure reallocates a surplus of existing funds from the Corporate Business Tax already dedicated to the environment. Through 2015, $15 million annually would be allocated to improving parks and natural areas across the state, with an increase to $32 million annually thereafter.

Significant measures were also passed in Burlington and Monmouth counties. In Monmouth County, voters approved the conversion of the current Open Space Trust Fund fixed amount of $16 million annually to a fixed rate of 1.5 cents per $100 of assessed value to benefit from a growing tax base and maintain a level of funding in balance with rising land prices. The move is expected to generate $412.5 million. In Burlington County, voters extended a 4-cents per $100 property tax from 18 to 25 years, which is expected to mean $412.5 million for conservation.

A complete list of results from local and state balloting on conservation and parks is available on-line today from LandVote 2006-www.landvote.org.

“Today’s results demonstrate sustained support among New Jersey residents for new investments in parks and open space,” said Terrence Nolan, director of the New Jersey Office of The Trust for Public Land in Morristown. “Looking ahead to 2007, we look forward to working with Governor Corzine, the New Jersey legislature, and our conservation partners on the critical need to renew and strengthen the Garden State Preservation Trust next year.”

Since 1994, voters have approved more than 1,500 conservation measures, generating more than $43.3 billion in new public funds for conservation.

The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. To date, TPL has helped protect more than 2.2 million acres nationwide, including more than 23,000 acres in New Jersey. Visit www.tpl.org/newjersey.