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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4/21/03

Contact: Jack Kaskey
609-984-1795

Green Acres Acquisitions Expand Belleplain State Forest

(03/60) WOODBINE, NJ -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell kicked off Earth Week on Monday by announcing a major expansion of Belleplain State Forest in Cape May and Cumberland counties.

Campbell was joined this morning by Woodbine Mayor William Pikolycky and Dennis Township Mayor and Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew.

Six recent acquisitions from private landowners and a purchase from the Borough of Woodbine are increasing Belleplain State Forest by 2,320 acres.

"These additions to Belleplain will not only preserve habitats for threatened and endangered species, but they also will give people more rivers, marshes and forests to explore and enjoy," Campbell said.

The largest addition to the State Forest is a 1,265-acre tract purchased from the Thomas family. The land is a mosaic of upland and wetland forest, bogs, lakes and meadows that likely harbors threatened and endangered species such as the Pine Barrens tree frog and the red-headed woodpecker.

"Governor McGreevey is committed to providing parks and outdoor recreation facilities, not just in rural areas, but also in urban and suburban communities throughout the State," Campbell said.

Woodbine is selling Green Acres a 266-acre addition to Belleplain, the first piece of the state forest that will be in the borough. The tract encompasses the western end of the borough’s new DeHirsh Avenue bicycle path.

Woodbine also is in line to receive a $90,000 Livable Communities grant to help pay for improvements along the bike path and at Lincoln Park, Franklin Street Park and Woodbine Elementary School playground. The money will be used to help the borough install a tot lot, replace aging playground equipment and purchase trash receptacles and park benches.

"We have many causes for celebration today – first to recognize the successful partnership between Woodbine and the State of New Jersey to preserve precious open space, and second to recognize the state’s support of our local parks," Pikolycky said. "Both of these initiatives will provide local residents and those across the state ideal access to New Jersey’s parks and natural resources."

Since 1961, Green Acres has protected more than 514,000 acres of open space and provided funding to develop hundreds of parks, bringing the state-wide system of preserved open space and farmland to more than 1.2 million acres.

Green Acres purchases land to protect environmentally sensitive open space, water resources and other significant natural and historical open space. Land acquired by Green Acres becomes part of the statewide system of parks and forest, wildlife management areas and natural areas.

Through the Local Assistance Program, Green Acres provides funding to county and municipal governments and nonprofit organizations to acquire open space and parks in their communities.

 

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