Green Acres Program Adds 460 Acres to Double Trouble State
(03/146) TRENTON -- The
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Coalition
for Conservation today celebrated the acquisition of 460
acres of Pinelands watershed land that will be added to
Double Trouble State Park in Berkeley Township, Ocean County.
"Protecting this land in its natural
state will help buffer the water quality of the Toms River,"
said John S. Watson, administrator of the DEP Green Acres
program, which recently completed the purchase. "At
the same time, this land will provide residents in the nearby
densely developed area of Ocean County, and residents statewide,
with excellent opportunities to get outside and enjoy New
Jersey's unique Pinelands habitats."
The $1.15 million acquisition, which includes
three houses and 460 acres, will be added to the DEP's Double
Trouble State Park. The park previously encompassed 7,336
The land includes a stream that drains
to the Toms River, several lakes, vast forested areas of
cedar swamp, and a globally rare natural community of pitch
pine-scrub oak barrens. The land also provides habitat for
a number of threatened and endangered species, including
the northern pine snake, bald eagle, Pine Barrens tree frog,
two species of dragonflies and several rare insects.
The property is in a region the Pinelands
Commission has designated as a special agricultural area,
and active agriculture will continue on the land's 50 acres
of cranberry bogs. Ned and Jeffrey Lipman sold the land
to DEP so it would be permanently preserved in memory of
their father, Edward V. Lipman, who purchased the tract
in 1951. At that time, the cranberry bogs were already 105
Since Governor McGreevey took office last
year, the state Green Acres program has acquired 43,492
acres of open space, and the State Agriculture Development
Committee has preserved 310 farms covering 25,516 acres.
Voters will have an opportunity to approve
an additional $150 million for open space purchases and
community park improvements on Election Day, Nov. 4. Public
Question No. 1, a constitutional amendment, proposes to
increase the bonding capacity of the Garden State Preservation
Trust to $1.15 billion, an increase of $150 million from
the $1 billion voters approved in 1998.
The increased capacity would place no additional
tax burden on New Jersey taxpayers. The sales tax dedicated
in 1998 to pay off Garden State Preservation Trust bonds
would cover these additional bonds by taking advantage of
today's lower interest rates.
"Public Question No. 1 is an incredible
opportunity to provide another $150 million for community
parks, open space, farmland and clean water without raising
taxes or costing taxpayers any additional money," said
Michael Catania, chairman of the Coalition for Conservation.
"The Coalition urges all New Jersey voters to take
advantage of this opportunity and vote 'yes' on Public Question
No. 1 on Nov. 4."
The newly formed Coalition for Conservation
includes a broad base of statewide and local groups representing
land conservation, parks and recreation, and farmland preservation
At least $50 million would be used to create
and improve parks in cities and suburbs over the next three
years as part of Gov. McGreevey's reforms to the Green Acres
program. Last year, Green Acres could provide only $1 in
matching funds for every $8 requested by local governments.
The additional money would help meet New Jersey's growing
demand for open space.
A minimum of $50 million also would be
spent on open space purchases and farmland preservation
in the Highlands, a critical environmental resource that
is the source of drinking water for more than a third of
New Jersey's residents.
In 1998, voters approved a constitutional
dedication of $98 million annually from sales and use tax
revenue over the next 30 years to provide a stable source
of funding for open space purchases, farmland preservation
and historic preservation. Currently, the state may borrow
up to $1 billion over the first 10 years, using the $98
million annually to pay off the debt. With today's low interest
rates, $98 million annually is sufficient to cover payments
on $1.15 billion in debt, allowing the state to expand its
open space and farmland preservation efforts.