STATE PRESERVATION TRUST SIGNS OFF ON LATEST GREEN ACRES
AND FARMLAND PRESERVATION PACKAGES
New Funding Proposals
Reflect Governor's Open Space Priorities
(03/150) TRENTON - The
Garden State Preservation Trust today approved the latest
round of funding proposals for farmland preservation and
Green Acres open space acquisitions and grants and loans
to local governments and nonprofit organizations. The two
packages total almost $174.8 million of funding for Green
Acres projects and $130.7 million for farmland preservation
"We have worked hard to reverse the
irresponsible ways of the past, and protect our open space,
drinking water and farmland from the threats posed by sprawl,"
said Governor James E. McGreevey. "I am pleased that
the Garden State Preservation Trust is supporting this Administration's
renewed focus on protecting open spaces that are located
near critical drinking water sources and those located within
our older suburbs and cities. Whether we're preserving a
farm, protecting a field or improving a park, we're ensuring
that open space remains at the top of New Jersey's priority
In all, the $175 million in Green Acres
projects recommended in this round includes:
$64 million in State Land Acquisition
$63 million for local government land acquisition projects,
$31 million for local parks development, and
$16 million for acquisitions and recreational development
projects by nonprofit organizations.
As open space becomes more scarce and property
values continue to increase, Green Acres has seen a measured
increase in requests for funding. Applications from municipalities
and non-profit groups for Green Acres funding totaled more
than $500 million this round. Last year, the State could
provide only $1 in Green Acres funding for every $8 requested
by local governments to acquire and upgrade local parks.
For this reason, the current round of proposals requests
legislative approval for $55 million more than the existing
$120 million annual allocation provided through the Garden
State Preservation Trust Act.
"Every day in New Jersey, we lose
50 acres to development," Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell said.
"In the battle to preserve our dwindling open space,
this funding package aggressively promotes the Governor's
goals of protecting drinking water and promoting community
The $130.7 million approved for farmland
$45.2 million for grants to counties
to purchase easements
$27.9 million for direct easement purchases by the State
Agriculture Development Committee (SADC)
$44 million in planning incentive grants to counties and
municipalities to preserve farms in designated project
$3 million in matching grants to nonprofits
$10.6 million for the SADC to purchase farms outright
under its fee simple program
"This proposal funds new projects
to preserve up to 814 farms covering 62,653 acres in 95
municipalities and 17 counties," noted Agriculture
Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. "The Trust's approval
of these projects is a major step forward in New Jersey's
efforts to promote smart growth, strengthen agriculture
and protect the quality of life in our communities."
Since Governor McGreevey took office, DEP's
Green Acres program has acquired more than 43,000 acres
of open space and the State Agriculture Development Committee
has preserved 310 farms covering over 25,000 acres statewide.
The Governor has helped to make New Jersey a leader in farmland
preservation; more than 13.5 percent of New Jersey's farmland
is permanently preserved - the highest percentage of any
state in the nation.
A key component of the McGreevey Administration's
continued efforts to save open space is Public Question
No. 1 on the November 4 ballot. If approved, Public Question
No. 1 would allow the Garden State Preservation Trust to
issue an additional $150 million in bonds for the preservation
of open space, farmland and drinking water in the Highlands,
and for improvements to local parks-without costing taxpayers
additional money. More information can be found at <http://www.nj.gov/dep/antisprawl/ballot/>.
The Garden State Preservation Trust was
established in 1999 to oversee the preservation of open
space and farmland, and the creation of recreational facilities.
The Trust reviews funding proposal packages submitted by
the Green Acres program, the State Agriculture Development
Committee and the New Jersey Historic Trust. It then recommends
them to the Legislature for passage, with the Governor retaining
final approval over all packages.
The Green Acres program was created in
1961 to meet New Jersey's growing recreational and conservation
needs. To date, Green Acres has protected more than 500,000
acres of open space and developed hundreds of public parks,
bringing the statewide system of preserved open space to
more than 1.2 million acres of open space and farmland.
The State Agriculture Development Committee
administers New Jersey's Farmland Preservation Program,
which was established in 1983. To date, 948 farms covering
nearly 113,000 acres have been permanently preserved statewide.