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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2003

Contact: Amy Cradic
(609) 984-1795

 

State Joins Forces with Nonprofit and Local Governments to Preserve Horse Farm in Developed Area of Camden County

Push for November Open Space Ballot Initiative Continues

(03/151) VOORHEES TOWNSHIP - Partnering with the Trust for Public Land, Camden County and Voorhees Township, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley Campbell and Secretary of Agriculture Charles Kuperus today announced a joint effort to preserve 141-acre Stafford Farm - one of the last remaining significant open space parcels in Voorhees Township.

"Every effort must be made to prevent development from consuming properties like Stafford Farm that are the last significant parcel of open space in a densely developed area," said DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell. "Thanks to a strong cooperative effort between the nonprofit community and all levels of government, area families and future generations will be ensured public access to this open space without the threat of future development."

Stafford Farm is approximately 141 acres of open fields and woodland. Approximately 70 acres are devoted to an equine operation. An additional 30 acres of fields and 40 acres of mature forest will be protected for passive recreation. While a portion of the property will be preserved as farmland, an old stagecoach trail on the remaining 70 acres will be minimally cleared to provide a public recreational trail between the local high school and the middle school. The woods on the property have been identified by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation as a rest over spot for migratory birds.

The land is being preserved using a combination of state farmland preservation funds, Green Acres funding, Camden County and Voorhees Township open space and farmland preservation funds, and private funding from the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.

With state and local funding support, the Trust for Public Land has executed a contract with the landowners, and closing is expected to occur by the end of 2003.

"The partnership to preserve Stafford Farm is a model for cooperative preservation efforts," said Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. "As a result, this beautiful horse farm will forever remain open and productive, and an asset to this community and our agricultural industry for generations to come."

"This is a wonderful example of how government works together for the people," said Freeholder Director Jeffrey L. Nash. "I commend the members of our county open-space committee, Voorhees Mayor Harry Platt, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, the state Department of Environmental Protection and, of course, The Trust for Public Land for their considerable effort and co-operation in preserving this beautiful, high-profile property for all of Camden County's residents to enjoy."

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.

Five years ago, voters approved a constitutional dedication of $98 million annually over the next 30 years to provide a stable source of funding for open space purchases, farmland preservation and historic preservation. 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. The increased bonding would place no additional costs 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.

At least $50 million of the additional funding will be used to create and improve parks in cities and suburbs over the next three years as part of Governor McGreevey's reforms to the Green Acres program. 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.

"Preservation of our open space and farmland resources today helps ensure livable communities and desirable landscapes for tomorrow. New Jersey voters have consistently supported measures to provide funding for the preservation of our natural resources. We expect that this November 4 will be no different," said Leigh Rae, New Jersey field office director of the Trust for Public Land.

The farm property has been in the Stafford family for more than 225 years. It became a horse farm in the 1960s and is the last reflection of Voorhees Township's agrarian past. Voorhees Township consists of five percent remaining open space.

 

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