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December 22, 2011

Contact: Abbie Tang-Smith (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795


(11/P144) TRENTON -  A couple enjoying a beautiful afternoon at Mercer County Park. Fog lifting at Morris County's Black River Wildlife Management Area. A white-tailed deer flicking its tongue at the South Branch Reservation in Hunterdon County.

These are just some of the scenes of New Jersey's natural beauty honored with awards in the DEP's Green Acres Program's 50th anniversary photo contest. The contest, which drew hundreds of participants, capped a year-long DEP celebration of the first Green Acres bond act, the landmark law that set New Jersey on the path to becoming a national leader in the preservation of open space.

"The Christie Administration is committed to the continued preservation of parks and natural landscapes such as those showcased in these photographs," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said today in announcing the awards. "Through their photographs, these artists are showing all of us why land preservation is such an important part of the DEP's mission."

The DEP kicked off the digital photography contest in June, challenging people across the state to capture snapshots of their favorite Green Acres properties in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebration of the first Green Acres bond referendum. The result is a unique, lens-eye view of parks and open spaces across the Garden State, often from intriguing angles.

“These talented photographers were able to catch unique windows into land and parks that we all treasure,” said Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources Amy Cradic.

The winning photos were displayed last week at the State Museum in Trenton during the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony. They are now on display at the lobby of the DEP headquarters in Trenton. 

A panel of judges was tasked with choosing first, second, third and honorable mention award recipients. Categories included:

  • People in Parks: People recreating or at play in parks preserved or developed with Green Acres funding;
  • Scenic: Natural landscapes that capture the scenic beauty of Green Acres funded properties;
  • Nature in New Jersey Close-Up: Close-ups of plants, trees, animals, leaves, rocks, water, and other natural aspects of Green Acres funded properties.

Entries were separated and judged according to three age categories: youth (ages 6-12), teenagers (ages 13-17) and adults (ages 18 and older).

The theme of the year-long 50th anniversary celebration is “Green Acres: It's all yours." Governor Robert B. Meyner signed the first Green Acres Bond Act on June 3, 1961.Since then voters have approved every state Green Acres bond act put before them at the polls, resulting in the protection of 650,000 acres of open space, and development of hundreds of outdoor recreational facilities.

To see the winning photo entries visit:  

The following is a list of winning entries: 

Nature Close-up

Ages 6-12
1st – Tyler Hechtle, Dragonfly at Turkey Swamp Alder Trail, Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold
2nd – Galina Bello, Bullfrog Enjoying Lily Pad Pond, Tenafly Nature Center, Tenafly

Ages 13-17
1st – Jared Kofsky, Bee in the Garden, Durand-Hedden House & Garden, Maplewood
2nd – Kelly Gibson, A Squirrel's View, Roosevelt Park, Edison
3rd – Lexie Fairman, Frog in Water, Sourland Mountain Nature Preserve, East Amwell

Ages 18+
1st – Donna Herrmann, Licky Lulu, South Branch Reservation, High Bridge
2nd – Vivian Bedoya, Baby Blues, Colonial Park, Franklin Township
3rd – Sandy Urgo, Red Fox at Wild Acres, WildAcres Preserve, Montville

People in Parks

Ages 13-17
1st – Kelly Gibson, The Red March, Roosevelt Park, Edison
2nd – Avery Gebhardt, Feet, Stony Brook Park, Princeton
3rd – Emily Goldman, Bike Rack, Marquand Park, Princeton

Ages 18+
1st – Katelyn White, Eternal Love, Mercer County Park, Princeton Junction
2nd – Nancy Smith, Hope, Memorial Park, Neptune City
3rd – Charles Menjivar, Frolicking at South Mountain Reservation, South Mountain Reservation, Montclair


Ages 6-12
1st – Galina Bello, Lily Pad Pond in Full Bloom, Tenafly Nature Center, Tenafly
2nd – Tyler Hechtle, A Fall Walk, Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold

Ages 13-17
1st – Absnel Esteban, The Forgotten Bridge, Institute Woods, Princeton
2nd – Jaclyn Hammond, Evening Light, River Road Park, Bedminster
3rd – Jared Kofsky, Autumn Begins in the Park,  Brightwood Park, Westfield

Ages 18+
1st – Sandy Urgo, Fairytale Forest, Black River Wildlife Management Area, Randolph
2nd – Robert Pilkington, Summer Serenity, Leonard Buck Garden, Far Hills
3rd – Nicholas Scheibner, Sunset at Ramapo Lake,  Ramapo Mountain State Park, Wanaque

MEDIA:  Please credit winning photographers for any photos used with stories.




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Last Updated: December 22, 2011