FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2023
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Vincent Grassi (609) 984-1795
(23/P015) TRENTON – Local governments and eligible nonprofit organizations interested in acquiring open space, creating or rehabilitating parks, completing stewardship projects, or creating inclusive playgrounds are invited to apply for Green Acres grant and loan funding, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced today.
Funding for 2023 will be used to advance the DEP’s environmental justice and climate change priorities by prioritizing projects that offer equitable and meaningful public access and maximize social, environmental and health benefits to the public, particularly in neighborhoods identified as Adversely Stressed Overburdened Communities. These communities are so designated because they have a combined stressor total higher than the 50th percentile for total environmental and public health stressors. Projects located in or easily accessible by these communities will be eligible for new funding incentives.
The Green Acres Program is just one source for project funding. Another is the Urban Parks Program, which is funded by a state budget appropriation and will be offered again in 2023. Applications for both Green Acres and Urban Parks funding will be accepted until Wednesday, March 1.
"From our incredible Green Acres investments in local parks, to our historic investments in local parks, to our historic investments in the restoration of natural resources throughout the state, including at Liberty State Park, the Murphy Administration has put its money where its heart is,“ Commissioner LaTourette said. ”Though this new round of Green Acres funding, we will accelerate our work to put all of New Jersey's residents in touch with their environment, with a long overdue focus on those communities that have not shared equally in the environmental and recreational benefits our great state has to offer."
”Strengthening DEP’s investments in natural capital and community development supports sustainable economic growth that restores, preserves and protects New Jersey’s natural, recreational, cultural and historic resources, “ said Assistant Commissioner for Community Investment and Economic Revitalization Elizabeth Dragon. ”This is why it is vitally important for every New Jersey community to have clean and safe areas to gather, play and enjoy nature, all of which lead to an enhanced quality of life.“
”Green Acres’ far-reaching investments across New Jersey continue to ensure that every community in our state benefits from the values of environmental justice,“ said Martha Sapp, Director of the DEP’s Green Acres Program. ”When we provide parks and open space in our communities, we are investing in our residents and the promise of future generations.“
Eligible projects for funding consideration include the following:
Green Acres funding, which includes:
Acquisition: The purchase of land for active or passive recreation or for natural resource conservation;
Park development: Projects that provide for outdoor games and sports, boating, fishing, walking, swimming, biking, picnicking, camping, or nature interpretation;
Stewardship: Natural resource enhancement activities on recreation and conservation lands;
Jake’s Law: Available to counties for the construction of completely inclusive playgrounds.
Urban Parks funding: Available to local governments for land acquisition, park development and historic preservation projects located in or easily accessible by Adversely Stressed Overburdened Communities in Urban Aid municipalities.
Two question-and-answer sessions on all types of applications were offered earlier this month. Overviews about Green Acres and Urban Parks acquisition projects, as well as park development, stewardship and Jake’s Law projects, were offered in January.
The Green Acres Program will prioritize projects that contribute to resilience or mitigate climate change impacts, such as by preserving forested and flood-prone areas, enhancing chronically inundated wetlands, revegetating riparian areas, connecting wildlife corridors, expanding upstream flood attenuation potential, promoting wildlife and including green infrastructure into park designs.
To prepare for the application process, the Green Acres Program invited local governments and nonprofits to a series of stakeholder meetings in September to discuss new funding opportunities and proposed changes in application, eligibility and project administration requirements. Based on those conversations, recordings of which are available on the Green Acres Program website, Green Acres has provided additional guidance in its application and extended the application period.
Since the number of project applications typically exceeds available funding, the Green Acres Program will only consider funding requests from new applicants or from applicants making significant progress on open projects and following Green Acres rules on their parkland. Green Acres will review and rank the applications it receives and then send to the Garden State Preservation Trust a list of projects recommended for funding. The Trust will forward the approved list to the state Legislature for appropriation.
The Green Acres Program recently celebrated its 60th anniversary and is the oldest continuous program of its kind in the nation. The program, with public and nonprofit partner agencies, has protected more than 720,000 acres of open space and provided funds to develop hundreds of outdoor recreational facilities statewide.
To learn more about the Green Acres Program and these great opportunities, visit www.NJGreenAcres.org
Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP
Photo page 2: Courtesy Suburban Consulting Engineers, Inc.