Trenton, NJ – Members of the Keep it Green Coalition celebrated the signing of permanent implementation language allocating constitutionally dedicated open space, farmland, and historic preservation and stewardship funding into law by Governor Murphy. S2920, which unanimously passed the state legislature earlier this year and was signed into law earlier today, provides the necessary language to continue funding open space, farmland, and historic preservation projects consistent with the 2014 constitutional dedication supported by 65% of voters.
“New Jersey’s preservation programs are some of the most successful in the country,” said Ed Potosnak, Chair of the Keep It Green Coalition and Executive Director of New Jersey LCV. “The efforts of our partners in the Coalition and thanks to the continued support of New Jersey Voters this important work can continue.” “We are thrilled that Governor Murphy has signed the bipartisan implementation language into law and ensure that open space, park, forest, historic and farmland preservation continues unabated.” “We thank sponsors—Senators Smith, Bateman, and Greenstein and Assembly members McKeon, Pinkin and Zwicker—for the continued leadership and commitment to preserving and stewarding open spaces in the country’s most densely populated state.”
The constitutional dedication, along with this legislation, provides consistent and reliable funds for multiple programs critical to the lives of current and future New Jerseyans including Green Acres, Blue Acres, park development, farmland preservation, and historic preservation. Each of these programs has direct impacts on the lives of our citizens such as increasing quality of life, ensuring family farmers can continue producing locally grown fresh products, and preserving our rich cultural heritage for future generations.
“The passage of this legislation ensures predictability and transparency in funding for open space, farmland and historic preservation and stewardship. This bi-partisan legislation ensures voter-dedicated funds are available for projects around the State that protect water quality, safeguard wildlife habitat, promote outdoor recreation, help our agriculture industry, and defend our shared historic resources. We are excited for the announcement of funding rounds for these programs in the near future,” said Drew Tompkins, Coordinator of Keep It Green and Policy Manager for New Jersey Audubon.
By passing ballot question 2 in 2014, New Jersey voters made history by providing a consistent year after year funding mechanism for open space, farmland, and historic preservation. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country and projected to be the first state to reach build out, which makes preserving the precious remaining open space vital to the future health and prosperity of the families of the state.
“Land preservation is critical to protecting our water resources, especially in locations such as the Highlands and Pinelands, as well as reducing flooding along our coasts and waterways, ensuring the state will continue producing high quality produce, and enhancing the overall quality of life New Jerseyans by providing access to parks, trails, and wildlife,” said Tompkins said.
“The allocation of money from the Corporate Business Tax provides sorely needed funding that will enable the New Jersey Historic Trust to once again provide significant capital grants for the restoration of historic sites in New Jersey,” said Deborah Kelly of the New Jersey Historic Trust. “It is critical to have funds flowing to historic preservation – providing jobs and economic stimulus throughout the state.”
“This monumental conservation achievement continues New Jersey’s legacy as a national land conservation leader,” said David Epstein, President of The Land Conservancy of New Jersey.
“We are encouraged by New Jersey’s ongoing leadership on this issue. The continuation of sustainable funding for open space is critical, as the state plans for resiliency and climate change,” said Barbara Brummer, State Director at The Nature Conservancy.
Additionally, studies show that for every 1 dollar invested in open space preservation, there is a 10 dollar yield by way of economic benefits which come in the form of ecosystem services (such as water purification, waste treatment and flood mitigation), natural goods (such as fish and farm products), and outdoor recreation activities across the entire state.
“The passage and signing of this bill is a very significant step in reducing the backlog of long needed renovations to facilities in our state parks and forests. Increasing the investment in our parks, forests and natural areas will mean improved visitor experiences for the 18 million plus visitors to our parks each year,” said Bill Foelsch, President NJ Parks and Recreation Association.
Preserved land continues to have significant effects for generations after the initial investment. Open spaces protect our water resources and provide enhanced quality of life. Because of land preserved today, our children and their children will have a plentiful source of clean drinking water, parks and trails where they can play and explore, and a generally higher quality of life.
“This bill guarantees that New Jersey will have critical and consistent funding to effectively support its open space, farmland, and historic preservation priorities,” said Patricia Ruby, executive director of Hunterdon Land Trust. “We are excited to see this measure pass after years of hard work by so many individuals and organizations.”
“We are thrilled Governor Murphy signed this bill, which ensures that we can continue to save lands that protect our drinking water, provide outdoor places for children to play, grow fresh foods and provide habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife!” said Alison Mitchell, Policy Director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “Thanks also to the New Jersey legislature for ensuring the future of our successful preservation program, here in the nation’s most densely populated state.”
Open space preservation is a unique issue within New Jersey. While many issues divide New Jerseyans, land preservation is strongly supported on both sides of the aisle, all across the state. The 2014 ballot measure passed with support from both republicans and democrats and won a majority of support in every county.
About New Jersey Keep It Green: NJ Keep It Green is a coalition of more than 150 park and conservation organizations working to create a long-term, dedicated source of funding for the preservation and stewardship of New Jersey’s natural areas, waterways, parks, farmland, and historic sites. For more information visit NJKeepItGreen.org. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.