WCAS NewsOpen Space Funding Will Help Keep NJ Green
Pat Sziber
Open Space Funding Will Help Keep NJ Green

Pat Sziber

On July 31, Governor Jon Corzine signed legislation to place a critical question on the November 6, 2007 ballot. Known as the Green Acres, Farmland, Blue Acres and Historic Preservation Act of 2007, the legislation would authorize the state to issue $200 million in general obligation bonds to fund the state’s Garden State Preservation Trust (GSPT) for one year. It is now in the hands of the voters.

This funding will bridge the gap in the expiring GSPT funding, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 1998. A long-term, stable source of funding for GSPT will still be needed, but that will be addressed in the future.

Right now, it is important that we all make a commitment to vote in support of this ballot question and urge others to do so as well. There are many reasons why this funding is vital to our future. In its first eight years, GSPT funding has enabled municipalities, counties and nonprofits to make tremendous strides in preserving open space and farmland throughout the state. Despite this impressive success and the near depletion of Green Acres and Farmland Preservation funds, New Jersey is still losing 40 acres to development each day. Much is at stake if we break the momentum of the past decade. Consider the services provided by preserved open space and farmland:

  • Safeguards quantity and quality of drinking water supplies
  • Helps keep rivers and streams clear and clean
  • Conserves habitat
  • Provides recreational opportunities
  • Encourages local food production
  • Protects forests, which clean the air and sequester CO2
  • Preserves rural vistas
  • Prevents overdevelopment
  • Protects our quality of life
  • Saves tax-dollars in the long-run

Part of the $200 million will also go toward preservation of our historic treasures and—a new item this round—the Blue Acres program, which will purchase blocks of flood-prone properties.

What you can do: Let’s not break our stride. The Keep It Green Campaign, a coalition of more than 90 groups including Washington Crossing Audubon, is working hard to promote passage of this funding by voters on November 6. There are several ways you can help. Go to www.OutdoorRecreationAlliance.org and look at the list of coalition members. If you know of another group that might sign on, put them in touch with Joanna Wolaver, Keep It Green Campaign Coordinator, via the ORA website. Then start drafting a letter to the editor of your local or regional newspaper pointing out why voters should support the question. Check the ORA website in late August for the ballot question number, which was not yet assigned as of this writing. There you will find other information and tips under "Get Involved." Talk it up with your friends and neighbors, share WCAS action alerts with them and remind all to vote "yes" for open space on November 6.


Suggestions to WCAS If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact either of the following:

Go to Washington Crossing Audubon Society Homepage Go to Conservation Web page Go to Field Trips Web page Go to Bird Checklist Web page Go to Web Links Web page Go to Officers and Board Web page
Last revision: Sunday, August 19, 2007