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Paddle Merrill Creek Reservoir
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Fossil Fuels and Their Impacts... And, What Else To Do
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The Dangers of the Pilgrim Pipleline

Banner Day for Open Space

Date : Fri, 29 Aug 2008 10:35:07 -0400

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release:

Contacts:

August 29, 2008 Jeff Tittel, Sierra Club, 609-558-9100 Eric Stiles, NJ Audubon Society, 908-240-9316

Banner Day for Open Space

This Saturday, thousands of New Jersey residents will head to the beaches and shore-area parks for one last summer weekend. The Keep It Green Campaign will be there too. The campaign has hired a plane to fly from Cape May to Sandy Hook towing a banner that asks New Jersey residents to call the governor and urge him to provide funding for open space preservation now.

"Governor Corzine has promised to renew open space funding on several occasions, but he has yet to deliver," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "Today we are calling on the governor to keep his promise and keep New Jersey green."

"At the shore today, the Blue Skies are the Green Skies!" added Eric Stiles, Vice President of Conservation and Stewardship for the New Jersey Audubon Society. "This banner will remind citizens that there is important work that remains to be completed and they need to hold their elected officials accountable."

Although the people of New Jersey have shown time and time again through polls and, more importantly, the passage of dozens of ballot measures that they believe open space should be funded, the Garden State Preservation Trust (GSPT), the funding mechanism for the state's open space, farmland, and historic preservation programs, is out of money. The last of the money for the farmland program was appropriated in July, and all of the remaining money for the open space program, also known as Green Acres, is expected to be officially appropriated before the end of the year.

With the help of Green Acres matching grant funds and private contributors, the Nature Conservancy has created 37 nature preserves in New Jersey encompassing over 21,000 acres, which are available for public enjoyment," remarked Tom Wells, Director of Government Relations for the group. "However, with the end of Green Acres funds on the horizon, we and many other conservation organizations, counties, and municipalities will have to curtail preservation activities, and areas important to the preservation of wildlife and water supplies will be lost to development."

"This state can not afford to take a giant step backward in our preservation efforts," concurred Judith Stanley Coleman, President of Monmouth Conservation Foundation. "Our citizens must call on their elected officials to renew funds for open space and farmland preservation before it is too late."

Despite the work of the Keep It Green Campaign and thousands of emails, letters, and calls to legislators and the governor over the past two years, the state has still failed to provide funding to this vital program.

"In this tight economy, preserving New Jersey's open spaces is the smartest investment we can make," explained Jennifer Coffey, Director of Watershed Management for Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association. "Open spaces protect our drinking water, provide free and healthy places for families to explore, and shelter nature's wild places. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in our great nation, and the time to save our last remaining open spaces is now."

"We cannot afford not to renew open space funding," agreed Dave Pringle, Campaign Director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation. "Soon it will be too late to preserve what little open space we still have as we march toward build out and real estate values rebound sky high. This is why we have this plane in the sky. The governor needs to fulfill his repeatedly broken promise to do so."

"Governor Corzine has let the Garden State Trust Fund run dry and we need him to immediately act to replenish its funding. Every month that goes by with no funding for open space will mean more permanent loss of green space that is so critical to New Jersey's quality of life. With only 15 years left before New Jersey reaches full build out, we cannot wait. GSPT funds must be renewed this fall," added Dena Mottola Jaborska, Executive Director of Environment New Jersey.

"New Jersey's commitment to the protection of the Highlands - and the water supply the region provides - is not complete without a fully-funded Garden State Preservation Trust. The Highlands are at risk if we can't preserve these lands forever on behalf of the public," explained Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition.

"The New Jersey Historic Trust's grants programs will soon end without renewed and stable funding," added John Hatch, President of Preservation New Jersey. "Historic places that give our communities character are at risk, and the opportunities for community revitalization and renewal that would be lost will only encourage more loss of open space and farmland, more sprawl and unsustainable development."

"New Jersey was once known as the leader in open space preservation with many thousands of acres preserved and a storied history of close to half a century, noted Stiles. "Where once New Jersey was a leader, it will soon become a laggard as the state draws ever closer to the first break in annual open space acquisition funding in over two decades. This historic lack of funding will devastate open space preservation and thousands of acres of land could be forever lost to development."

Despite these challenges, the Keep it Green Campaign continues to work actively to promote important legislation which would allow voters to support open space initiatives and would preserve our beautiful open space and precious habitat and natural resources.

"As New Jerseyans enjoy the state's many outstanding beaches and parks with their families over Labor Day weekend, we hope they'll take a minute to let the governor know that we can't afford to let funds run out for preservation efforts that are critical to protecting clean water and providing parks for people to enjoy," concluded Tom Gilbert of the Trust for Public Land.

The Keep It Green Campaign is a coalition of more than 100 organizations from across the state working to strengthen and renew the Garden State Preservation Trust. The coalition seeks to secure a long-term stable source of funding for the acquisition of open space, farmland and historic sites as well as the capital improvement, operation, maintenance, and stewardship of state and local natural areas, parks and historic sites. For more information, please visit www.NJKeepItGreen.org <http://www.njkeepitgreen.org/> .

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***Please contact Tom Gilbert at (267) 261-7325 if you would like to be alerted when the plane is nearing a key location.

Becca Glenn, Program Assistant New Jersey Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609-656-7612: phone

609-656-7618: fax

Received on 2008-08-29 10:40:06

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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Page Last Modified 8/29/2008


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