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Groups Call on Governor to Fund Open Space Now

Date : Wed, 12 Nov 2008 14:49:17 -0500

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release:

Contacts:

November 12, 2008 Kelly Mooij, New Jersey Audubon Society, 609-577-1434 Jeff Tittel, Sierra Club, 609-558-9100 Robin Dougherty, Greater Newark Conservancy, 973-642-4646 Tom Wells, The Nature Conservancy, 201-317-9655 Ron Emrich, Executive Director, Preservation New Jersey, 609-392-5409

                                               Tom Gilbert, Trust for Public Lands, 267-261-7325

Groups Call on Governor to Fund Open Space Now!

Trenton, New Jersey- Representatives of the Keep it Green Campaign joined together to call on Governor Corzine to fulfill his promise to renew open space preservation funding this fall. Speaking on behalf of the over 40 groups who signed on to a letter to the Governor released today, the representatives said that identifying funding for open space was their top priority this fall.

"Governor Corzine has promised for three years to re-authorize open space funding for New Jersey, and we are now out of money, time, and patience," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "This is the best time to invest in open space and parks, which will help grow the economy by providing jobs, stabilizing real estate markets, and creating recreational and tourism opportunities."

Funding open space will provide New Jersey citizens with a valuable commodity in this densely populated state. Funding preservation efforts can also help to bring stability to the sagging real estate market by giving landowners and developers other options and lands can be purchased at much lower cost now than might be possible in the future. Additionally, park development and historic preservation projects can bring vital jobs and value to communities, especially in urban areas while preservation of farmland will bring needed capital into an industry that heavily reinvests in itself.

"Preserving open space and building parks will create jobs and help the real estate market. If FDR could prioritize these during the Great Depression, Governor Corzine should do the same now by delivering on his oft-repeated commitment to renew and strengthen the state's preservation effort." stated Dave Pringle, Campaign Director for New Jersey Environmental Federation

The recent release of internal polls of Governor Corzine's approval ratings show that citizens of New Jersey note open space preservation as the singular identifiable success of Corzine's tenure.

"The New Jersey public has been in the dark about Governor Corzine's lack of leadership on funding for open space preservation, giving him high marks. New Jerseyans should revise that rating. No Governor for two decades has done less to preserve open space than Governor Corzine. Year after year, Governor Corzine's inaction has let the State's open space program wither on the vine, with no permanent funding solution in sight," said Dena Mottola Jaborska, Executive Director of Environment New Jersey.

Providing a stable source of funding for preservation allows for vital planning to ensure that the most important pieces of land are preserved and that development takes place in appropriate areas.

Robin Dougherty the Executive Director of the Greater Newark Conservancy gave an example. "Parks and recreational spaces are consistently ranked highly as key quality of life indicators, especially in urban areas where many communities have no back yards or playgrounds for children. Everyone, especially children should have equitable access to green and recreation spaces to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent chronic diseases and increase the wellbeing of inner city communities."

Representatives of the groups which had signed on to the letter provided other examples of the value and benefits of preservation and the importance of planning to preserve precious natural and historic resources.

"Historic preservation is a vital component of any effort to promote sustainable development. The conservation and rehabilitation of New Jersey's existing built resources, including re-use of historic and older buildings, greening the existing building stock, and reinvestment in older and historic communities, is crucial to combating climate change and reducing building site waste. Sustainable development by way of historic preservation, reuse of buildings, reduction in sprawl and urban revitalization provides great value to our communities while preserving historic treasures." said John Hatch, President of Preservation New Jersey

New Jersey has been a leader in open space preservation for more than four decades and is on the brink of becoming a laggard. New Jersey is losing land at a rate of 50 acres per day, the Garden State Preservation Trust is quickly running out of money and, at the current rate of appropriations, all of the funds will be recommended for appropriation by the end of this year. This will result in the first gap in State funding for these purposes in decades. It is vital to the State's well being that a stable source of funding be established to prevent the Trust from running out of funds.

"For the first time in decades, New Jersey is without a solid plan to fund its open space program - putting the government at odds with the voting public which continues to strongly support these programs," said Alison Mitchell, Policy Director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

On November 4th, New Jersey voters approved 14 of 22 county and local ballot measures to fund open space preservation, generating $191 million to continue or expand local open space trust funds. In Hunterdon County, 76% of voters approved continuing the existing 3-cent per $100 of assessed value open space tax indefinitely, rather than letting it expire next year.

"In towns across the State, voters made clear on Election Day that they are willing to continue investing in the protection of dwindling open spaces in their communities. We're now looking to Governor Corzine to advance this important issue for the good of all New Jersey," said Tom Gilbert, MidAtlantic Conservation Finance Director for Trust for Public Lands

The groups called upon the Governor to fulfill his promise to fund open space this fall.

"We urge you to remember your promise to address open space preservation funding by renewing and strengthening the Garden State Preservation Trust. You have an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for future generations of New Jerseyans by renewing the State's commitment to protect clean water, provide quality parks for our children, preserve farmland and historic sites, and protect our last remaining open spaces." said Thomas Gilmore, Chair of the New Jersey Keep it Green Campaign.

The New Jersey - Keep It Green Campaign is a coalition of over 100 organizations from across the state working to restore funding and to strengthen and renew the Garden State Preservation Trust. For more information on this Campaign, please visit www.NJKeepItGreen.org <http://www.njkeepitgreen.org/> .

###

November 12, 2008

The Honorable Jon S. Corzine Governor of New Jersey State House, PO Box 001 Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0001

Dear Governor Corzine:

We the undersigned member organizations of the New Jersey- Keep It Green coalition are writing to call on you to fulfill your pledge to the citizens of the State of New Jersey and deliver on your promise to renew and strengthen the Garden State Preservation Trust this fall. The below listed organizations believe that open space preservation and stewardship of that preserved land is one of the most important issues facing the State of New Jersey. Funding preservation and stewardship of open space, including urban, farmland and historic places, is our top priority.

New Jersey residents consistently rate clean drinking water as one of their top five priorities. Open space preservation will help to safeguard land and water resources which will protect drinking water as areas critical to our water supply receive additional protections and ill-planned expansion is further controlled. For these reasons, we believe that a fee on consumptive water use and diversion, used to fund land and water resource preservation efforts, is a viable funding source. We urge you to support this or propose a specific alternative which provides stable long-term funding.

While we recognize the difficult economic and fiscal climate we are facing, we believe that funding open space will provide New Jersey citizens with a valuable commodity in this the most densely populated state in the nation. Funding preservation efforts can help to bring stability to the sagging real estate market by giving landowners other options. Furthermore, lands can be purchased at much lower cost than might be possible in the future. Additionally, park development and historic preservation projects can bring vital jobs and value to communities, especially in urban areas, while preservation of farmland will bring needed capital into an industry that heavily reinvests in itself.

New Jersey has been a leader in open space preservation for more than four decades and we are on the brink of becoming a laggard. New Jersey is losing land at a rate of 50 acres per day, the Garden State Preservation Trust is quickly running out of money and, at the current rate of appropriations, all of the funds will be recommended for appropriation by the end of this year. This will result in the first gap in state funding for decades.

We urge you to remember your promise to address open space preservation funding by renewing and strengthening the Garden State Preservation Trust. You have an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for future generations of New Jerseyans by renewing the State's commitment to protect clean water, provide quality parks for our children, preserve farmland and historic sites, and protect our last remaining open spaces.

Sincerely,

American Littoral Society Audubon Wildlife Society Appalachian Mountain Club Conserve Wildlife Foundation Delaware Riverkeeper Network Delaware River Greenway Partnership D&R Canal Watch Environment New Jersey Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association Jersey Shore Chapter of Surfrider Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association Great Swamp Watershed Association Greater Newark Conservancy Hunterdon Coalition Ironbound Community Corporation Monmouth Conservation Foundation National Wild Turkey Federation NJ Highlands Coalition New Jersey Audubon Society New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club New Jersey Conservation Foundation New Jersey Environmental Federation New Jersey Environmental Lobby New Jersey Future New Jersey Recreation and Park Association New Jersey State Council of Trout Unlimited New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs New York- New Jersey Baykeeper New York- New Jersey Trail Conference Passaic River Coalition Pinelands Preservation Alliance Preservation New Jersey South Branch Watershed Association South Jersey Land and Water Trust Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association The Farm Bureau The Friends of Liberty State Park The Land Conservancy of New Jersey The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey The Tewksbury Land Trust Trust for Public Lands Washington Crossing Audubon Society Work Environment Council

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 2008-11-12 11:50:01

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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