NJ Green Acres

Draft Legislation Keeps NJ DEP Development Funding at $15 Million

Outdoor recreationalists of all stripes–whether they be hikers, bikers, runners, horseback riders, or hunters–can generally agree that it’s important to have funding to expand and improve the natural areas they love. That’s why the open spaces bill SCR84 was voted through on November 4 of last year. With the success of the ballot measure, however, comes the trickier discussion of exactly how this open space funding is to be allocated.

The Keep It Green Coalition, of which the Trail Conference is a member, has pushed to see that the new Green Acres distribution equals the previous Corporate Business Tax (CBT) dedication of $15 million annually to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Because the Trail Conference partners with State Parks and State Forests extensively to help serve the public on the trails we love, we have supported the measure.

We’re very happy to say that this push has paid off and the sponsoring senators are keeping their pledge–the new proposed allocation keeps DEP development funding at the $15 million level it was previously. The following discussion points go into more depth, but the core message is that our state partners will continue to be funded as before. There is a downside: It does not provide all the funds that we need for land acquisition, and that is an issue we must continue to fight for. Nonetheless, we have secured a continuing source of open space funding through 2045--and it is one that continues to support the State Parks and Forests where our volunteers and members work and recreate.

Talking points: 
-The legislation only allocates the funds for FY16-FY19, leaving the allocation when the funds ramp up in FY20 and beyond to be determined -$15 million for state lands is included under the umbrella of 'Development' which encompasses capital and stewardship projects -Excluding the $15 million for state land development/capital/stewardship, the remainder of the $71 million is allocated 59.5% to Green Acres (including 5% to Blue Acres), 36.7% to farmland preservation, and 3.8% to Historic Preservation. -Of the $15 million allocated to DEP for development/capital/stewardship, 44% (approx. $6.6 million) is allocated to the Depts. of Fish & Wildlife, and Parks & Forestry for stewardship (22% to each). -Excluding the $15 million for development, the State would receive 32.8% of Green Acres funds, and county/local governments would receive 56.7% of Green Acres funds. -Non-profits would receive 10.4% of Green Acres funding (not including the $15 million for development). This is essentially the same percentage as in the past, though not the full 12% we recommended. 11% of non-profit grants would be allocated to Stewardship (approx. $546,000). 2% of county/local grants under Green Acres would be allocated to Stewardship (approx. $345,000). -3% of SADC funds would be allocated to stewardship (approx. $617,000). There is no minimum requirement for non-profit grants under SADC. -Stewardship is defined as an activity which may be beyond routine operations and maintenance, undertaken by the state, a local government unit, or a qualifying tax-exempt nonprofit organization to repair, restore or improve lands acquired or developed for recreation and conservation purposes or acquire for farmland preservation purposes for the purposes of enhancing or protecting those lands for recreation and conservation purposes or farmland preservation purposes. -The language allowing for emergency interventions and preservation easements under the NJ Historic Trust is included -Under each program, funds for admin are capped at 5% -Language is included requiring that funds from conveyances or leases on any land unit reside with that unit for conservation and recreation purposes

New Jersey Green Acres

Results: Voters approved this ballot question.

Vote YES on Question 2

On Nov. 4, New Jersey voters will have the opportunity to vote on Question 2, a measure that, if approved, would dedicate a percentage of existing corporate business tax revenues on a long-term basis to ensure reliable funding for land and water protection efforts.

The Trail Conference urges a YES vote on Question 2. This referendum is not perfect, but it is the only chance we have to secure permanent funds for land acquisition and parks improvement, as well as stewardship of parks.

After passage, it is then incumbent on the Trail Conference, the New Jersey Keep It Green Coalition, and everyone with an interest in preserving our parks to ensure the enabling legislation allocates a significant portion of the funds for parks improvement.

Furthermore, we will need to continue working to ensure parks receive adequate annual budgets.


Under the leadership of both parties, New Jersey has dedicated an average of $200 million a year for open space funding since the creation of the Garden State Preservation Trust in 1998. Most recently, voters approved the Green Acres, Water Supply and Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2009, authorizing $400 million for open space, farmland and historic preservation. Bills that appropriated the first half of the 2009 bond funds were signed into law in August of 2011. 

NJ Keep It Green represents more than 180 statewide, local and regional organizations--including the Trail Conference--committed to land conservation, agriculture, historic preservation, environmental protection, urban parks, hunting and fishing, and other forms of outdoor recreation, working together to sustain funding for the preservation and stewardship of New Jersey's waterways, wildlife habitat, natural areas, farmland, forests, parks and historic sites for our quality of life and future generations.

NJ Keep It Green led successful campaigns to pass statewide ballot measures in 2006, 2007 and 2009 generating $600 million for state open space, farmland and historic preservation programs, as well as dedicated annual funding for capital improvements to state parks and other public lands. Since 2012, when funds were set to run out, NJKIG has conducted a Sustainable Funding Campaign to secure a sustainable source of funding for the preservation and stewardship of New Jersey's natural, recreational and historic treasures for generations to come.
Keep up with news on the issue at our NJ Keep It Green coalition website: http://www.njkeepitgreen.org/
Issue Updates : 

February 9, 2015: Draft Legislation Keeps NJ DEP Development Funding at $15 Million 

August 4, 2014: Assembly Votes to Put Open Space Funding to Public Vote in November.

January 7, 2014: Senate to Vote Thursday, Jan. 9, on 2014 Conservation Funding Proposal

Dec. 13, 2013: NJ lawmakers consider two proposals to fund land preservation

Dec. 9, 2013: Support is growing for a proposal to dedicate 2.4% of the state's existing sales tax to conservation. The bill must be approved by the state Senate and Assembly and then by voters in a referendum. Contact your representatives now and urge them to support SCR165, and get it on the ballot in November. The bill is to be considered by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee this Thursday.

NJ Keep It Green Campaign

The NJ Keep It Green Campaign represents 135 statewide, local and regional organizations ranging from clean water groups to sportsmen's groups to affordable housing and urban park advocates working to secure funding to protect our clean water, natural areas, farmland, parks and historic sites for our benefit today and for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.

Issue Updates : 


The Keep It Green Campaign or Garden State Preservation Trust's mission is 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 in New Jersey.

It consists of a three year bond worth $300 million. It will cost each family aproximently $16, less than a trip to McDonald's.

Keep up with KIG at NJKeepItGreen.org


The Keep It Green Campaign impacts the State of New Jersey in a variety of ways, through preservation of historic national landmarks, protecting agricultural land and important watersheds.

-Average home price goes up by 16% when located near permanently preserved land
-Value of a vacant lot goes up by 35%
-Parks contribute 20% of the value in homes in urban areas
-Properties listed on a historic register benefit from at least a 5% increase in market value

Workforce Benefits:


-Every $1 million spent on rehabbing historic residential buildings creates 29 jobs

-Every $1 million spent on rehabbing historic non-residential buildings creates 38 jobs
-Every $1 million spent on non-residential historic rehabilitation creates 2 more jobs spent on same money spent on new construction
-7,000 jobs are supported by their pubic recreation lands
-The development of two small parks in Brick Township for 1.5 million created 38 jobs

Preservation issues

Delaware river
-Need funds to purchase blue acres or flood prone areas to mitigate flooding and safeguard public welfare

Historic Preservation
-Over 1600 historic sites in NJ only 273 have received funding for rehabilitation
In order to help provide a stable base for agriculture in NJ 450,000 acres need to be preserved

Agricultural Preservation
-Agricultural land has decreased by 72,000 acres or 9% loss from 2002-2007.
-Since 1978, 254,000 acres have been converted to other uses, primarily residential
-In order to help provide a stable base for agriculture in NJ, 450,000 acres need to be preserved

Pinelands Preservation
-30,000 acres in the Pinelands have yet to be preserved

Barnegat bay watershed
-76,000 acres must be preserved to protect this important watershed area

Highlands Preservation
-1.3 billion is needed to acquire priority lands in the Highlands region and ensure the protection of water for over half the population of NJ
-10 years of constant funding will allow the Highlands counsel to meet its mandate

-State has 2 million acres up for grabs
-81% of Green Acre Program Grants remain unfunded
-67% of historic preservation grants remain unfunded
-70% of applications for grants for trails remain unfunded

Helping to build urban parks
-More than half of NJ adults or overweight or obese
-Less than 40% of NJ adults use exercise frequently

-Critical that parks are built within 10 minutes away from residential areas



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