Since the 1960’s New Jersey has purchased nearly three quarters of a million acres under its Green Acres program. This program has provided numerous recreational opportunities for residents, as well as preserving habitat for wildlife.
With the state’s fiscal crisis and Governor Christie’s emphasis on cutting spending, many environmentalists and outdoors enthusiast feared that this program would become a victim of the tough economic times.
Those fears were allayed last week when Governor Christie signed three bills totaling $157 million dollars, dedicated to keeping this program alive. Christie said “These bills continue the Garden State’s proud tradition as a nationally recognized leader in land conservation efforts”. He added “New Jersey is already the most densely populated state in America, so this type of preservation of open space is good for our environment.”
The signing was praised by environmentalists. NJ Audubon’s Kelly Mooj said “With this action, the governor continues a tradition of 50 years of wise investment in our future, protecting what makes New Jersey a great place to live, raise a family and do business”. Jeff Tittle, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, also applauded the bills but tempered his enthusiasm by warning “We can’t keep going from bond act to bond act. We need a stable source of funding for open space”.
The bills fund projects in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties, including land preservation in the NJ Highlands, protection of islands and wetlands in Barnegat Bay, the refurbishing of Great Falls Park in Paterson and the creation of a waterfront park along the Passaic River in Newark’s Ironbound section.