Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

The state is making $67.4 million in Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres program funding available for open space, recreation and stewardship projects in Morris County and across the state, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin has announced.

depThe DEP’s Green Acres program is accepting applications immediately from municipalities, counties and nonprofit groups for grants and loans for land acquisitions, park development and stewardship projects.

Applications for this latest funding round are due to the Green Acres program by February 15, 2017. Applications are available at: www.state.nj.us/dep/greenacres/pdflaunch.html#applications

“Preservation of open space for people to enjoy nature and recreational opportunities is important to enhancing the quality of life in New Jersey,” said Commissioner Martin. “We have a long tradition of continuously expanding our impressive inventory of open spaces and parks as a way of ensuring that everyone has ample opportunities to find places to unwind, get together and enjoy healthy activities.”

“We’re glad to see that the state is continuing it’s Green Acres Program which has provided matching dollars for many county, municipal and non-profit open space preservation efforts,” said Morris County Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “Those open space projects have preserved many key parcels, allowing our county to maintain a high quality of life for our residents.”

Open space projects in Morris County funded through the last DEP Green Acres funding round include:

open-spaceChester Twp. Open Space Acquisition, $205,000; Hanover Twp. Open Space Acq., $300,000; Lincoln Park floodplain project, $550,000; Long Hill Passaic River Basin Open Space Acq., $500,000; Harding Twp Open Space Acq. $550,000; Madison Open Space Acq., $500,000; Mendham Twp. Open Space Acq. $187,800; Pequannock Planning Incentive Grant, $302,000; Rockaway Twp Open Space Acq $550,000; and Morris County received  a County Planning Incentive Grant of $1,175,000.

There also were grants awarded to non-profit groups and land trusts for projects that affected Morris County.

The 2017 Green Acres program will evaluate the applications and prepare a recommended list of awards for presentation to the Garden State Preservation Trust for approval. Funds awarded to governments and organizations can be used for a wide variety of projects, such as preservation of nature preserves and wildlife habitats, creation of urban waterfront parks and greenways, and development of athletic fields and playgrounds.

Green Acres funding allows county and local governments and nonprofits to leverage millions of additional preservation dollars through matching federal, state, county and local funds, as well as from private sources.puzio

For the first time, the Green Acres program also will accept applications for land stewardship activities. Land stewardship is defined as an activity that goes beyond routine maintenance to restore and enhance lands for recreational and conservation purposes.

New Jersey has long been a leader in preservation of open space. The Green Acres program was created in 1961 as the result of an innovative bond referendum, and is the oldest continuing program of its kind in the nation.

“Today, natural areas, parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, boat ramps, docks, and fishing piers acquired and developed through the Green Acres program reach into every corner of the state and every landscape, from cities and suburbs, to farmlands and villages, and to mountains and forests,” Commissioner Martin said.

DEP Announces $67.4 Million Available for 2017 Open Space, Recreation and Stewardship ProjectsTogether with public and private partners, the Green Acres program has directly protected more than 680,000 acres – or more than 1,060 square miles.

The program has also funded hundreds of recreational areas that provide a wide range of activities, including city parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, boat ramps, docks, fishing piers, natural areas and environmental education.

A study by Penn State University concluded that investments in parks and recreational services have a positive effect on health and fitness and may result in less strain on the health care system.

Studies also demonstrate that people are more likely to be more physically active if they live close to parks and recreational sites.

In addition to providing recreational opportunities, Green Acres projects help protect water quality and stimulate economic development by creating jobs. This makes cities and towns more attractive places to live and work.

For more information about the Green Acres Program visit: www.NJGreenAcres.org

Also, get more information on Morris County’s Preservation Trust on open space, historic and farmland preservation, plus flood mitigation land purchases.