by Michele S. Byers, Executive Director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation
In this most densely populated state we’re in, visitors are almost always surprised when they see how much of New Jersey is not an industrial site off the N.J. Turnpike. Our state is still green, and still the Garden State!
The pace of our sprawl development has slowed with the real estate market downturn, but once that reverses, our remaining open spaces will again be threatened with pavement.
On Election Day, Nov. 3, voters can decide whether we will remain the Garden State or be doomed to the Strip Mall State. Now is truly the time to “choose it or lose it!”
Here are six reasons to vote yes on Ballot Question 1, which would continue state funding for preserving open space, farmland and historic sites:
1) It’s a wise investment. We all profit from the economic, physical and environmental health benefits of natural lands – cleaner air and water, flood control, better health through recreation opportunities and billions of dollars in revenue through hunting, fishing, ecotourism and historic tourism. And the high quality of life that comes with preserved land and clean water keeps our state’s economy competitive by enabling business to attract the most qualified employees.
2) Preserved lands protect our water supply. Highlands forests in northwestern New Jersey, for example, filter drinking water supplies for over half of New Jerseyans. But thousands of acres of forest remain unprotected.
3) State preservation funds are used to match local and county open space funds. From 2000 to 2006, even with open space funding at historic high levels, the state could not meet the demands and needs from local and county preservation projects. Without state funding to match local funding, municipal and county open space funds may dry up.
4) All New Jerseyans deserve parks to play in, trails to walk on, local farm stands to buy from, and clean rivers and lakes to swim and fish in. Choosing Ballot Question 1 will ensure continued funding for outdoor recreation and farms that provide “Jersey Fresh” produce.
5) A permanent source of funding to protect the best of New Jersey is critical. A yes vote will send a strong message to our legislators that New Jersey citizens support preservation and are willing to pay for it. A no vote will lessen the likelihood of persuading legislators to support a permanent funding source.
6) Thousands of acres of forests and farms are available at low prices due to the economic downturn. The time to preserve land is NOW, while the prices are still low!
We have come a long way in preserving the Garden State since the first open space ballot question was passed in 1961. From High Point State Park to Cape May State Park, New Jersey has protected a dazzling variety of open space treasures. Farmland has been preserved in almost every county – more than 1,800 farms totaling 176,500 acres!
On Nov. 3, voters must decide: will we choose to fund open space, farmland and historic preservation… or will we lose the next Liberty State Park, Island Beach State Park or Crystal Lake Park to pavement? Will we choose clean air, better health from recreation and billions in revenue… or will we lose clean water, property values and quality of life for current and future generations? Let’s “choose it” by voting YES on Ballot Question 1!
And I hope you will consult New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like more information about conserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources.
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