Zwicker Bill to Fund Open Space Preservation Now Law

Appropriates $59.5M in Funds to Protect Land, Prevent Damage in Flood-Prone Areas

(Trenton, NJ) -- A bipartisan bill, sponsored by Assembly Andrew Zwicker, among others, to fund open space preservation is now law. The appropriation is the result of a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2014 to allow the state to use corporation business taxes to establish a stable source of financial support for open space preservation.

“The people of New Jersey cast their vote in 2014 and overwhelmingly supported open space preservation,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “By appropriating nearly $60 million in funding to protect land and water, the state is making sure that today’s residents, as well as future generations, can fully enjoy the character and beauty of New Jersey.”  

The new law (A-4597) appropriates $59.5 million to the Department of Environmental Protection to fund state acquisition of land for recreation and conservation purposes, including for Blue Acres projects, and for capital projects and park development on lands administered by the Division of Parks and Forestry and the Division of Fish and Wildlife pursuant to the “Preserve New Jersey Act.”

In addition to funds for outdoor recreation and protection of flood-prone areas, the measure provides funding for preservation endeavors. Projects within the 16th Legislative District that received funding under the new law include:

  • Crossroads of the American Revolution sites in Delaware, Flemington, Raritan, Readington, and Stockton in Hunterdon County, Princeton Borough in Mercer County and Branchburg, Hillsborough, Manville, Millstone, Montgomery, Rocky Hill and Somerville  in Somerset County;
  • the Delaware and Raritan Canal Greenway;
  • the Delaware River Bluffs;
  • the Nishisakawick Greenway;
  • the Lincoln Grove Preserve;
  • the Sourland Mountains; and
  • the Princeton Battlefield

The “Preserve New Jersey Act,” implements for fiscal years 2017 through 2019 the constitutional dedication of CBT revenues for open space, farmland and historic preservation.  The act dictates that of the 60 percent of dedicated CBT revenues allocated each year for the Green Acres program: 

  • 55 percent would be used for open space acquisition and development projects divided equally between open space and development projects
  • 38 percent would be used for grants and loans to fund local government open space acquisition and development projects and
  • 7 percent would be used for grants to fund open space acquisition and development projects undertaken by qualifying tax-exempt nonprofit organizations. 

All projects and appropriations have been approved by the DEP and the Garden State Preservation Trust. The measure was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie on Monday.