Land preservation bills released from Assembly committee

TRENTON – The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee released three related land preservation bills totaling more than $120 million today. The vote was unanimous.

A Senate committee released the same bills earlier in the day.

 A3368: This bill appropriates $57 million to the Department of Environmental Protection to provide funding for state acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including for Blue Acres projects.

Of this funding, this bill appropriates $45 million from the “2009 Green Acres Fund” to the DEP.    

 In addition, this bill appropriates $12 million from the “2009 Blue Acres Fund” for the acquisition of properties that are prone to flood or storm damage.

A3369: This bill appropriates $55 million from the “2009 Green Acres Fund” to the Department of Environmental Protection  to provide grants or low-interest loans, or both, to assist municipalities to acquire or develop lands for recreation and conservation purposes. 

This bill also provides $2.4 million to local governments for three “coastal blue acres projects” with funds provided by the “Green Acres, Farmland and Historic Preservation, and Blue Acres Bond Act of 1995.”  The total amount of funding allocated for local government projects that are listed in this bill is $57,400,800. 

A3370: The bill appropriates $8.93 million from the “2009 Green Acres Fund” to provide grants to nonprofit entities to acquire or develop lands for recreation and conservation purposes.

Of that amount, $6.63 million is allocated for acquisition projects and $2.3 million is allocated for park development projects.

Committee Chair Assemblywoman Grace Spencer said there are several hundred thousand acres that need to be captured and preserved. These bills represent the final round of funding under the 2009 fund, and she said supporters of preservation and lawmakers will have to work together to ensure future funding.

Jeff Tittel of the N.J. Sierra Club talked about funding going forward. No one wants to talk about fees, he told the panel, but perhaps something like a water fee is an idea whose time has come.

He said the last time they looked at such an idea, some years back, they figured that at less than a penny per hundred gallons, they could generate perhaps $5 a year per household, or $150 million a year. Land preservation bills released from Assembly committee