Conservation Groups Ask Gov. Murphy to Fund Parks in NJ
State Parks, Forests, and Historic Sites are some of the most important places in our state and deserve proper funding.
Released February 27, 2023 by the Fix Our Parks Campaign
Twenty-one major state conservation organizations issued a joint letter to Governor Murphy ahead of his budget address requesting that he include significant funding to restore New Jersey’s state park system, state forests, wildlife management areas and open space preserves. Safe and accessible public lands are valuable to everyone, as time in nature is an important determinant of emotional and physical health. They are also important to the state’s economy and support thousands of jobs.
“Our parks and forests are in desperate need of protection from destructive activities like illegal off-road vehicle use and illegal dumping,” said Tom Gilbert, Co-Executive Director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.“The state must allocate more funds in the annual budget to increase staffing on public lands, including law enforcement officials to crack down on the unlawful behavior that damages these unique natural areas.”
“Our parks and forests are in desperate need of protection from destructive activities like illegal off-road vehicle use and illegal dumping.”Tom gilbert, new jersey conservation foundation
Our open spaces and state parks are suffering from underfunding resulting in a lack of staff to handle increasing visitor usage and historic resources are at risk of being lost due to a maintenance backlog. “The Fix Our Parks Campaign is calling for more maintenance staff and better funding to ensure that New Jersey residents and visitors have a high-quality experience when visiting state historic sites, parks, forests, and wildlife management areas”, said Jaclyn Rhoads, Assistant Executive Director of Pinelands Preservation Alliance.
“Many of our state’s most significant historic resources are on public lands. State parks and historic sites are recreational and educational assets that bring residents and visitors closer to nature and our heritage, and also do double-duty as economic drivers for tourism in our state’s rural regions,” says Alan Hunt, Director of Policy for the Musconetcong Watershed Association.
“When are we going to fund our state parks and other state land to be on a par with Pennsylvania and New York? At the present, our parks’ operating budget is one-third of Pennsylvania’s, one-sixth of New York’s, and two-thirds of the national average.” says Linda Barth, President of the D&R Canal Watch
The Fix Our Parks Campaign is advocating for an increase to the state budget from $16 million annually for park operations and law enforcement, to $52 million annually, on par with the national average, and to increase capital spending by $40 million annually, to $60 million annually, to end the $600 million dollar maintenance backlog in ten years by 2033.
The Musconetcong Watershed Association, Highlands Coalition, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, the D&R Canal Watch, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, NJ Audubon Society, Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association, Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Hopatcong Foundation, Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River, Delaware River Greenway Partnership, Appalachian Mountain Club, Raritan Headwaters, Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition, Canal Society of New Jersey, Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition, Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee, and the Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter are calling on Governor Murphy to increase funding for parks, historic sites, forests, and wildlife management areas statewide.
Fix Our Parks is a movement to ensure that New Jersey’s state parks and forests and wildlife management areas are protected and enhanced for future generations. Fix Our Parks is coordinated by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance along with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, New Jersey Highlands Coalition and D&R Canal Watch. Learn more at www.fixourparksnj.org.