Friday, February 20, 2009

New Jersey Considers
a Bond to Save its Parks
Washington isn't the only state with its state parks and forests on the chopping block. California. Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, and New Jersey (and I'm sure there are a few other states too) are all considering closing and sunsetting some of their state parks. Citizens in Illinois rebelled by holding their legislators' feet to the fire (a state not exactly known for harboring honest politicians-Sorry Abe- but look at what is currently coming out of the Land of Lincoln) demanding that they not close their parks.
And in New Jersey, a state with the highest population density but also one with the strongest support for open space among its populace, Garden Staters are also demanding that their parks and forests not be closed. Hey-you gotta problem wit dat?
Witness- according to the Trust for Public Land

Last November, New Jersey voters approved funds for open space, despite the poor economy. On November 4, 2008 voters nationwide approved $7.3 billion in new public money to protect land for parks and open space-the highest amount ever according to The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization. The increase can be attributed in large part to the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy constitutional amendment accounting for $5.5 billion. Overall, 62 out of 87 measures (or 71 percent) were passed by voters. In New Jersey, voters approved 14 of 22 county and municipal measures generating $191 million in conservation funding. New Jersey had more open space ballot measures than any other state.

And now this year, Governor Corzine has called on the New Jersey Legislature to place an Open Space Bond Referendum on the 2009 November Ballot to thwart closing of parks and forests as well as acquiring additional lands.

According to New Jersey's Keep it Green Campaign:

Although Governor Corzine prefers a “long-term funding solution” for open space preservation, which he recognized as “an area of vital importance and concern” to New Jerseyans, he urged the Legislature to place an interim bonding question on the November 2009 ballot in his State of the State address.

These are certainly trying times for our state government agencies. And while many have been bloated and corrupted and abused, parks departments have not-in fact many of them were underfunded even during the boom times. In Washington, with its 8 billion dollar deficit (Thanks Christine- you told us before the election that we had no deficit-and enough naive voters believed you-thanks for spending our state into financial despair) our reckless-with-our-wallets governor wants to close parks to make up for her spending indiscretions of the past. How about getting creative or at least offer some alternatives to funding than letting the parks go. Ask the voters what they want to do with their parks (and maybe how to fund some of the other agencies as well). And voters if you cherish your parks-you better be willing to start putting your money where your hearts and boots are!

(photo-The Appalachian Trail traverses this New Jersey Natural gem, Worthington State Forest)

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