Monday, March 1, 2010

New Jersey's "Keep it Green" Environmental Campaign

By Katie Lukshis

An interesting environmental campaign is New Jersey’s Keep it Green Campaign, acting to preserve parks, natural areas, clean water, farmland and historic treasures. What makes it such an effective campaign is that it is a coalition of over 145 statewide, local and regional organizations, with the mission to secure a long-term source of funding for the acquisition and preservation of open space and local natural areas throughout the state. Keeping these areas as part of our natural landscape and not turning them into industries or developments is important for the communities that rely on them for a high quality of life, livable neighborhoods and sustainable economies.

In November 2009, a majority of New Jersey voters approved a referendum investing in preserving land, water and history for citizens today and future generations. Funding through government bonds has been provided for the Green Acres Program, the Farmland Preservation Program, and the NJ Historic Trust, which also gives New Jersey a two-year period to identify a long-term funding source for these programs. Approved funding for this campaign includes $400 million, which will be used for: preserving sources of clean drinking water, protecting water quality in rivers/lakes/streams, preserving wildlife habitat, working farms, historic sites and natural areas, and investing in ecological resources that save on high costs of degradation, protect New Jersey’s eco-tourism industries, and create jobs restoring natural and historical landmarks.

What’s great about this campaign is the strong citizen support that has been provided and is still being provided in order to ensure proper funding and preservation happens. Citizens truly care about New Jersey’s wide range of environmental beauty being preserved. The benefits of New Jersey’s decision include the protection of working farms, which make a major contribution to our economy and access to fresh food, and the protection and hopefully more availability of clean drinking water sources.

One of the most interesting aspects of this campaign is that both Corzine and Christie supported this campaign, despite opposing views they may have when it comes to the protection of New Jersey’s environment. The Keep It Green website states that “The Yes vote was bipartisan, winning in eight counties carried by Republican Chris Christie and seven counties carried by Democrat Jon S. Corzine,” As a country going through serious ecological and environmental decline, we need to see more combined efforts in the preservation of our limited resources, natural landscapes, and the range of biodiversity that we have left.

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