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Garden State Greenways vision comes to life

FAR HILLS (March 1, 2006) - “Garden State Greenways” – a vision of a New Jersey where all residents can walk out their front door and access an interconnected system of parks, trails and protected farmland and natural areas – is coming to life.

NJCF launched the online planning tool www.gardenstategreenways.org – in 2004 in collaboration with the state Green Acres program and Rutgers University to help facilitate a strategic, statewide approach to open space planning. In the last year, NJCF has met with dozens of municipalities and planning organizations to encourage the use of this new tool.

“When the New Providence Open Space Advisory Board (OSAB) was established by the Borough Council, we knew little about the preservation and management of open space,” said Paul Jeffrey, New Providence OSAB Chairman. “We contacted the New Jersey Conservation Foundation to help us and within several meetings and discussions, we understood the criticality of having an Open Space and Recreation Plan as well as the recommended steps to develop that plan and have it adopted. Our final draft is now is in preparation and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation is again providing invaluable feedback.”

Garden State Greenways can be utilized by all those involved in conserving open space and farmland – from local to statewide levels. Garden State Greenways identifies “hubs,” large areas of important natural resource lands, and linear connectors between these hubs.

“The result of the New Providence planning process was an open space plan that recognizes the need to connect land parcels that have superior value,” said NJCF Executive Director Michele Byers. “Garden State Greenways shows both the value of connecting preserved lands and the importance of regional open space planning. It shows how communities that partner well can achieve more by looking beyond political boundaries.”

One recent example of Garden State Greenways at work is taking shape in the area surrounding Duke Farms in Hillsborough. A new partnership to implement the state’s Wildlife Action Plan was launched following a Garden State Greenways presentation to Duke Farms representatives. The partnership includes the New Jersey Audubon Society, Somerset County, Hillsborough, D&R Greenway, NJCF and many other organizations.

“Garden State Greenway was the perfect starting point to identify appropriate tracts of land for habitat restoration,” said Michael Catania, President of Conservation Resources, Inc., which facilitated the partnership. “Currently using Garden State Greenways as its foundation, the partnership intends to launch a series of land acquisition and restoration initiatives throughout the Raritan-Piedmont region.”

 

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