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Creating the Garden State Greenways Vision


Creating the Garden State Greenways vision involved help from many partners, successful collaboration within and outside of the land conservation community, community input and expert advice on statewide greenway planning and GIS assessments.

Creating the vision involved:

Project Advisory Committee – Statewide leaders in the land conservation community were convened to advise on product development.

Strategic Partnerships – A supportive partnership was formed early on with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres program. Partnerships with state agencies, county governments, municipal governments and non-governmental entities continue to be developed.

Planning Advice – Advice was obtained from greenway planning consultants and other statewide greenway initiatives were reviewed. Project staff participated in the Greenways Working Group at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepardstown, West Virginia.

Pilot GIS Analysis – A pilot study of the Upper Passaic River watershed was performed. This study tested using GIS as the tool to create a greenway framework could inform a broad array user groups and be useful at many scales.

Statewide GIS Inventory - Numerous state agencies, county and local governments, and nonprofit organizations contributed to an inventory of preserved open space and natural and cultural resources through the creation and sharing of GIS and tabular data.

Community Input - A series of regional “mapping charettes“ were held, creating a broad base of participation and input. Over 120 representatives of county and municipal governments, state agencies, planning groupnonprofit conservation groups and individuals attended these workshops. Participants reviewed large-scale maps and drew their recommendations for open space and greenway linkages on them. These were then entered into GIS. The mapped recommendations were further validated in the next step, the GIS assessment. The workshops provided valuable insight into the implementation of Garden State Greenways statewide.

GIS Assessment - Drawing from the pilot study, a statewide natural resource assessment was developed which synthesized the wealth of statewide data on natural resources, open space and land use to identify open space and potential linkages, and to prioritize them according to natural resource values, such as groundwater recharge, surface water quality impact, rare species habitat, and prime agricultural soils.

The following GIS data on natural and cultural resources were used in the assessment:
  • 2001-2002 Land Use/ Land Cover – CRSSA
  • Abandoned Rail Corridors – NJCF
  • Elevation, Slope and Ridgelines – NJDEP: NJ Geological Survey, NJCF
  • Ground Water Recharge – NJDEP: NJ Geological Survey
  • Landscape Project (rare, threatened and endangered animal habitat) – NJDEP: Endangered and Nongame Species Program
  • National Register Historic Sites – USDI National Park Service, NJCF
  • Natural Heritage Database (known occurrences of rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals) – NJDEP: Natural Lands Management
  • Natural Heritage Priority Sites (critical plant and animal habitat) – NJDEP: Natural Lands Management
  • Prime Agricultural and Statewide Significant Soils – USDI Natural Resource Conservation Service, NJDEP
  • Roads, Highways and Major Bridges – NJDOT, NJCF
  • State Development and Redevelopment Planning Areas and Centers – NJDCA: Office of Smart Growth

GIS Technical Review - The GIS assessment methodology is modeled on statewide and regional analyses conducted elsewhere in the United States and was subject to extensive input from a Technical Advisory Committee.

Participants on the technical advisory committee included:

  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection: Endangered and Nongame Species Program, GIS Unit, Green Acres Program, Natural Lands Management, New Jersey Geological Survey, Watershed Management
  • New Jersey Department of Transportation
  • New Jersey Water Supply Authority
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Regional Plan Association
  • Rowan University Department of Geography
  • Rutgers University: Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis
  • The GIS Center at Stony Brook
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Upper Raritan Watershed Association

Develop User Friendly Interface - An interface was developed to help users query the GIS data.

Product Delivery – An agreement was obtained with CRSSA at Rutgers University to host an internet map application, provide GIS data download capability and serve printable maps.

Updates – Strategic partnerships have been formed with technical experts in GIS assessment. An update to the Garden State Greenways vision is planned as new statewide data sets become available.

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