New Jersey Conservation Foundation


New Jersey Land Conservation Organization
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Jump directly to a topic... Climate Change - Farm Bill - Forestry Bill
The Highlands - Regional Planning - Support Continued Preservation Funding

Superstorm Sandy Response - Conservation Easement Revitalization



Working to Protect the Palisades cliffs!

Urge LG Electronics to redesign their proposed high-rise corporate headquarters in Englewood Cliffs!

New Jersey Conservation Foundation has joined Protect the Palisades, a coalition of individuals and organizations from New Jersey, New York and around the nation dedicated to preserving the Hudson River Palisades from a high rise that would destroy the integrity of this beautiful natural feature.

As currently designed, LG’s proposed office building would rise approximately four times higher than the existing 35-foot limit that has been maintained in this area for decades. This building would not only interrupt the vista, but would also set a precedent for greater building heights stretching northward along the cliffs. 

There is an alternative – a low-rise design that fully accommodates the company’s needs for new office space while ensuring the integrity of the Palisades ridgeline and park.

One of the great landscapes of New Jersey and a scenic gateway to our state, the Palisades are now on the 2014 watch list of the World Monuments Fund, an organization devoted to saving important architectural and cultural heritage sites around the world. The park is also included in the National Natural Landmarks Program administered by the National Parks Service and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Please help us stop the building!  For more information, visit the Protect the Palisades Coalition website.

Consultant's simulation of how the Palisades cliffs would be impacted by LG building

Read more about it in Michele Byers' column, The State We're In >>

See press release, and letter to LG's CEO written by four former New Jersey Governors >>


Sustainable State Funding for Preservation and Stewardship


New Jersey Conservation Foundation, in partnership with the NJ Keep It Green campaign, continues to advocate for sustainable funding for preservation and stewardship.  We have made great progress but still need your help.



The New Jersey Senate recently approved legislation to sustainably fund open space, farmland and historic preservation (SCR160).  Now it is the Assembly’s turn to act!

Please call or email Assembly leadership and your own representatives and urge them to bring SCR160 to a vote as soon as possible!

SCR160 would dedicate $200 million annually in existing sales tax revenue for the next thirty years to fund the State’s highly successful preservation programs.  Since 1998 New Jersey has dedicated an average of $200 million per year to these programs, but funding has dwindled and preservation will soon grind to a halt if the Assembly does not take action.  

To find your Assembly representatives, click here >>

Please click here to add your name to the list of supporters for ongoing preservation funding in New Jersey.

Background:  The Garden State Preservation Trust finances the preservation of open space, farmland and historic sites in New Jersey. Today, one third of New Jersey’s dry land mass is permanently preserved as open space – a total acreage that exceeds the size of Grand Canyon National Park! In late 2012, the Garden State Preservation Trust approved the last funds available under the 2009 bond for Green Acres acquisition and development, farmland preservation and Blue Acres projects throughout the state.  All of the funds have been appropriated by the legislature.

Without action to replenish the fund,  critical preservation efforts will come to a halt at a time when there is still much work to be done.

New Jersey has been a national leader in preserving open space, historic sites and farmland since 1961 when the Green Acres Program was established. The Green Acres, Farmland and Historic Preservation Programs have touched every county in New Jersey enabling critical preservation and park development projects with significant human health, economic and environmental benefits. These funds are used by the state, counties, municipalities and non-profits to preserve lands throughout the state for the benefit of all New Jersey residents.  

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a member of NJ Keep It Green, a group of local and regional organizations at the forefront of efforts to secure a funding source for the Garden State Preservation Trust, as well as for stewardship of preserved lands, including state parks, forests and Wildlife Management Areas.

Learn more about the effort to secure a permanent funding source for the GSPT>>

See "A Legacy of Green: Celebrating 50 years of the Green Acres Program" >>



Addressing Climate Change and Energy Policy

The rapidly growing focus on energy and climate change at the state and national levels creates both challenges and opportunities for land conservation. We are encountering threats to preserved land posed by global warming, as well as proposals to divert preserved land for alternative energy development.

At the same time, we are defending land from threats posed by transmission lines and pipelines, and trying to protect our water resources from natural gas drilling. On the positive side, our work on forest protection and restoration presents an opportunity to promote carbon sequestration.

In recognition of the enormous role energy conservation can play in decreasing energy use, we advocate for a much greater focus on conservation and efficiency in the state's energy master plan.

Read about how "Saving Energy Saves Land" >>

"Energy Efficiency and Economic Opportunity" >>
-American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Superstorm Sandy Response

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey Conservation Foundation has been working together with other environmental organizations to advocate for restoration and rebuilding strategies that will leave New Jersey communities more resilient to future storms and sea level rise.

Read more about the concerted efforts of several environmental agencies...

Community Letter_Congressional Funding >>    

Community Principles >>

Community Press Release_Sandy Recovery >>

Sandy-related topics featured in Michele Byers' column,
"The State We're In"

Blowin' in the Wind
Slow Moving Waves of Sand (Barrier Islands)
Storms Could Benefit Forest Biodiversity   


Protecting the Land that Grows Our Food

Judge upholds protections for prime soil

In a significant legal victory for the State’s Farmland Preservation Program, a Superior Court Judge has determined that David den Hollander, a commercial plant grower, must restore several inches of subsoil and topsoil that he had destroyed on his preserved farm in Hunterdon County. He is also required to re-grade the land to facilitate drainage and prevent erosion.

Mr. den Hollander owns Quaker Valley Farms, a large greenhouse operation in Franklin Township, Hunterdon County, which is located on both preserved and un-preserved prime farmland. Since 1998, the operation has been involved in several legal challenges focused on destructive farming practices, including soil destruction and storm water pollution.

In 2007, Quaker Valley Farms began excavating and compacting approximately 25 acres of prime Quakertown soil on the preserved portion of the property in order to build additional greenhouses. In 2008, with support and urging from members of the public, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and NJCF, the state issued an injunction to stop the activity, calling it a violation of the State Farmland Preservation easement. The Program’s easement prohibits activities “detrimental to drainage, flood control, water conservation, erosion control… soil conservation…”

The NJ Division of Law sued on behalf of the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) after determining, via an assessment by a team of experts, that the qualities of the land that made it ideal for farming had been destroyed, and that remediation would be required to restore the land. Unfortunately, restoring prime soil to its original state after excavation and compaction is very difficult.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation applauds the most recent ruling, which underscores the importance of protecting soil resources on preserved farmland – land that was protected in perpetuity at significant public expense. Public support for farmland preservation comes with an expectation that soils and other natural resources are being protected.

Visit read the press release from the NJ Office of the Attorney General.

Protecting agricultural soils is fundamental to protecting farmland. Learn more about our efforts >>


Farm Bill Passes – Why it Matters to New Jersey

 Picking crops at New Jersey farm

Congress passed the long delayed Farm Bill in early February 2014. The good news for conservation includes $1.3 billion over 10 years for land preservation programs. The Conservation Foundation advocated for this funding, which greatly benefits our farmland preservation work. 

Without the federal Farm Bill, natural resource conservation programs - particularly the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) - New Jersey would not have been able to preserve over 170 farms across 15 counties in our state. New Jersey Conservation Foundation alone has received nearly $30 million to protect Garden State farmland!


The Conservation Foundation plays a special role in Farm Bill policy, working to ensure that federal funds protect soils by limiting the amount of farm structures that can be built on the land. This helps protect important agricultural soils from large scale greenhouse operations and commercial development such as cell towers (which are only permitted on land preserved with state and local funds). New Jersey has some unique and valuable agricultural soils, and they need to be protected!


NJ Conservation Foundation's farmland preservation works!

Through our farmland preservation work, New Jersey Conservation Foundation is working toward a day when an abundance of locally grown New Jersey food, produced in a healthy, environmentally sustainable manner, will be available to feed the region.

As part of that vision, large concentrations of preserved farmland will not only support the local food system, but will also protect the state’s water supply and wildlife habitat, combat global warming by sequestering carbon, and connect with other preserved lands – parks, trails, and natural areas – as part of an interconnected system of public and private open space, with all of the benefits associated with preserved, open land.

To fulfill this vision, we lobby Congress for New Jersey's fair share of federal farmland conservation funding. NJCF is New Jersey's leading non-profit recipient of USDA Farm and Ranchland Protection Program funds. We have been recognized by the State Agriculture Development Committee as New Jersey's leading non-profit organization for both acres of farmland and total farms preserved.

We promote natural resource protections – especially soil protections - for farmland preserved with public money, so that the agricultural soils of today will be available to grow food tomorrow. And while we support clean renewable energy sources, we are working to ensure that these sources don't come at the cost of our most productive farmland.

We are working to strengthen farmland preservation and agricultural viability in our Delaware Bay Watershed project area. This region is rich in natural resources, and is truly the bread basket of New Jersey agriculture. We are developing pilot projects, including marketing initiatives, to assist sustainable farm operations in the region and connect local food with urban centers.

Agriculture comprises one of the most important sectors of New Jersey's economy, while also providing a host of public and community benefits that cannot be fully measured. NJCF is committed to keeping the garden in "The Garden State."


Read more about soil protection efforts in Michele Byers' column, "The State We're In" >>


Advocating Sound Stewardship of Public and Private Lands

New Jersey Conservation Foundation advocates for state policies that give high priority to protection and restoration of biodiversity on public and private lands, urges the use of modern ecological principles in developing management plans for New Jersey’s public lands, and defends preserved land from improper diversion to other uses.

Future of Bull's Island Forest Still Uncertain

In 2012, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection began making plans to clear-cut 6 acres of old-growth character forest at Bull's Island State Park in the Delaware River near Stockton. This magnificent floodplain forest is dominated by massive 200-year-old American sycamore trees, whose canopies provide breedinghabitat for rare, migratory songbirds.

The state has already closed and will remove a public campground on Bull's Island because of the hazard of falling trees in this tumultuous flood zone. That's a smart move. But the state should not take the unnecessary and unwise step of cutting this mature floodplain forest. Not only will this threaten rare songbirds, but an expensive, proposed restoration effort will be futile because of floods and shifting sand and gravel.


Read the letter to the DEP from Dr. Emile DeVito, Manager of Science for New Jersey Conservation Foundation. >>


Any significant tree cutting in the Park requires a permit from the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission, and the DEP has not yet submitted a permit application. We thank all of you who have contacted the DEP and the Canal Commission to urge them to spare the forest at Bull's Island. If you have not already done so, please speak up for the protection of the giant trees and rare birds on the Island by taking the following actions:

-Write to the D&R Canal Commissioners and ask them to protect the Bull's Island forest. Send your letter via e-mail to: Ms. Marlen Dooley, Executive Director, D&R Canal Commission.

-Call NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin at 609-292-2885, and ask him to add the northern part of the Island to the Bulls Island Natural Area, which currently comprises the southern end of the Park.



Conservation Easement Revitalization Project

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Easements are a widely used tool for preserving land.  Yet because the land itself generally remains in separate, private ownership, ensuring that easements continue to fulfill their original promise as time passes and land changes hands is often a challenge.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation recently took part in a national project called the Easement Revitalization Research Project. The project was sponsored and funded by the Open Space Institute in New York and funded by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Kohlberg Foundation and Resources Legacy Fund.


New Jersey Conservation Foundation was one of six case study partners nationally working with consultant Marc Smiley from Solid Ground to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the extent to which land trusts are encountering situations where conservation protections on private lands are not being honored, and to focus on how land trusts can remedy or otherwise manage these troubled easements.

A subsequent report evaluated the case study easements and gave options for addressing the challenges that have arisen. NJCF staff provided feedback on the report, which has been finalized in the form of a general guidebook, “Easement Revitalization Guidebook,” for land trusts across the country.  

Download a copy of the guidebook >>

On a state level New Jersey Conservation Foundation, as the state’s leading private holder of conservation easements, has launched an initiative to ensure the long-term viability and integrity of conservation easements throughout the Garden State. Working with conservation partners from all sectors, we are developing strategies to ensure that easements remain an effective preservation tool and that preserved land is truly protected in perpetuity.


Advancing and Defending Environmentally Sound Regional Plans

New Jersey has a strong history of adopting comprehensive regional plans. Regional planning that incorporates environmental protection is critical to protecting the land and water supplies on which we depend. Other important benefits of such planning includes stabilizing local property taxes, retaining the character of rural areas and established communities, and generally promoting growth in places where it is less environmentally damaging and more cost-effective to build, because of the presence of existing infrastructure like roads, sewers and public water systems.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation has been integrally involved in the passage of many landmark New Jersey regional planning laws, including the Pinelands Protection Act, the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park law, and the State Planning Act. Constant vigilance is required to ensure these laws and their regional plans aren't weakened over time.


Help Protect the Highlands

Pyramid Mountain, Morris CountyThe Highlands are part of the great sweep of the Appalachian Mountains that shadows the East Coast from Maine to Georgia. The Highlands Region extends from southeastern Pennsylvania through northwest New Jersey into New York and Connecticut. With forested ridges, pastoral farmland, and pure streams, lakes and reservoirs, the Highlands form a greenbelt surrounding the most populous metropolitan area in the US. The Highlands provide an essential source of drinking water, clean air, critical wildlife habitat, historic resources, recreational opportunities and scenic beauty for both its residents and the millions of people who live within an hour’s travel.


About the New Jersey Highlands Act

New Jersey’s 2004 Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act passed by overwhelming majorities in the State legislature after two decades of focused citizen and governmental efforts to protect the New Jersey Highlands Region. The 860,000 acre Highlands, with only 17 percent of the land in the State, provides drinking water to 5.4 million – nearly two-thirds – of the State’s residents, who live in fifteen counties in northern central and southern New Jersey. If you are either a Highlands water-drinker or a Highlands resident, there is good reason for you to become involved in the region’s protection.

If you are either a Highlands water-drinker or a Highlands resident, there is good reason for you to become involved in the region’s protection.The New Jersey Highlands Coalition has an outreach program directed to Highlands water-receiving areas outside the region. To find out more visit the Highlands Coalition website.

The Highlands Act affects 88 municipalities in parts of seven counties:  Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Somerset, Hunterdon, Sussex and Warren. The Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council (Highlands Council) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are both charged with implementing the Act. The DEP has rule-making authority over the Preservation Area, about half the region, much of which is preserved state and county lands. The Highlands Council completed the required Regional Master Plan (RMP) for the 88 municipalities in 2008. 

Highlands Plan Conformance

Conformance with the Plan is mandatory for the Preservation Area, but voluntary for the Planning Area.  Since the Plan is based on scientific assessments of available water supply and septic capability in each watershed, its build out scenario, along with required environmental ordinances, offers a blueprint for sustainable, capacity-based development for all Highlands municipalities in both the Preservation and Planning Areas. Implementation is achieved through municipal conformance with the Plan, which benefits substantially from the involvement and support of local residents. 

Conformance Update

As of December 2012, 43 municipalities and two counties (Passaic and Somerset) have had their Plan Conformance Petitions approved by the Highlands Council. Of the 88 Highlands municipalities, 60 have submitted Plan Conformance Petitions. You can check the status of specific municipalities on the Highlands Council website -

You can help move Plan Conformance along! The New Jersey Highlands Coalition, of which NJCF is a founding member, has a Highlands Advocate Program that you can join to take action. Please visit the New Jersey Highlands Coalition website to find out more. 

Let's Not Let Politics Trump Water

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is working to defend the Highlands from efforts by the Christie Administration to weaken the Highlands’ protections.

Damaging steps already taken include the appointment of anti-conservation individuals to the Highlands Council. At the Council, the progress of plan conformance by municipalities has slowed dramatically. 

We and other environmentalists are concerned about potential weakening of the Regional Master Plan during an upcoming review process. Also, it is feared that strongly protective DEP Highlands rules may be revised. Without gubernatorial leadership committed to Highlands protection, New Jersey faces the serious risk of damage to the watersheds that represent the State’s primary source of drinking water.

The Highlands Council meets monthly at 5 p.m. on Thursdays at the Council headquarters at 100 North Road (Route 513) north of Chester Borough in Morris County. New Jersey Conservation Foundation regularly monitors and comments at these meetings.

We also periodically post action alerts on Highlands issues, so please sign up for our email alerts and stay tuned!

Read statement by former Governors about the importance of protecting Highlands, Pinelands >>






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