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SANDY PERRY, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
PHONE: 908-234-1225, EXT. 104
SANDY@NJCONSERVATION.ORG

NJ Conservation chosen for $700K federal grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 01/16/15

New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Greg Romano of NJ Conservation Foundation at grant announcement
New Jersey Conservation Foundation, a leading statewide land preservation and policy organization, has been chosen to receive $700,000 in federal grants to preserve farms and protect water and soil quality in the Delaware Bay Watershed in Salem, Cumberland and Gloucester counties.

The grants are part of an innovative national conservation program announced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Wednesday, Jan. 14. Land conservation organizations throughout the country were selected to receive similar grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

The grant to New Jersey Conservation - the only one awarded in New Jersey - will be used to preserve farms within a 752-square-mile agricultural region of the Delaware Bay Watershed and help participating landowners implement practices to protect soil and water quality.

"This is excellent news for water quality in the Delaware Bayshore," said Greg Romano, assistant director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation and head of its land preservation department.

"The Delaware Bay Watershed is the state's largest agricultural production region, and it has abundant water supplies and richly diverse natural resources," added Romano. "We will use these grant funds to permanently preserve farms while improving water quality and supporting wildlife habitat."

New Jersey Conservation has a proven record of success in using grant funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service to preserve farmland.

In 2006, New Jersey Conservation became the state's first non-profit organization to receive a grant under the USDA's Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. Since then, the foundation has preserved 39 farms totaling over 6,500 acres across New Jersey, utilizing $6.5 million in federal funding. The Foundation is currently working to preserve another 25 farms totaling about 1,800 acres with another $6.5 million in federal funds.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program encourages partners to join in efforts with agricultural producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales. Through the program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and its partners help producers implement and maintain conservation activities in selected project areas.

The New Jersey Conservation Foundation grant will be used for farmland projects in all of Salem County and parts of Cumberland and Gloucester counties. Cumberland County municipalities within the project area are Deerfield, Upper Deerfield, Stow Creek, Greenwich, Shiloh, Hopewell, Fairfield, Lawrence, Downe and Bridgeton; and Gloucester County municipalities are Logan, Woolwich, Greenwich, East Greenwich, Harrison, South Harrison, Mantua, Elk and Swedesboro.

The Delaware Bay Watershed initiative will take place on both sides of the Delaware River and Bay. The American Farmland Trust received Regional Conservation Partnership Program funding to improve water quality and quantity in the Delaware River basin in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the Stroud Water Research Center in Pennsylvania was chosen for a grant to improve water quality in that state's Berks and Chester counties.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, New Jersey Conservation has protected 125,000 acres of open space - from the Highlands to the Pine Barrens to the Delaware Bayshore, from farms to forests to urban and suburban parks. For more information about the Foundation's programs and preserves, go to www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).

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