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Former Assemblywoman urges stable funding for land preservation


Former New Jersey Assemblywoman Maureen Ogden describes the loss of the state’s natural lands as “a quiet crisis, because animals and plants cannot cry out.” The longtime champion of land conservation and environmental protection tells us, “it is we who must speak and act for them and others without voices – e.g. future generations.”


Ogden, who is co-chair of the New Jersey Keep It Green campaign and a member of New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s board of trustees, emphasized the environmental benefits provided by natural lands in an interview with the EarthSky broadcast network.


“Do you know the water we drink is cleansed by the earth beneath us, and the air we breathe is purified by the green plants surrounding us?” she asked. “Our very existence depends on the harmony of the natural cycle. So, in seeking to preserve New Jersey’s natural heritage, we need to feel a real sense of urgency, as though our lives depend on it – because they do.”


The eight-minute interview with Ogden was released today for broadcast by EarthSky subscribers and is available as a podcast on the network’s website at It will also be posted on www.njconservation.organd


“We owe a debt of gratitude to Maureen Ogden for her leadership as a New Jersey legislator, and her continued efforts on behalf of conservation in New Jersey,” said Michele S. Byers, Executive Director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “This podcast is a wonderful opportunity to hear her thoughts on land preservation today.”


As New Jersey celebrates the 50thanniversary of its Green Acres program, Ogden noted that Garden State voters have always been supportive of open space preservation, starting with the first Green Acres referendum approved in November 1961. New Jersey Keep It Green recently released a report detailing the accomplishments of Green Acres over the past 50 years, including over 650,000 acres preserved through over 6,200 land conservation and more than 1,100 park development projects in every county of the state.


Although New Jersey voters have consistently approved Green Acres referenda, Ogden believes a stable, predictable source of open space funding is needed so the state can continue preserving open space. The problem right now, she said, is that those preserving land aren’t able to plan ahead without knowing that a certain sum of money will be available.


Kelly Mooij, the New Jersey Keep It Green Coordinator, agreed. “Maureen’s assessment is spot on. Keep It Green’s recent Green Acres 50thanniversary report (available at provides testament to the tremendous open space accomplishments throughout the State but it also makes clear that much important work remains. A long-term and sustainable funding source is essential to ensure clean drinking water, wildlife habitat, and accessible recreation for all New Jerseyans now and in the future.”


Despite the economic downturn, Ogden staunchly believes that residents of the nation’s most densely populated state remain enthusiastic about and committed to land preservation. “We are in difficult economic times but I don’t believe - and I don’t believe voters do either - that it’s time to retreat,” she said.


A resident and former mayor of Millburn, Ogden served in the New Jersey Assembly from 1981 to 1995 and also as chair of Gov. Christine Todd Whitman’s Council on NJ Outdoors that led to the creation of the Garden State Preservation Trust in 1998. She has served on the New Jersey Conservation Foundation board of trustees since 2006.


EarthSky is a worldwide broadcast network that uses science to achieve its goal of “illuminating pathways to a sustainable future.” Funding for the Ogden podcast was provided by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. To listen to the interview or view a transcript, go to


New Jersey Keep It Green is a coalition working to secure funding for open space, farmland and historic preservation in New Jersey.


New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit whose mission is to preserve land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, the Foundation has protected more than 120,000 acres, or 187 square miles. For more information on programs and preserves, visit www.njconservation.orgor call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).

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