Yet another argument why this must be accomplished —
Drive north from New York into the Catskills and you find yourself in the sources of the Delaware River, where thousands of acres of open land protect the water supply of New York City. People in much of New Jersey have no such protected reserves.
For decades, we have paved and built and settled in our watershed and on top of our ground water. Protection has been piecemeal, and the future ability of the State not only to grow but also to provide for the needs of our existing population and businesses is being challenged. We cannot afford to see our already scarce open lands paved over and lost. We must expand our efforts now. That means all of us, whether we have never seen a farm or walked through a forest – because we are all dependent on the same water resources.
We do have programs to do this. We have Green Acres that can purchase land and keep it open. We also have our Farmland Preservation program that provides the added benefits of preserving a historic and still vital billion-dollar industry, while protecting our water supply. Both of these programs preserve land piece by piece, in a race with developers to buy up the remaining open lands. And both of these programs are running out of money.
It is time for all of us to speak out to our legislators and let them know we need a permanent source of funding for farmland and open space protection, and when it is put on the ballot it is up to us all to vote a resounding “Yes” for one resource none of us can live without.
Freeholder Lillian G. Burry
Farmland and Open Space Preservation Liaison