Rep. Mikie Sherrill Thanked by Environment New Jersey for pushing for full funding of NJ open space via Land & Water Conservation Fund
Morristown -- With the start of Thanksgiving week, Environment New Jersey thanked Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-11) this afternoon at the Loantaka Brook Reservation for her support of New Jersey’s parks and open spaces, and then led a hike in the reservation with local officials, members and activists. Rep. Sherrill voted this spring to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and now is cosponsoring legislation to fully fund the program.
The 54-year-old program has funded projects ranging from Sandy Hook State Park and Liberty State Park to local neighborhood landmarks like the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, and including the Loantaka Brook Reservation. Despite its long-standing success, the fund has consistently been shortchanged as Congress has diverted $22 billion dollars from the program to non-conservation related projects over the years.
“Protecting and maintaining our country's outdoor places doesn’t happen by accident — it requires sustained stewardship, funding, and leadership,” said Doug O’Malley, Director with Environment New Jersey. “We're pleased to be here today highlighting Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s leadership.”
Representative Sherrill is now co-sponsoring the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act ( H.R. 3195), which is currently being considered in Congress and would safeguard the money for these vital projects.
“New Jerseyans know protecting our open spaces and natural resources is a must because we live in the most densely populated state in the country. I'm co-sponsoring the bill to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund so we can preserve wildlife habitats and ensure Americans have access to quality outdoor recreation, including sites in our community like the Loantaka Brook Reservation and the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. I am pushing House leadership to secure full funding for the LWCF in spending negotiations with the Senate so we can preserve New Jersey’s open spaces for generations to come,” said Representative Sherrill.
At the event, Rep. Sherrill explained why the LWCF is so important for not only New Jerseyans but also people nationwide.
“In the 1970s, the Park Commission was the recipient of a number of LWCF matching grants that provided for improved access to the county parks, from parking areas to picnic shelters and restrooms to recreation fields. This was at a time when County Capital dollars were being used to fund acquisition of parkland which left little financial resources for park improvements,” said Dave Helmer, Director of the Morris County Park Commission.
LWCF funding has been critical for the Highlands: “The Highlands Act was passed in 2004 primarily to protect New Jersey's water resources. There wasn't a single mention of climate change or global warming. Today, as we begin to understand how our larger, intact forests here in the Highlands also provide NJ with a tremendous resource in mitigating climate impacts, we have to ask, are our Highlands forests adequately protected? Since 2008, Land and Water Conservation Act funding has permanently protected over 1,500 acres of Highlands forests. This funding is critical for our viability as a society. The New Jersey Highlands Coalition thanks Congresswoman Sherrill for her support for the Highlands and we look forward to her continued support,” said Elliott Ruga, Policy Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition.
“We’re hopeful that Congress can get the job done this year because there’s no lack of support,” said O’Malley. “Earlier this year, the House voted 363 to 62 to permanently reauthorize the LWCF program, and now more than half of the House has cosponsored the bill to fully fund this important program. Let’s get it done.”
Environment New Jersey is a statewide policy and action group. Our staff and members work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, please visit www.environmentnewjersey.org.