Buying Land to Protect Water, Open Spaces in Sussex County

NJTV News | March 9, 2017 | Energy & Environment
A land-purchase program in northernmost New Jersey is seen as a low-tech — but effective — means of helping the environment

Preserving land is a more cost-effective way to treat water than industrial methods, according to advocates of a land acquisition program in Sussex County whose ultimate purpose is to protect drinking water — and wildlife.

The Open Spaces Initiative draws on private donations to acquire land. “It’s really critical that we protect the most important lands for water quality and what we need is forests,” said Abby Weinberg, research director of the Open Space Institute. “We are making great progress and the William Penn Foundation has given the Open Space Institute $9 million to help make sure that happens,” Weinberg said.

“The challenge is with the appraised value of the land, making sure the land owner gets equity for their property,” according to Barbara Heskins Davis, vice president of programs for the Land Conservancy of New Jersey.

Sussex County also has an Open Space Trust Fund that allows it to buy and maintain land for preservation and recreation. Cliff Lundin, who chairs the county’s Open Space Committee said, “In the last Sussex County referendum we received over 70 percent support in favor of continuing the open space program.”

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