Photography Done and Written By Heather Warburton-NJRR Regular Contributor
Ranking number one at over 1,200 people per square mile, no one would argue that New Jersey isn’t crowded. What many people don’t know is New Jersey is going to be the first state in the country to be completely built out. Every piece of land that is going to be developed will be developed and every piece that will be protected will be protected. Some estimates say we could be completely out of space by 2050. What the final product that New Jersey looks like in 2050 will be shaped by the decisions we make right now. Time is running out for us to prevent The Garden State from becoming The Urban Sprawl State.
Our Open Spaces in NJ provide a myriad of benefits such as a habitat for endangered species, passive recreation, flooding and erosion control, and perhaps most importantly air and water filtration. If those 1,200 people per mile intend to continue having clean and safe drinking water, then we need open spaces to recharge and refill our aquifers. We have some the most pristine clean fresh water in the country right here in our Pinelands Region of NJ, but those aquifers are already suffering from over draw and over development.
It is more important than ever before that we protect and preserve our open space in NJ. Recent budget cuts and reprioritization of funds couldn’t be happening at a worse time. In Atlantic County the open space acquisition budget has been slashed to a fraction of what it was just a few years ago, and parts of that meager budget are being allocated to development projects like installing lights or maintaining already existing spaces. New space preservation has slowed to at best a crawl. Atlantic County is far from the only county where open space is losing the battle.
A good way of determining water quality impact is to measure impervious ground cover. The lower the percentage of impervious ground cover, generally, the better the health of the water system in the area. Parts of Ocean County are over 40%. One only needs to look at Barnegat Bay to see the impact our over development is having on our wetlands and waterways.
We need to all demand our representatives, freeholders, and county executives prioritize open space preservation. The clock is ticking and it’s close to midnight. Once these spaces are gone they are gone forever. There is no turning the clock back. It’s now or never. Please don’t let it be never. We need strong activism in NJ to help save what we have left.
Take action. If you know of open space in New Jersey that needs to be protected click here to contact New Jersey Revolution Radio and connect with people who can help you fight for open space.