Preserving Open Space in Monmouth County by the Monmouth County Park System
Thanks to strong support from residents, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Board of Recreation Commissioners, the Monmouth County Park System now owns and/or manages 17,547 acres in 43 parks and golf courses across the county.
The goal of the Monmouth County Open Space Plan is to guide decision makers in their efforts to permanently preserve public land of County significance. The plan also charts a course to further develop an integrated system of open space that is sufficiently diverse and comprehensive to protect significant landscapes that have helped define the quality of life in Monmouth County. A robust inventory of preserved open space allows the Park System to offer a wide range of resource-based recreation opportunities for current and future generations.
The Open Space Plan’s acquisition target is to guide the preservation of a minimum of 21,000 acres. Merely achieving this minimum goal may not fully capture every opportunity to preserve and protect the community character, resource heritage, and quality of life valued by residents. Therefore the Park System may continue to acquire and protect natural, scenic and historic resources beyond the specific goals set forth in the plan.
Monmouth County Open Space Plan
The benefits of parks and open spaces go beyond the enjoyment they bring to users. They also have public health, economic, environmental and social benefits.
- Monmouth County has natural, scenic, cultural and historic resources that are of exceptional value to Monmouth County and beyond. Outdoor recreation and tourism generates jobs and economic development. Studies indicate higher levels of local gross domestic product and economic well‐being where parks and recreation opportunities are plentiful.
- Scenic resources such as overlooks, pristine forests, and rural roads contribute to our sense of place and time, creating a strong sense of local identity. Residents enjoy the closest attachment and engagement within their communities where parks and recreation opportunities are readily available and the landscapes around them remain unique.
- Access to open space has positive public health outcomes. Parks and recreation can reduce the impacts of chronic diseases, especially in such vulnerable populations as children, seniors and the underserved. Contact with nature has shown a range of medical benefits including lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, enhanced survival after a heart attack, more rapid recovery from surgery, fewer minor medical complaints, and lower self-reported stress.
- Communities are safer as a result of a wholesome atmosphere created by well‐managed parks and recreation services in communities through healthy activities and arts and recreation activities for all people. Parks and recreation services provide a space and a reason to partake in enjoying quality time, relaxation, and fun among family members and friends, thus strengthening the social and familial bonds that provide balance and satisfaction in life.
- Protection of water quality and supply becomes increasingly important as the demand for potable water and water for recreation grows with the population. Protection of aquifer recharge areas, watersheds and mature forests through preservation are an economical way to filter pollutants from the drinking supply.
- Disturbance of sensitive areas, such as our coastal and freshwater wetlands, aquifer recharge areas, erodible soils, and steep slopes, is a threat to our water quality and contributes to flooding, erosion and siltation. Protected open space contributes to flood mitigation resulting from climate change.
- Preservation of habitat for plants and animals and natural corridors for migration is critical to the ecological diversity of the County, the enrichment of human life, and the understanding of our natural environment.
Preserving Open Space in Monmouth County by Municipalities
The Monmouth County Municipal Open Space Grant program is the primary method by which the County assists municipalities in meeting the recreation needs of their residents. The grant program was authorized by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 2003 with an allocation of $2 million a year from the County Open Space Trust Fund for cooperative projects within Monmouth County municipalities. This funding assists municipalities with their local open space acquisition for recreation and conservation purposes, as well as projects for the development or redevelopment of recreation, historic preservation, or conservation resources. In recognition of the role municipal government plays in open space preservation and development of recreation facilities, this funding assists local governments in addressing local deficits and the recreation needs of their community. This allows the Monmouth County Park System to focus its resources on regional land acquisition and development of regional facilities, while assisting municipal governments in their role as local providers.
Since the inception of the program in 2013, 47 of Monmouth County’s 53 municipalities have been awarded more than $34 million for local parks and acquisition projects. As of 2020, 233 grants have been awarded with 173 of the those grants going toward parks development projects and 60 of the grant awards going toward open space acquisition projects. Another $2 million has been allocated for the 2020 round of grant funding to be awarded in December of 2020, bringing the total allocated through the program to $36 million.
Municipal Open Space Grant Program
The Monmouth County Park System has a vision for the future, a vision that includes the continued preservation of land that is regionally significant, as well as the creation of a county-wide open space system. You can help make this vision a reality. If you or someone you know owns land, there may be an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing effort to preserve open space in Monmouth County. Let us tell you about the advantages of helping the Park System achieve its vision – now and for generations to come. Call the Park System Land Preservation Office at 732-842-4000, ext. 4306, or send an e- mail to Andy Coeyman.
NJ Green Acres Program: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/greenacres/
NJ Conservation Foundation: http://www.njconservation.org/
Monmouth Conservation Foundation: http://www.monmouthconservation.org/
NJ Farmland Preservation Program: http://www.state.nj.us/agriculture/sadc/sadc.htm