Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette today announced the availability of Green Acres and Urban Parks grants and loans to local governments and nonprofits to develop or update parks and preserve open space. The 2024 funding round includes an expanded initiative to fund construction of completely inclusive playgrounds, specifically developed to encourage municipalities to apply for funding.
Green Acres funds for the 2024 application round will establish, expand, or revitalize new and existing parks, acquire land, improve waterfront access, develop athletic fields and playgrounds, create open space, and enhance land stewardship. Green Acres will continue to provide non-matching grants to incentivize projects in Adversely Stressed Overburdened Communities in Urban Aid municipalities.
Green Acres and Urban Parks applications are now available on the Green Aces website; the application deadline for both funding opportunities is February 7, 2024.
“New Jersey’s Green Acres Program has a legacy of improving communities throughout the state by ensuring access to green spaces and recreational opportunities that allow people to connect with nature and improve their health,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “DEP urges local governments and eligible nonprofits to apply for Green Acres funding to expand recreational and open space access statewide, especially in communities long overburdened by environmental stressors.”
“We are proud to announce the launch of our expanded initiative to empower municipalities to create completely inclusive playgrounds.” said Elizabeth Dragon, Assistant Commissioner for Community Investment and Economic Revitalization. “Building upon the success of our previous county funding, we are now extending our support to local communities, ensuring that every child, regardless of ability, can experience the joy of play.”
The 2023 funding round introduced 75 percent grant funding to counties to construct completely inclusive playgrounds that are designed according to special guidelines as a result of Jake’s Law. This initiative has been expanded to include municipalities to encourage inclusive playgrounds statewide.
Non-matching 100 percent grant funding is available for Urban Parks projects that advance recreation, conservation, and historic preservation projects in Adversely Stressed Overburdened Communities in Urban Aid municipalities, further emphasizing the Murphy Administration’s commitment to environmental justice. These communities are so designated because they have a combined stressor total higher than the 50th percentile for total environmental and public health stressors.
Funding for these recreation and conservation projects comes from both the DEP’s Green Acres Program, funded by the Corporate Business Tax, and the Urban Parks Program, which is funded by a state budget appropriation.
Green Acres will be hosting several virtual application information sessions:
- November 13th - Application overview and Q&A
- 10 to 11:30 a.m. for Acquisition projects (including Green Acres and Urban Parks),
- 1 to 2:30 p.m. for Park Development (Green Acres and Urban Parks), Stewardship, and Jake’s Law projects.
- December 13th - Application Q&A - 10 to 11 a.m. for all projects.
- January 17th - Application Q&A - 10 to 11 a.m. for all projects.
Notices of these information sessions will be sent to stakeholders, and links to the virtual application information sessions will be posted on the Green Acres website. The virtual application information sessions will be recorded, and the recordings will be available on the Green Acres website.
Green Acres Program Overview
New Jersey has long been a leader in preserving open space and creating parks. The Green Acres Program, the oldest of its kind in the nation, was created in 1961 as the result of an innovative bond referendum. To date, the Green Acres Program has protected more than 720,000 acres of open space and provided hundreds of recreational facilities around the state.
Green Acres projects create jobs and stimulate economic development by making communities more attractive places to live and work, consequently boosting civic pride. They also improve air and water quality, providing New Jerseyans with a better quality of life. Green Acres funding allows governments and nonprofits to leverage millions of additional preservation dollars through matching federal, state, county and local funds, as well as from private sources.
To learn more about the Green Acres Program, visit NJGreenAcres.org