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Pinelands Conservation Fund
Background
2021 Acquisition Round Offered

Background

Lenape Farms

The Pinelands Conservation Fund (PCF) was created in 2004 as part of an agreement with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to permit the construction and upgrade of an electric transmission line through eastern portions of the Pinelands. Under the agreement, the special fund was established to further the Pinelands protection program and ensure a greater level of protection of the unique resources of the Pinelands Area. The utility that built the transmission lines, Atlantic City Electric (formerly Conectiv), provided $13 million to establish the Fund. An additional $3,415,000 was added to the Fund in 2009 because of an amendment to the Comprehensive Management Plan that authorized expansion of the Cape May landfill and through a 2008 Memorandum of Agreement with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority that authorized improvements to the Garden State Parkway. More recently, an agreement with the South Jersey Transportation Authority that allowed relocation of grassland bird habitat will add a total of $3,000,000 over a five-year period.

The Pinelands Conservation Fund is dedicated to four types of projects: permanent land protection; conservation planning and research projects; community planning and design initiatives; and education and outreach. Of the original $13 million, $6 million was allocated by the Commission to permanent land protection. Additional monies were subsequently allocated to the land acquisition component of the Pinelands Conservation Fund, including $2.5 million from the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority. Eight percent of those funds, or $200,000, was earmarked for projects in Cape May County. An additional $915,000 was added to the acquisition component of the Pinelands Conservation Fund in 2008 as the result of a memorandum of agreement between the Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority that allowed for the widening of the Garden State Parkway. To offset potential secondary impacts associated with this transportation project, the Turnpike Authority provided the Commission with funds to purchase lands in the immediate vicinity of two Parkway interchanges as a means of limiting future development that might be inconsistent with the CMP. Between 2007 and July 1, 2019, the Commission conducted a series of funding rounds, in which a total of $9.42 million was allocated from the PCF to 40 projects (approximately 8,970 acres) in the Pinelands Area. 

Between 2007 and July 1, 2019, the Commission conducted a series of funding rounds, in which a total of $9.42 million was allocated from the PCF to 40 projects in the Pinelands Area. All of the 40 projects have successfully closed as of July 1, 2019, resulting in the permanent protection of 8,971 acres in the Pinelands Area. Further details on the PCF projects may be found in the final report that Conservation Resources, Inc. submitted to the Commission in 2014 and by accessing the Commission's Permanent Land Protection Map.

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2021 Acquisition Round Offered

Over the course of the described funding rounds, the Commission Permanent Land Protection Committee set land acquisition priorities for distribution of the PCF acquisition funds. Previous rounds focused on specific planning areas and the “502” Target areas (a reference to Section 502 of the 1978 National Parks and Recreation Act that created the Pinelands National Reserve). The Committee further determined that PCF dollars would be best spent by contributing a maximum of one-third of a project’s fair market value, as a means of closing gaps in funding and providing the last piece of the puzzle need to complete a project.

In April 2021, the Commission’s Policy and Implementation Committee authorized a new round of land acquisition grants to be offered. A total of $1,000,000 will be available to fund land preservation efforts for projects that rank highly in the project evaluation matrix. The matrix lays out weighted criteria related to:

  • a focus on grassland habitats closer to the Atlantic City airport
  • habitat for other threatened or endangered species
  • size of the project and its contiguity with nearby preserved land
  • climate change mitigation through acquisition of land for carbon sequestration or to reduce flood or wildfire risk
  • long-term maintenance plans
  • partner contribution of at least 67.7% of acquisition costs

County and municipal governments and non-governmental organizations engaged in permanent land protection are invited to apply for project funding.  See maps of focus areas by choosing from among the links below.

The application form may be downloaded here. Project applications must be submitted no later than July 30, 2021 to be considered. All application materials must be delivered electronically via email to Gina.Berg@pinelands.nj.gov. Due to the Commission’s staff working remotely, hard copies received via regular mail or express delivery will not be accepted. For files exceeding 35MB, please email to request a link to upload files.

Questions about the PCF land acquisition program should be directed to Gina A. Berg at Gina.Berg@pinelands.nj.gov.

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