More than $1.3 million in state grants were awarded to three municipalities in central New Jersey for the purpose of expanding and improving urban green spaces, salt marsh ecosystems, and forest tree canopies.
As part of the state’s Natural Climate Solutions Grants (NCS) programme, Berkeley Heights will receive $721,325, Readington will receive $250,000, and Linden will receive $350,000.
The grants were announced on Wednesday by Shawn M. LaTourette, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), to highlight the significance of natural resources in sequestering carbon and thereby helping the state achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a multi-state market-based programme that sets a regional cap on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel power plants, and it is through this programme that New Jersey has been able to fund these projects.
According to the DEP, the funds will be used to reforest an area adjacent to the Watchung Reservation by the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission, Union County Division of Park Environmental Services, and other stakeholders, who will plant 555 trees along streets and rights-of-way and another 120 trees to clean up the area.
Eleven acres of open fields and meadows will be reforested with native tree species as part of the Readington Meadow Afforestation project, restoring these areas to woodlands and reestablishing their connections to the surrounding continuous forests.
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“Readington Township has had a long history of open space and farmland preservation,” said Mayor Juergen Huelsebusch and Project Manager Robert Becker. “In 2018, the township committed to protecting an additional 3,000 acres of land, with the ultimate goal of protecting 40 per cent of all township land by 2050.
Readington’s land stewardship duties for these newly acquired properties are increasingly vital as we move forward with this mission. There’s nothing more timely than the chance to return abandoned farmland to its natural state as a forest.
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At the same time, we can give locals a chance to learn about trees’ role as a climate-fighting resource.
Sgt. A. Wales Memorial Park, Louis Avenue Park, and three additional city-owned parks and lots in the Tremley Point area will receive new tree plantings from Linden, thanks to funding from the Green Acres programme. The work will be accompanied by educational signage at each site and a community tree-planting event as part of the city’s public outreach effort.
Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said, “The City of Linden is proud to be a recipient of DEP’s NCS grant programme.” With these funds, we will be able to reforest several vacant lots that Blue Acres has acquired and city-owned parks in the Tremley Point area with more than 500 trees and informative signs.
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Our Environmental Justice Community will benefit from this project because it will lessen the impact of the urban heat island, increase green space, build habitat for local wildlife, and store carbon.