The Sussex County Open Space Program 2008 Update
The Sussex County Open Space program has been in place since 2002 and has provided funding for 29 projects. Applications are accepted from our 24 municipalities or environmental non-profit organizations (with municipal support). Projects include, but are not limited to, greenways and trail acquisition, active recreation such as ball fields, lands with endangered and threatened species habitat and lands important for water and natural resource protection. All applications are reviewed by the Sussex County Open Space Committee and recommended to the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders for funding. The County utilizes funds from their two Farmland and Open Space Dedicated taxes for this purpose. In most instances, applicants partner with other funding entities including the State Green Acres program, municipal open space trust funds and funding from environmental groups in order to successfully complete a project. Lands preserved in this manner are permanently protected against development. Applications for the yearly funding cycle are sent out each spring with a submittal deadline of August 15th - funding for this process is through the first of two dedicated taxes. Applications that do not coincide with this process may be considered by the Committee throughout the year under the second dedicated tax which is an Open Competitive program between Open Space and Farmland Preservation.
Presently, the County of Sussex has approximately 30% of its land mass in public open space. This includes State parks and forests, part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge and many state wildlife management areas. Environmental non-profits including the NJ Nature Conservancy have various preserves within Sussex County that are open for passive recreational pursuits including hiking, bird watching and nature observation.
In December 2008, the New Jersey Audubon Society will have a brochure available listing great bird and wildlife viewing locations throughout Sussex County. There will be information on trails (both walking and driving) and what you may see when you get there depending on the season.