By: Jillian Zimmer, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY – To celebrate Earth Day, “Outside, Together!”, a recreational initiative that will bring the public, local leaders, conservation organizations, and ecotourism industry together to produce a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan was launched at Laurel Hill Park in Secaucus.
“Interaction is the gateway to understanding,” said Marcus Sibley, NJ NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Chairman. “There have been long standing barriers to access and inclusion in our outdoor recreational spaces, therefore we’re supportive of initiatives such as ‘Outside, Together!’ due to the possibilities for growth, progress, and healing when we’re all outside, together.”
Six core principles for “Outside, Together!” are to expand high-quality open space and recreational opportunities for all New Jerseyans; enhance climate resilience and sustainability through acquisition and development; empower communities through investment in ecotourism and outdoor recreation; embrace the role of technology in conservation and outdoor recreation; further equity and environmental justice through outdoor recreation; and lastly continue the commitment to stewardship and the conservation and restoration of biodiversity.
“Outside, Together!” will have a strong community engagement while reforming funding policies and protocols for prioritizing land acquisitions. The reforms are supposed to ensure equitable distribution of recreation and conservation funds. The theme of this initiative goes along with this year’s Earth Day global theme of Invest In Our Planet.
An administrative order was issued to update the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), which sets the state’s priorities for parklands and open space. The Department of Environmental Protection is updating its recreation plan which is a recurring requirement to remain eligible for National Park Service findings.
Earlier this year, the DEP created the Community Investment and Economic Revitalization Program. The program focuses on environmental, social, and economic improvement. The main function of the program is to strengthen investments in natural capital that will enhance the quality of life for all New Jersey residents. The plan could be ready for public review as early as spring 2023 and finalized that summer.
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