New Jersey’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoors Recreation Plan
On April 22, 2022, Commissioner LaTourette signed Administrative Order 2022-12 establishing the creation of an Advisory Committee that will guide the development of New Jersey’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan and its recommendations. Updated every five years, the Plan identifies statewide recreation needs and opportunities and sets forth a program to implement measures to address them. The next update is due December 2023 to the National Park Service (NPS) to continue New Jersey’s eligibility for federal grants, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
While much progress has been made through past plans, DEP is committed to building on its past success and elevating our outdoor recreation and conservation planning efforts. To achieve this, the State of New Jersey requires a more sophisticated Plan with original data that can serve as both a vision statement and guidance document for outdoor recreation and conservation endeavors.
This five-year Plan, known as Outside, Together! will reflect deep public and stakeholder engagement. We will involve individuals with diverse voices, experiences and viewpoints who will engage with DEP and its professionals to advance environmental, social, and economic goals. Additionally, this outreach effort will inform new funding policies and acquisition prioritization used by DEP programs: Green Acres, Fish and Wildlife, and Parks, Forestry & Historic Sites.
Outside, Together! Principles
- Expanding high-quality open space and recreational opportunities for all New Jerseyans
- Enhancing climate resilience and sustainability through acquisition and recreational development
- Empowering communities through investment in ecotourism and outdoor recreation
- Embracing the role of technology in conservation and outdoor recreation
- Furthering equity and environmental justice through outdoor recreation
- Continuing the commitment to stewardship and the conservation and restoration of biodiversity
Outside, Together! Objectives
- Identify opportunities for expanding public access to recreation areas and facilities, and improving the user experience at existing recreation areas;
- Educate the public about the importance, needs, benefits and availability of open space and outdoor recreation opportunities statewide;
- Identify high value open space and recreational needs and opportunities with particular focus on better serving the health and wellness of residents in underserved or overburdened communities;
- Enhance the focus on the economic benefits of preservation, including those associated with climate resilience and sustainability, ecotourism and biodiversity;
- Identify necessary policy, regulatory and legislative actions to advance open space and outdoor recreation goals;
- Fully engage the public and key partners to ensure an informed approach to outdoor recreation and conservation;
- Encourage collaborative partnerships and programs to enhance open space and outdoor recreation at multiple levels of government; and
- Satisfy the NPS requirements so New Jersey continues to qualify for Federal LWCF opportunities.
Plan Development Process
Led by an Advisory Committee, there will be multiple opportunities for stakeholders to participate and inform development of Outside, Together!.
Beginning this summer, and continuing into next spring, DEP will organize opportunities for engagement that will allow DEP – incorporating your input – to set priorities, determine action to optimize access to open space and parklands, and help to ensure that the State’s recreational investments are consistent with our environmental, climate, equity and economic goals.
We look forward to hearing recommendations on how to improve public access, enrich the park experience, and advance park development and trail improvements. You can send us your recommendations and comments to Outside.firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to stakeholder input, DEP will be using an NPS Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan planning grant funds to engage a consultant to assist in the development of Outside, Together!. The consultant will assist with data collection and analysis, as well as with the development and drafting of Outside, Together!.