Open Space

As the most densely populated state in the nation, open space is a critical issue for NJ residents.  The benefits of open space protection are numerous and essential to a healthy environment now and in the future.

  • Open Space protects critical habitat. From bees to butterflies to birds to turtles and other species too numerous to mention, we are facing devastating losses of our native species. Open space protections help to stem that loss.
  • The trees and other plants in our open spaces help to improve air quality and slow the formation of ground-level ozone.
  • It also protects recreational areas for public use. In addition to being a large part of our economy, providing recreational areas in our densely populated space promotes untold health benefits for New Jerseyans.
  • It provides additional protections for areas critical to our water supply, allowing needed groundwater recharge.
  • Protection of the last of our open spaces is a sacred trust for future generations.
  • Open spaces simply make us feel better.  They create an appealing environment that provides relief from built-up urban surroundings.  They provide gathering spaces and help build communities.  Communities value their open space areas and they are a top priority of most New Jersey residents who have show that by repeatedly voting in favor of Green Acre projects.

Mercer County residents are fortunate to enjoy more than 10,000 acres of parks, recreational facilities, and open space.  They are managed by the Mercer County Parks Commission.

Mercer County Master Plan – Open Space Element
Prepared by the Mercer County Planning Board and Planning Division in 2010. It summarizes the land the County has preserved since 1992 and identifies ways to meet the future needs with limited funds.


Rails to Trails Conservancy – NJ
Since 1986 the Rails to Trails Conservancy has been transforming unused rail corridors into multi-purpose public paths. They are usually fairly flat and traverse urban, suburban and rural communities in America and so are ideal for walking, biking and other recreational uses.  Their site provides the basics for creating a vibrant rail-trail for communities, including technical tips and tried-and-true methods for generating neighborhood, political and funding support for your project.  If you have a rail line that is not being used in your community check out the resources on their site.

Local Community Response

Princeton – see Friends of Princeton Open Space which has a long history of acquiring open space for preservation, protection of natural resources, maintaining and extending trail and providing environmental education.

Lawrence– see Friends of the Lawrence Greenway, a non-profit that advocates a walkable and bikeable community in Lawrence Township.

Hopewell – see Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, formed in 1987 to advocate against  the growing impact of suburban sprawl on their community.

West Windsor – see Friends of West Windsor Open Space, formed in 1995 to help West Windsor to maintain a piece of its rural heritage by preserving open space.  See also the Open Space and Recreation Plan Element of the Master Plan.

Robbinsville – see Save Robbinsville Open Space which works to organize efforts to stop any attempts at destroying Robbinsville’s quality of life by allowing our Open Space to be used for commercial enterprise.

Ewing – see the Conservation Element of the Master Plan.