DEP Urges Public to Provide Input on Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan
Department is Committed to Robust Plan that Provides Equitable Recreational Opportunities for New Jersey’s Diverse Residents
TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is announcing the start of a 30-day public comment period for the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) for New Jersey. The SCORP, updated through the department’s Outside, Together! initiative, aims to enhance and provide equitable outdoor recreation and conservation opportunities throughout the state and ensure a sustainable future for New Jersey’s natural resources.
“The DEP is committed to working with the public and our stakeholders to expand access to high-quality open space so that everyone has an opportunity to partake in the healthy, restorative and educational benefits of outdoor recreation,” said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette. “The importance of community and public engagement in accomplishing this goal cannot be overstated. This is your chance to help shape the opportunities for outdoor recreation and conservation that are so important to all of us.”
The SCORP is available for review on the DEP’s website at dep.nj.gov/outside-together/. Feedback can be submitted online at dep.nj.gov/outside-together/comment/ or via email to Outside.Together@tpl.org. The public comment period will run for 30 days, ending Oct. 18. The DEP will review the comments and incorporate them into a final Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan that will be used to set open space and recreation priorities for New Jersey.
The New Jersey Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan is prepared every five years by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program to maintain New Jersey’s eligibility to receive funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, administered by the National Park Service. More broadly, the plan serves as the state’s strategic plan to allocate funding for open space preservation and recreation projects.
To enhance public engagement in this process, the DEP launched the Outside, Together! initiative through an Administrative Order on Earth Day in 2022. The initiative is a collaborative effort of the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee and relies on a robust community involvement.
This past February, the DEP launched an online survey to identify how to best enhance and expand outdoor recreation and open space opportunities that focus on the needs of the public, especially those in overburdened communities. The survey closed on March 22 and 15,000 responses were received. The survey showed that a majority of residents place a high priority on outdoor recreation.
Some 75 percent indicated they visit local, city and county parks. Hiking/walking and gathering with family and friends were among the highest priorities for them and the most important outdoor amenity features are trails, sitting areas, picnic areas, and playgrounds.
The Outside, Together! initiative aims to ensure fairer and more equitable distribution of outdoor recreation and conservation funds and resources, advance climate resilience and environmental justice, support communities’ ecotourism, and embrace technology while also promoting stewardship and the conservation and restoration of biodiversity.
For more information about Outside, Together! visit dep.nj.gov/outside-together/