The cost of operating the New Jersey park system is approximately $39M annually, but the system only generates $8M (21%) each year through fees and leases.

That’s why the Christie Administration is out with a new funding strategy aimed at keeping the state parks open, affordable and accessible for an even greater amount of New Jersey residents.

The strategy includes two phases, focusing on short and long-term revenue growth.

Governor Chris Christie explains, “The goal of phase one is to increase non-tax resources to $15M by 2015 through an initial round of partnerships with private sector and nonprofit organizations, and environmental foundations.”

The longer term goal, phase two, is to raise about two-thirds of the annual operating parks budget from alternative funding sources. Some of these projects are already underway, such as the significant restructuring of state park concessions.

“As a result, sustaining revenue will begin to be realized from these projects by as early as the end of next year,” says Christie.

Video by Dino Flammia

However, Christie explains the boost in revenue can not only come from existing revenue sources.

He continues, “New revenues will be generated from a combination of earnings from new and expanded services, and some small fee increases for some park uses.”

Entrance fees, which are almost nonexistent, would not be hiked, but park visitors can expect a hike in fees for camping, boat storage and bus passes.

“Things like that clearly are nowhere near market rate,” says Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin. “We haven’t changed those rates in years and years.”

 Even with the change, New Jersey’s fees will remain significantly lower than those of other states.

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