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Highlands Open Space Partnership Funding Program

Grants to New Jersey Conservancies and Agencies to Acquire Land
and Conservation Easements in the Highlands Region

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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New Jersey Highlands Council

Deadline Date:

04/30/19 Postmarked for mailed applications


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Grants to New Jersey conservancies and state, county, and municipal governmental agencies to acquire land and conservation easements in the Highlands region. Funding is intended to promote conservation and the preservation of resources in the region. Eligible regions include all or part of the following counties: Bergen, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren.

The Highlands Open Space Partnership Funding Program is designed to support land conservation projects for the protection of resources within the Highland Region, and to further the land preservation goals of the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act and the Highlands Regional Master Plan (RMP). To this end, it supports the acquisition of property within the Highlands Region, and furthers the goals of landowner equity.

Projects proposing (1) the fee simple acquisition of land for conservation and/or passive recreation or (2) the acquisition of conservation easements for any passive recreation or conservation purposes are eligible for the Highlands Open Space Program. This includes restrictions on future development and protection of uses including, but not limited to parkland, natural areas, greenways, farm and, and other natural resources identified in the RMP.

The Highlands Open Space Program will prioritize funding awards based on the following, in no particular order:

- Properties designated as a Special Environmental Zone in the RMP
- Properties designated as High or Moderate Conservation Preservation Priority in the RMP
- Properties designated as High or Moderate Agricultural Preservation Priority in the RMP
- Projects that will provide connectivity to adjacent open space or preserved lands
- Applications that provide for a higher proportion of outside matching funds (requests less than 50%)

Applicants are encouraged to review their projects against the above referenced RMP mapping layers using the Highlands Council’s online interactive map. (See

Additional priorities established in the Highlands Conservation Act also will be considered as part of the review process. Specifically, projects should be in a high conservation value area as identified in the “NY-NJ Highlands Regional Study: 2002 Update” composite resource map, or in any of the individual resource maps as identified in the study (water, forest, wildlife, agricultural, cultural/recreational).

Highlands Conservation Act Conservation Values Assessment mapping layers (composite value, water, forest, wildlife, agricultural, and cultural/recreational) are available in GIS format at:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 173961

Estimated Size of Grant:

The Highlands Council shall provide a maximum grant award of 50% of the total purchase price of the property. There is no minimum nor maximum amount a single applicant may request, provided at least 50% of total purchase price will be provided by the applicant and/or its partners.

Term of Contract:

Upon grant approval, the applicant will have 12 months (with up to two 6-month extensions) to close on the acquisition, pending review and approval of final documents by Highlands Council staff.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The following entities are eligible to apply for funding:

- The State of New Jersey, in accordance with the State funding source requirements;
- Any of the seven counties located in the Highlands Region;
- Any of the 88 municipalities located in the Highlands Region; and
- Charitable conservancies.

A “charitable conservancy” means a corporation or trust exempt from Federal income taxation under the Federal Internal Revenue Code, which purpose includes the acquisition and preservation of lands in a natural, scenic, or other open condition.

Projects located within the New Jersey Highlands Region, including both the Preservation and Planning Areas, are eligible for the Highlands Open Space Program. Please note that applications funded through the Highlands Conservation Act must fall within the Federal Highlands Conservation Act Area, which excludes certain municipalities located in the New Jersey Highlands Region. (See map at

All projects funded through this program will be subject to the requirements of both the Highlands Open Space Program and Highlands Conservation Act.

The following projects, properties, and activities are not eligible for the Highlands Open Space Program:

- Properties to be held in fee simple title by the Highlands Council;
- Properties which require condemnation;
- Properties containing significant environmental contamination, including, but not limited to, former landfill sites, sites having a history of operating as a facility with substantial likelihood for on-site contamination, and sites listed on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Known Contaminated Sites List;
- Properties already preserved or acquired during the application process by municipalities, counties, the State, or a qualified charitable conservancy;
- Administrative or operational costs of the applicant or current or former owners;
- Construction or development projects, including capital improvements, recreation improvements, infrastructure projects, and the restoration, rehabilitation, or reconstruction of any structure (however, this shall not preclude the purchase of the eligible underlying lands);
- Maintenance, care, custodial, or policing expenditures, including, but not limited to, grounds maintenance, restoration, or reconstruction;
- Ceremonial or publicity expenses;
- Interest, bonding expenses, or other financing costs;
- Fundraising or lobbying expenses; and
- Interpretive activities, such as displays or signs.

Pre-Application Information:

Full Proposal Due Date is Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Applications must be postmarked by that date to be eligible for the 2019 funding round.

The Highlands Council will provide awards up to, but not exceeding, 50% of the final purchase price of eligible projects. Applicants are required to provide a list of all proposed funding sources for the project at the time of application.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Submit the completed application and supporting materials by email, mail, or hand-delivery to:

Drew Siglin, Highlands Open Space and TDR Coordinator
Phone: (908) 879-6737

New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council
100 North Road
Chester, NJ 07930-2322

Funding or Pin Number:

N.J.A.C. 7:70

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: New Jersey: The Highlands Region, including all or parts of the following counties: Bergen, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren