Budget cuts curb land purchases

August 06, 2010 01:30PM

Financial troubles are forcing state and local governments in New York and New Jersey to scale back efforts to buy choice pieces of farmland and open space for preservation, the Wall Street Journal reported. Conservation groups have viewed the real estate slump as the perfect opportunity to buy cheap land from struggling developers and banks, industry experts say. But the funding for such programs is being cut as governments struggle to balance budgets. “It’s a fabulous time to buy land, but there’s no public money,” said Leslie Wright, director of the Trust for Public Land’s New York program, a land conservation organization. The budget that was passed this week in New York cut funding by 65 percent for open space and farmland preservation, to $28.4 million. In New Jersey, the state is continuing to purchase and protect farmland and open space through a $400 million bond that voters approved last year. But New Jersey counties, facing pressure to reduce taxes and balance budgets, are sharply curtailing their preservation efforts. [WSJ]