Masked revelers and supporters at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Moonlight Masquerade “Down to Earth” Ball, held October 29 at historic Tusculum, were presented with a surprise announcement at evening’s end: that everyone can join in and benefit from the Land for Life Campaign.
“Why Land for Life?” posited D&R Greenway President & CEO Linda Mead. “Because without all the benefits that preserved land provides—fresh air, clean water, plants and wildlife, farms for food, places to play and renew—we would not have quality of life or even life itself!”
During Mead’s announcement, she enthusiastically reported that a supporter awarded a Challenge Gift that very morning: “If we raise $200,000 by the end of January, we will receive a match of $100,000 for a total of $300,000,” said Mead. “That enables donors to make tax-deductible gifts in 2016 and 2017 and gets us halfway to our final goal of $600k for the public campaign. Every dollar counts! This is a vision we can all share in and make happen together!”
For more than a quarter century, D&R Greenway has been protecting land in the most densely populated state, assuring clean drinking water and landscapes essential to our health and quality of life.
“Our work to preserve farms and open spaces and instill a conservation ethic has changed the landscape of New Jersey for generations to come and brings lasting environmental, social and economic benefits,” continues Mead. “We launched our Land for Life Campaign to build our capacity to continue to preserve and care for land. The time to preserve land is now—in 30 years our state will be the first to be either completely developed or preserved. What happens is up to all of us. We have the leadership to get this done, and by reaching the goals of our Land for Life Campaign we will make it happen.”
Many are familiar with D&R Greenway’s success in preserving land and offering trails for the public. Land for Life will help support good stewardship of the land, including land in urban areas like Capital City Farm and the Cadwaladar Park Natural Area and Meadow.
“Land for Life—there are so many ways to interpret that phrase,” says D&R Greenway Board of Trustees Chair Phyllis Marchand. “I have experienced the importance of walks on our preserved lands as a prescription for physical and mental health—our Poetry Trail is the best medicine!”
Did you know that preserving land provides financial rewards? “Open space has a tax and quality of life benefit compared to development,” continues Marchand. “Tax benefits include no additional municipal costs, such as for roads, police, schools and numerous other services. Quality of life benefits include less traffic and flooding from run-off, and more land for the community to enjoy. So ask your children and grandchildren what the phrase ‘Land for Life’ means—the answers can only be inspiring.”
“There are many organizations to support in our community but I feel D&R Greenway’s Land for Life campaign should be at the top of everyone’s list because the work it does benefits all of us and every living thing, now and forever,” says Betsy Sands, D&R Greenway Trustee and Land for Life co-chair. “We know how important balance is to nature, health and the future of our Earth so it is essential to preserve open space now in a state where there is so much development. What a lasting legacy… a gift of open space and fresh air!”
“What really drew my wife, Emily, and me to D&R Greenway is not only the commitment to preserving land but the organization’s approach to stewardship,” says D&R Greenway Trustee and Land for Life co-chair Johan Firmenich. “The Land for Life campaign is a way for D&R Greenway to fully commit to its vision to permanently preserve land. As Prince famously said, ‘Forever; that’s a mighty long time.’ This campaign is about preserving and stewarding land for the next generation and the generations after that one.”
Planned giving generates preservation power and the capacity to care for land. “I have made a planned gift to D&R Greenway because our planet cannot provide us with breathable air and drinkable water unless enough land is preserved for it to do so,” says D&R Greenway Trustee Gene Gladston. “D&R Greenway, therefore, is the foundation for my charitable giving—and it should also be yours.”
The Land for Life Campaign seeks to raise $8.4 million to ensure preservation of threatened lands and good stewardship of lands protected in the public trust. Two years into the campaign, $7.8 million has been raised. The hope is that the remaining $600,000 will come from hundreds of donors, similarly to when D&R Greenway saved St. Michaels in Hopewell with support from more than 900 families, individuals and local businesses. “After all,” says Mead, “everyone shares in the benefit of open space in our community. By helping to preserve and care for land, the public really becomes a partner in creating this legacy with us. It’s true that together we will make a lasting difference in what our community looks like in the future.”
Thousands of acres of commercial and residential development, car trips creating congestion and pollution, millions of gallons of water wasted… can you imagine what our region might be like if it weren’t for the 20,000 acres preserved by D&R Greenway?
“Give a gift to yourself and your family by supporting the Land for Life campaign,” says Sands.
“Preserving land is forever.”
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