Commissioner Martin apparently feels empowered to violate other state law requirements when it comes to Parks and Forest as well. On Jan. 1 of this year, a number of fees for entering and using the state’s Parks and Forests were quietly raised, without notifying the public, in direct violation of the state’s Administrative Procedure Act. Instead of complying with the Administrative Procedure Act, the DEP, without any notice whatsoever to the public, raised the rates in the hopes no one would notice or complain.
The push for privatization comes from Koch brother funded organizations like Club for Growth, the Reason Foundation, and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Governor Christie is following in lock step their plan to privatize state parklands. The playbook calls for first privatizing a small group of parks with partners including non-profits, which we will now see moving forward at Liberty, Wharton, and Island Beach State Parks. The plan then calls for bringing more and more parks into the system to push out non-profits and to turn the parks into an economic growth asset under private control. These groups want to get the government and public out of parks turn them into corporate assets. The result of privatization is often a decrease in services to the public, higher costs, and the proliferation of pay to play contracts
The state parks belong to all of us. The Administration is breaking that trust in giving away our public lands to private corporations that only care about their bottom line and not the people of New Jersey.
Jeff Tittel is the Director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club.