NEW JERSEY STATUTES
TITLE 13. CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT--PARKS AND RESERVATIONS
CHAPTER 1B. DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT [DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT OF 1970]
ARTICLE IIC. PARKS, FORESTRY AND RECREATION
As used in this act: a. "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Environmental Protection; b. "Department" means the Department of Environmental Protection; c. "Program" means the Open Lands Management Program.
13:1B-15.135. Legislative findings and declarations
The Legislature finds and declares that opportunities for access to recreational open space are rapidly diminishing and that, in an effort to explore alternative techniques to provide that access, the State should aid private landowners permitting public recreational use of their land. The Legislature further finds and declares that administering a program to aid private landowners, informing the public of recreational opportunities and evaluating the operation of the program would best be implemented by establishing an Open Lands Management Program, and by empowering the Department of Environmental Protection to provide financial assistance and in kind services to assist private landowners in maintaining and increasing public recreational opportunities, all as hereinafter provided.
13:1B-15.136. Open lands management program; establishment; purpose
There is established in the Division of Parks and Forestry in the Department of Environmental Protection the Open Lands Management Program. The purpose of this program shall be to provide financial assistance and in kind services for the development and maintenance of privately owned land for recreational purposes in accordance with the provisions of this act. It shall further be the purpose of this program to evaluate the operation of State efforts to provide opportunities for recreational access to privately-owned open space.
13:1B-15.137. Rules and regulations
The commissioner is authorized to adopt and enforce, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L. 1968, c. 410 (C. 52:14B-1 et seq.), rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this act.
13:1B-15.138. Public meetings
The department shall undertake an informational and educational effort to acquaint landowners with the basic objectives and details of the program by conducting public meetings in the various geographical regions of the State.
13:1B-15.139. Projects by private landowners
a. Voluntary offers to undertake certain projects shall be solicited by the department from private landowners. The department may provide a landowner with any appropriate assistance and guidance in the development of recreational opportunity proposals particularly suited to the topographical characteristics of the land.
b. A landowner may file an application with the department, on forms prescribed by the commissioner, requesting financial assistance for a specific project or projects for public recreational access to his privately- owned open space. The department shall evaluate the application and, within 30 days of receipt of the application, either deny the application citing the reasons therefor or grant preliminary approval thereof.
c. If preliminary approval has been granted, the landowner and the commissioner may enter into an agreement, hereinafter referred to as an "access covenant," which guarantees public access for a specified period of time, for specified recreational purposes to a specified parcel or parcels of land in return for appropriate and reasonable financial assistance or in kind services, or both, as determined by the commissioner.
d. If an access covenant has been signed by a landowner and the commissioner, the landowner shall cause a statement containing the conditions of the covenant to be attached to and recorded with the deed to the land in the same manner as the deed was originally recorded.
13:1B-15.140. Eligible projects
Projects eligible for consideration by the commissioner shall include but not necessarily be limited to:
a. Installation, repair or replacement of existing protective structures, such as fencing, water bars, berms or stiles;
b. Installation, repair or replacement of any facility which provides or improves public recreational access to privately-owned land, such as parking areas, access roads, trails, signs, picnic areas, rest areas or boat or canoe launch areas;
c. Planting, restoration or maintenance of trees or shrubs for the purpose of screening or increasing the value of scenic areas; and
d. Repair or restoration of any vandalized crops or improvements located on, or adjacent to, agricultural land which is subject to an access covenant.
13:1B-15.141. Liability of owner, lessee or occupant
a. An owner, lessee or occupant of land for which an access covenant has been entered into and who is participating in the program and thereby guarantees access pursuant to subsection c. of section 7 of this act does not thereby: (1) extend any assurance that the premises, including any natural or man-made conditions, are safe for these purposes; (2) constitute the person to whom access is guaranteed an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owned; or (3) assume responsibility for, or incur liability for, any injury to person or property caused by any act of persons to whom access is guaranteed.
b. This section shall not limit the liability which would otherwise exist for willful or malicious failure to guard, or to warn against, a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity.
13:1B-15.142. Assessment and taxation
The access covenant for recreational purposes shall not affect the assessment and taxation of agricultural land which is taxed pursuant to the "Farmland Assessment Act of 1964," P.L. 1964, c. 48 (C. 54:4-23.1 et seq.), nor shall it affect the assessment and taxation of vacant land or agricultural land which is not taxed pursuant to the "Farmland Assessment Act of 1964."
Reviewed by AAHS in July 2001.
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