New Jersey voters said "YES!" on Election Day to Ballot Question 1, continuing the protection of clean water, natural areas, farmland, parks and historic sites.

The majority of voters, 53 to 47 percent, supported the question. For the next few critical years, New Jersey's highly successful state conservation program will be able to preserve thousands more acres of natural lands and farms. Passage of the ballot question also buys us time to develop and adopt a permanent funding source.

What's remarkable is that this $400 million bond question was approved at a time when our economy is shaky, unemployment is high and many people are worried about their taxes and personal finances. It passed even though, for the first time, it was the specific target of organized political opposition.

And it received bi-partisan support - passing in 14 of the 21 counties, with support strong both in counties where the majority voted for Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and those where Republican challenger Chris Christie dominated.

Garden State voters have never failed to back statewide open space preservation funding. All 13 open space questions on the ballot since 1961 have been approved, generating more than $2.5 billion for state preservation programs.

And these funds have been highly leveraged by popular local open space trust funds. The Trust for Public Land's LandVote Database estimates New Jersey voters have approved 385 out of 487 ballot measures (or 79 percent) over the years, totaling $9.2 billion for conservation. Nationally, LandVote records 2,261 open space tax measures on ballots across the country since 1988. Of these, 75 percent have passed.

New Jersey voters clearly understand a good investment when they see one. Once the land is preserved, we have it forever. It's not like other capital borrowing; the land investments are secure and pay continuous environmental dividends.

This is the second time in three years that voters have approved a multi-million dollar bond act for the Garden State Preservation Trust. But this approach isn't sustainable. Governor-elect Christie has expressed support for securing a stable source for open space, farmland and historic preservation. The passage of this ballot question will help make this a high priority for the new governor.

Continuing to save land is the greatest investment we can make toward preserving the beautiful Garden State we know and love.

I hope you'll visit New Jersey Conservation Foundation's website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org, if you would like more information about conserving New Jersey's land and natural resources.