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Doug Steinhardt

Posted on: June 26, 2023

Senate Advances Steinhardt Bill Reigniting Christmas Tree Tradition

Christmas Tree Branch

The New Jersey Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator Doug Steinhardt that would restore a cherished post-Christmas tradition for New Jersey communities.

"With today's Senate vote advancing my legislation, municipalities may soon be able to restore the tradition of Christmas tree bonfires throughout the state. The open burning of Christmas trees was a popular post-Christmas tradition before the events were shut down due to overregulation," said Steinhardt (R-23). "Annual Christmas tree bonfires were an economic driver for participating municipalities, who often used these events to fundraise for local causes and organizations. This legislation would end the prohibition of municipal Christmas tree bonfires and allow communities to re-ignite this custom."

The New Jersey Administrative Code currently prohibits the open burning of refuse materials like Christmas trees.

In years prior, certain municipalities would host an annual event for the open burning of Christmas trees to bring residents together and fundraise money for the community.

After the Department of Environmental Protection banned the burning of the trees at municipal open burn events, residents became outraged as their local tradition came to an end. Municipalities now use wooden pallets as an alternative to Christmas trees.

Senator Steinhardt's bill, S-861, would allow municipalities to restore this tradition by permitting an annual event for the open burning of the trees. The bill requires municipalities holding the events to ensure that all ornaments, lights, and other items are removed from the trees prior to the open burn.

"Annual open burn events are a cost-effective method for municipalities to dispose of discarded Christmas trees," Steinhardt added. "These events would occur under the watchful eye of local fire departments and provide greater environmental benefits than dumping the trees into landfills. By reducing regulatory burdens, communities can once again partake in their annual Christmas tree burning traditions."

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