New Jersey State roadways will now be lined with native plants for landscaping and reforestation purposes due to the efforts of Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin (all R-10). The bill, S-227/A-963, was signed into law on May 1, 2017 by Governor Christie.
Signed by Gov. Christie on May 1, 2017, Sen. Jim Holzapfel’s S-227 requires the use of native vegetation on New Jersey State roadways. (NJDOT)
“During the rebuilding of State Highway 35 on the barrier island following Superstorm Sandy, we worked on this bill to benefit the state both economically and ecologically,” said Senator Holzapfel. “We worked alongside Save Barnegat Bay to craft this important piece of legislation in an effort to restore the bay and prevent pollutants from entering local waterways.”
Under the bill, when planting vegetation for the purpose of landscaping, land management, reforestation or habitat reforestation, the Department of Transportation, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority would be required to plant vegetation that is native to the State and that will thrive in the area being planted. Native plants generally grow well and require little care, resulting in the use of fewer pesticides which pollute surrounding waterways.
“Native plants that are adapted to local conditions are more likely to survive, preventing the need for replanting and saving taxpayers from an unnecessary expense,” said Assemblyman Wolfe. “Choosing plants that are indigenous to the area also provides vital habitats for birds and other wildlife, while limiting the growth of potentially invasive species.”
“We are very grateful to the legislators who helped achieve this victory for water quality,” said Britta Wenzel, Executive Director for Save Barnegat Bay. “This initiative will benefit clean water and wildlife throughout the state of New Jersey.”
The Department of Environmental Protection would be required to identify the particular species of vegetation that are native to the State and thrive within the Plant Hardiness Zone Map established by the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Using native vegetation is a better choice for the environment and for taxpayers. Native plants allow developed landscapes to coexist with nature, rather than compete with it,” added Assemblyman McGuckin.
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